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How can I access my Windows XP Machine Remotely?

How Can I access my Windows XP Machine Remotely?

Terminal Services and Remote Desktop that are available in versions of
Windows NT, 2000, XP and 2003 are all about accessing your machine
remotely via your network connection. Across the room or across the
country it’s almost like being right there.

Both Terminal Services and Remote Desktop allow you to connect to a
Windows machine over a network net and get a full desktop. It’s
almost like being at the real console. In fact it’s so close
that it’s allowed many people using multiple computers to set some up
without any monitor or keyboard installed at all and use remote
access only.

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Terminal Services, originally code named “Hydra” after the
many-headed beast of Greek mythology, is a technology incorporated into
Windows NT servers that allows multiple clients to connect to the
machine at the same time. Each connection creates a new “virtual”
desktop complete with all the icons and menus that you’d see if you
had actually logged on on the machine’s console. The only downside is
that prior to Windows 2003 Server you could not actually log into the
actual console remotely.

Enter Remote Desktop in Windows XP Pro. Remote Desktop uses similar
technology to allow you to log into a machine remotely but you can
only log into the one true desktop – there is only one session. If
you log in remotely using Remote Desktop, then the console session is
disconnected. Conversely if you log into the console then any remote
session will be disconnected. The good news is that if you log in using
the same account applications remain running and you can effectively
“move” the console to a remote connection and back again.

Windows 2003 server allows for both types of access: additional sessions
and Remote Desktop.

In either case the keys to accessing a machine remotely are:

  • The machine you want to connect to must have either Terminal
    Services or Remote Desktop sharing installed and running.

  • The machine you want to connect from must have the Terminal
    Services or Remote Desktop client installed. The Remote Desktop
    client is included in Windows XP and can also be downloaded for free
    here. It can be used to connect to both
    Terminal Services and Remote Desktop.

When you run Remote Desktop Client you’ll specify the name of the
machine to connect to and possibly some options controlling the
connection. As long as you can “see” the other machine – meaning it’s
on your local LAN or behind some kind of firewall on the internet then the
client connects and you’ll be presented with the very familiar
logon screen from that machine. Logon and you’re there.

Once connected you can do anything remotely that you could
if you were sitting at the machine with two very important exceptions:

  • If the machine is truly physically remote from you then you will not be
    able to do things like insert a CD-ROM or other physical things.

  • Windows must be running which implies that you cannot
    remote-desktop to the boot sequence or to change BIOS settings.

As I mentioned earlier, you can happily use remote desktop across
the internet as long as the server is not protected by a firewall such as
a broadband router. If it is and your firewall or router supports it
you can open port 3389 on the firewall and forward that to the machine
you want to connect to. Note that if there is more than one machine
behind the firewall then only one can be connected to across the firewall
this way.

And finally, Microsoft has a “how-to” article on setting up and
using Remote Desktop on Windows XP here.

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94 comments on “How can I access my Windows XP Machine Remotely?”

  1. If connecting from the internet through a fire wall what would the name of the server device be, that is, do I need to use my DLS’s IP or ???

  2. It would be the IP *on the internet* that gets to your site … that probably means the IP assigned to your DSL connection by your ISP. If you are running through a router, then that router will have to open port 3389 and send it to the computer behind the router you want to connect to.


  3. How can you connect to more than one machine behind the firewall? Can you change the default port (3389) on the 2nd machine? If so, how can you change it on the remote computer in order to still get to computer 1 when you want to.

    I know how to manipulate PC Anywhere to do this. Still new to RDesktop.

  4. Hi Leo,

    Can you help me with this? I’m a little confused. :-)

    I’d like to turn my old Windows XP Pro machine into a file server which I would connect to using a notebook with XP Home. Both of these machines would be part of my home LAN and be connected together through a DSL router. I’d like to be able to locate the file server in the basement without any keyboard or monitor attached. My question to you relates to XP’s built-in remote access feature. Am I going to be able to establish and close connections from the XP Home notebook to the XP Pro file server without touching the XP Pro machine?

    Does this question make sense? I’m just confused by the differences in the remote access capabilities between XP Home and Pro.

    Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions,

  5. Should work great. In fact you described part of my setup here at home … right down to “machines in the basement” :-). Pro will let you connect TO it remotely. Home will not. But you can run the remote desktop *client* on Home and connect to Pro. That make sense?

  6. how i connect my machine to remote operating system is win 2000 environment.i am also having dial up connection. i have done static ip address configuration also.

