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How can I connect to my home computer from work?


I have a couple of computers at home, running Windows XP Home and XP Pro. They are connected to the internet using a broadband router. I’d like to connect to them from my place of work. How do I do that?

Well, it may be possible, but there are several barriers in your way. It could get complicated, but we’ll look at each of the barriers in turn, and consider ways to overcome them, if possible.

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First, I’m going to assume that you want to connect using Remote Desktop. Using that, when you finally do connect, you’ll have access to the remote computer almost as if you were sitting in front of it. The bad news here is that Remote Desktop is a feature of Windows XP Pro, and is not present in XP Home. You’ll only be able to access your XP Pro machines using Remote Desktop.

Our first barrier is your place of work. Depending on how they are connected to the internet, you simply may not be able to connect out. Larger corporations often restrict what protocols are allowed to access the internet. Quite often they restrict access to web surfing and email. If that’s the case where you work, there’s little recourse, other than pleading with your IT department to allow the Remote Desktop protocol (on port 3389) to reach the internet.

The next barrier, or at least point of confusion, is your IP address. The easiest scenario is if you have a static IP address at home. That way you’ll always know what IP address to connect to. In fact, if you have a static IP, you can even register and assign a domain to it, so that you can access your home network by name – something like – rather than IP address.

“You’ll only be able to access your XP Pro machines using Remote Desktop.”

If you have a dynamic IP address, you can still get to your network. You simply need to know what the current IP address is. There are several approaches, however none of them are really elegant. For example, you can call home and ask someone to visit a site such as Plot IP, which will display your IP, and then have them read it to you over the phone. If you have access to a web server’s access logs, you can have your computer at home visit a specific web page periodically and retrieve the IP address from the logs. And finally there are tools that