    Pl give me in detail.

  7. Hey,

    Is there any way i can turn on my computer from a different computer in a different house hold? both computeres have win xp home


  8. Turning it *on*? Supposedly there’s a “wake on network activity” kind of thing that some machines support, but I’ve never seen it used. I think the practical answer right now is probably not.

  9. yes turn it on liek its off and im at someone elses house and i want to turn it on from here? do u kno a way i could do this? cuz my brother did it b4 id ask him but i cant get to him right now


  10. There is a way to have multiple different sessions with Windows XP Pro (like in Windows 2003 Server)?
    maybe a patch/regedit or something…

  11. No. You can be logged in in multiple sessions, but only one can be accessed, via console or remote desktop session, at a time.

  12. Cool! Thanks for the pointer. I hope that the feature survives through SP2’s release. I wouldn’t count on it, but am certainly hopeful.

  13. Win2k Server has something called “Terminal Services” which is a precursor to Remote Desktop. I don’t recall if Win2kPro has it or not. If it does, that’s the way to go. Otherwise you’re looking at commercial products like pcANywhere and the like.

  14. i am running a windows 2000 server with 3 non profit web sites the server is connected to an ADSL router and a small home network, evry thing is working perfect but “i can not see any one of 3 sites from my home however i can see every thing from out side of my home” (i have a static ip which is redirected to my home servr)….
    plz help me!!!

  15. Sounds like my setup here at home, yet I can see my own server. It might be a function of your router but it’s hard to say – I guess that’s the most likely culprit. Resolving your domain name probably works, but then routing it back to your server is where it may get confused.

    In your shoes I’d probably set up “internal” web sites that mirrored the public ones. Perhaps a single site http://machinename, which had *relative* links to the other content, but depending on how complex your websites were that may have some issues. That site would be visible only from your local lan, but could get you to your content.

  16. i have two machines one runs xp pro one xp home i want to get the files from the xp home to the xp pro i have a router and cable internet connection how can i do this and what kinds of speeds will i get with the transfers

  17. Are both machines in the same location? If so, hook them both up to the router and whatever the speed it supports should work.

  18. this solution seems to be only for windows to windows. is there a telnet/ssh equivalent, so i can access my pc remotely from my mac?

  19. I tried to connect my xp with remote desktop, but a error message occur everytime, the client could not be connected, remote connection might not be enabled ….

    but i did enabled, can you tell me what i can do

  20. I have 1 XP home and 1 XP pro at home. They are connected together with a cable router connected to the internet. I want to connect to these 2 pcs from work. How do I specify the location of my pcs at home ? I think I have a dynamic IP address with my ISP ? Do I need a static one ? Please help!

  21. Can I access an account from another computer on the network if the account being accessed is on a computer that is turned off? One of my computers keeps randomly shutting off, and I want to be able to use one of the accounts I have on it.

  22. Hi Leo,

    I have 2 machines, one with Windows Server 2003 and another one with Windows XP Pro. On the first server I have an application made in DOS, so when I try to run this application remotely from Win XP machine I got a error message about the screen. What I can resolve this??

    Thanks a lot

    Felix Martinez

  23. i would like to point ou that linux distrobutions include rdesktop to log into the windows machine. It can be run as rdesktop {ip address or windows machine} -u {username to login as} -p {password of username}

  24. I’m curious what someone sitting at the computer would see when I connect from remote. Does it wake the monitor up if its asleep? If the monitor is on, could anyone see what I was doing on the PC? If someone were already logged onto that computer, what notification do they get if I disconnect them, does it just bump them back to the logon screen without warning?


  25. It varies. If you’re using remote desktop to access a Windows XP machine, then:

    – If a user is logged in, they will be given a warning message before transfer is controlled to the remote session.
    – I have seen the monitor wake up … but it’s been inconsistant, though, so I can’t say yes or no on this, only “maybe”. I’ve also see it interrupt screen savers.

  26. I have remote desktop enabled on my home computer, and I am able to use it remotly from other machines, except for one, my office computer, I am using Windows 2000 with service pack 4. I am behind a corporate firewall that uses a proxy for internet access with an http type addressing.
    My problem is when I start the remote desktop web connection I can see that I am going somewhere I see a white space and do not get my home computer logon screen.
    What did I not do right?


  27. You probably have a router at home that’s blocking terminal services. As mentioned in the article, you need to have port 3389 on the router forwarded to the machine you want to connect to.

  28. I have a home PC with Win Xp pro and an office pc with Win xp pro on a corporate lan. I would like to access the office pc remotely by using a dial up line to the office pc. how can this be achieved.

  29. I have 1 XP home and 1 XP pro at home. They are connected together with a cable router connected to the internet. I want to connect to these 2 pcs from work. How do I specify the location of my pcs at home ? I think I have a dynamic IP address with my ISP ? Do I need a static one ? Please help!

  30. Is there any way i can access my laptop running windows xp home remotely using my pda?? I m using a wireless adsl router which both my pda and my laptop are connected wirelessly.. i know that win xp home does not have terminal server installed.. is there a way round or any other software that i can use..

  31. Hello,
    I have xp on my office machine which has a 192.168.whatever ip from dhcp in the same office i can use remote desktop but not from my home pc why? and how can i solve this?

  32. What do I need to type into my NetGear 624 router admin screen in order to enable PORT FORWARDING and use Remote Assistant? It asks for:
    Server IP Address:
    Also,what do I type into the *OTHER* computer’s NetGear admin screen?

  33. Not sure about name or type (type could be “TCP”), but the port is 3389, and the server IP address is the IP address of the local server you’re trying to from outside of your lan.

    Shouldn’t need to make any changes on the other end. Connecting OUT to a machine using remote desktop typically just works. It’s connecting in where the router gets in the way unless you forward the ports.

  34. I’m not sure what NetGear wants in the “Name:” field either. Do I just make something up at random?

    Does anyone know *FOR SURE* what “Type:” should be? I guess I could randomly try all the settings. (I’m trying to avoid that.)

    > the server IP address is the IP address of the
    > local server you’re trying to from outside of
    > your lan.

    But how do I *GET* that info?

    Let’s call the 2 machines “expert” (he’s offering assistance”… and “novice” (he’s getting assistance)… which router needs to be changed?


  35. Hopefully you’ve solved this by now but if not this may help. Name can be anything, helps to choose something relevant to what the port’s for though. You only need to open (Type = TCP) TCP port 3389 on the ‘novice’ pc router and forward it to the ip address you get from the following:
    Click ‘Start’ button on ‘novice’ pc, then ‘Run’. Type ‘cmd’, return, ‘ipconfig’, return – the ip address of the pc will be at the top of the list of numbers (will be the same as the router’s ip address with the exception of the last digit(s) I expect).
    Only problem that may occur is if DHCP is enabled on the ‘novice’ pc router and more than one device is attached to the router, then the ip address of the pc may change but this can be ‘fixed’ using address allocation on the router if needed.

  36. I have a PC and a laptop both are on the same LAN. They are both running XP Home. They both have remote desktop client but I’m assuming that neither have remote desktop server. I am able to look at files and access them through file sharing but I want to be able to take control and actually run programs using remote desktop. I am under the impression that remote desktop server only comes with XP Pro. Thats why microsoft shows that you need to have XP Pro on the host and XP Home on the client. Is there a way to make both of them able to be the host using XP Home?

  37. Not for remote desktop, no. You do need Pro, as you say. (It’s the reason I rarely, if ever, run XP Home here at home.)

    The other alternative would be some kind of third party remote access software.

  38. You people have to smarten up for gods sake! Its WINDOWS! The most dumb and easy system to hack. go to download nmap and port scan your computer. You can then see what ports are open. Try downloading REALVNC for windows or linux. Its mad easy to install and operate. And its free. Same as remote desktop. Peace out you wannabe hackers.

  39. HEY JAY, you don’t have to insult ppl on here you @ss… first of all realvnc is not a remote desktop application it’s a remote control, some ppl might want to have remote desktop so they can remote in the local account is still available for concurrent use… btw ppl there is a hack available to have Win XP Pro allow more than multiple connections at a time… BTW Jay the @ss… Just the fact that you have spoke that way about the rest of these ppl makes you the stupidest guy in this post.!

  40. This has some pretty good tips.

    I’m wondering if anyone has had the problem I’m having?


    Laptop (W2K with RD client installed) cabled to Netgear WGT624.
    2 other PC’s both with D-Link DWL520revB and running XP and XPsp2.
    I’m in Infra only mode running at 108.
    If I map drives between the laptop and wireless PC in the other room I can copy files and every now and then I can tell the bandwidth is saturated or something (time estimate keeps going up and stuck on current file) but the connection isn’t dropped.
    If I RD into either host (drives selected in local resources) and try to copy from the laptop to a PC it’ll drop after about 1 minute. with this generic error “The network connection was ended because of a network error. Please try connecting to the remote computer again”. When I reconnect, I see this “Cannot copy xxxxx: The I/O operation has been abarted because of either a thread exit or an application request”

    I can see nothing at all in event viewer.
    I’ve added a keep alive registry key but that’s not it.

    Does anyone know how to limit the bandwidth being used in RDs copy, or somehow make it as forgiving as a regular mapped drive so it will stall but not disconnect?

    The Bear

  41. dear sir

    i am kauslya, student , i need to know, i have a router always it work online. i want to access router another plase through . how can i do it. ples send me step by step

  42. Hi,

    I am trying to do Remote Login across country. I have windows XP Home. Following have been enabled in the windows setting:
    1> Control Panel > Filewall > Exceptions
    Enabled Remote Desktop Login
    2> My Computer > Properties > Remote Tab

    I am behind a firewall and use proxy to access internet.
    Whenever I try remote login to my friend’s computer I get the following Error message.
    “The client could not connect to the remote computer.

    Remote Connections might not be enabled or the computer might be too busy to accept new connections. It is also possible that network problem is preventing your connection.”

    I am not sure where the problem is
    1> Do I have to check out any other setting in the Windows?
    2> IS it because I am behind firewall and the remote login doesn;t work behind firewall.

    Please troubleshoot. I am in a fix.


  43. Hi,
    Please help i have big headhack.

    My friends machine Windows XP pro with SP2
    and Windows Firewall turn on.
    i can’t access default $ share also Not able ping this machine.
    how can acces this my friends machine?

    Please send me Solution ASAP
    very urgent requirement

  44. Hi there,

    I managed to get Remote Desktop working. I am accessing it from my work LAN, to my laptop sitting at home on a broadband connection, and wireless network. My problem…if I leave my laptop logged off (which is how I want to leave it before coming into work), it drops the wireless connection and I am unable to remote into it. So I tried leaving the laptop logged in to my account,I am able to remote in, but then the console user session is logged out, and the wireless connection is dropped again,meaning I lose my connection from work to laptop. Is there anywway to keep the wireless connection alive even when logging out of windows on my laptop??? how does one normally do this?

    thank you!

  45. So what I want to do is connect to my home PC from work. I used to do this all the time from my previous position, but I’m having problems here. My home box is running XP Pro, and IIS & RDP are installed. I use a router, but port forwarding is set up. I’m able to connect to my computer from other places, but it times out here. My work PC btw is running XP Pro as well. To connect I’ve tried both the RDP client, and the web interface via tsweb…I can connect to my router, but the rdp page (when using IE) wont load…and the client wont connect. Am I somehow being blocked, and if I am, can I bypass?


  46. Dale: the wireless connection should not drop when you log off. There’s something wrong going on with that. I’ve not experienced that directly, but given semi-related wireless issues, I’d suspect the drivers and in your shoes, I’d look into updating those first.

  47. Dear Sir,
    I am Hariom sharma i have one computer at my home and i have one pc in my office and the distenace of my home and office is 7K.M. , i want connect both computer and file transfer home to offce and office to home ,Please help me sir how can i do it


  48. Dear sir , i have a one more question i have win 98 in my home pc , and windows XP in my office pc how can i connect both pc home to office and how can i do file transfer

  49. does anyone have a hack to install winxp pro remote desktop host on win xp home, i have two windows xp home computers and i want to use the remote desktop connection, i’ve been told that if i can get the windows xp pro remote desktop host it can be hacked anyone got any ideas???

  50. I went down this path myself, and couldn’t find a good solution. I ended up installing and using TightVNC instead. Works fine.

  51. Any IBM laptop I use will not remote into this deskstop “using Remote Desktop connection”>
    All firewalls are off.

    What is blocking me?
    However, I can connect using another desktop to desktop.

  52. hi i was wondering if anyone can help i recently (today) upgraded to win xp pro and i cannot connect to the computer running it with remote desktop and i cant find terminal services anywhere could someone plz help

  53. Hi Leo,

    I’ve got several XP Pro PCs in a wireless network (Linksys), and I use remote desktop a lot. My problem is that I am not able to remote control any of them after a reboot unless I first have done a local login (and logoff). It seems to me that there is a service that should have been started on boot that don’t. Is there a way to change this behaviour?

  54. Hi There
    I am having the same problem connecting to a wireless based pc using rdp once i have rebooted. When I log on locally I have no problem thereafter.



  55. I went to and got a static IP for my computer. This also helped me because I have a home private network which was blocking my access to log onto my home computer from another location. Once you sign up (which is free) there is a free download.

  56. i want to acces my friends mchine through internet so that i can remotely connect with his machine through internet ,
    can you help me about this

  57. Hello sir,
    i want to acces my friends mchine through internet so that i can remotely connect with his machine through internet ,
    can you help me about this

  58. Hi,is there a way that I can remotely access a computer without an administrative right?
    I have been using the $(Dollar sign script) but this requires that you must be the domain administrator to have access to the “c:” drive of the remote computer..also if I donot have administrative rights it will prompt me to enter in the administrator’s username and password.

    Is there another way where I can go to run on the start button type in the script click the OK button and gain access without witout the administrator’s rights?

    Look forward in hearing from you.


    Hash: SHA1

    I use TightVNC to do that. ( It’s not a workaround, as
    much as it is a replacement. There are other VNC packages as well.


    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


  60. sir, you are doing a great job. keep it up.
    i want to connect to a machine tht i have assigned a local ip address( on a network tht has its public ip as throug the internet from a system on another network(…i can ping the public ip from command prompt of can also do a telnet of :80 from the same system (get a blank page with nothing written on it) but cannot connect to the device on the internet when i type in on the internet explorer web address bar: with ip via its public ip…please i urgently need to do this as i want to remotelly through the internet log into the device and have it configured… Please help me in detail please…thanks
    Nwaokomah O.C Solomon

  61. I am able to connect multiple computers within my network using remote desktop. However using the same laptop I am unable to connect to those computers. In the office I can set up the remote desktop and take that laptop home to my house and I am unable to access that same computer I just accessed?? I am stumped and need some help.
    Thank you

  62. Hi!!
    I,m trying to access my machine using the IP.Is there any way to give the username and password in url as parameters so that we wont get that user name and password asking window.

    look forward to here from you…

  63. You could also use something like I’m InTouch ( that would let you remotely access and control an XP machine remotely. You don’t have to worry about IP addresses or difficult configurations, it is pretty straightforward.

  64. Hi,
    I have XP Professional with SP2 in my laptop and I have installed VM machine in the same laptop to install Oracle Apps 11i which is working fine.
    Now, the issue is that I want to access APPS on Virtual Machine (VM) through my main machine and also want to give access to other peoples but I dont know how to should I do that.
    Could you please help me

  65. I am in pakistan and i want to take the access of my window 2003 server in america,i have no public IP.what should i do???either terminal services require public IP or not???help me

  66. Hi Sir, I want to connect remotely at my grandfather’s PC in U.S.A. and I’m here in Philippines. We’re both using a router. How & where can I configure the port 3389 in the firewall? Thank you very much…

  67. Please let me know how can i access my home desktop through the my laptop both is connected with internet.because i want to keep my laptop data to my laptop with the sharing of drive.
    please help me and send all procedure.


  69. Hello, I have a Windows Vista system at home with RDP software and services enabled and right now I am at office. I have the public IP that my ISP has given me. From office when I start the RDP software, in the computer name box i type my IP, when I click connect, after 5 seconds it says could not connect as the server might be bust. Any detailed description on as how to do all this. Both systems are on entirely different networks, gateway is not same and I am not using VPN.

  70. Dear Sir,
    I want access the client machine deskop on my system.the team viewer is use to one-to-one process.I want one-to-many.Pls Help.Thank u.

  71. Possible Solution: For those using a VPN either at work or at home, you may need to download Cisco VPN Client or similar to manage your VPN connections. Also, you will need your router to authenticate traffic as this is a job typically handled by the modem. This can be done by logging in to your modem properties and selecting “enable transparent bidge” or simply “enable bridge mode”. If your VPN is monitored offsite by a third party, then you will need a UID and PW for the Client software. Without any VPN’s in place, you need your target machine to have a Static IP and this will need to be setup in your router as well. Router Setup guides can be easily found online. For small to mid-size business applications I recommend the Cisco 7200 series and for home a Linksys or NetGear would be fine. I hope this helped and I welcome any corrections to any mistakes I may have made. Thank You.

  72. Dear Sir,
    I want access the client machine deskop on my system.the team viewer is use to one-to-one process.I want one-to-many.Pls Help.Thank u.


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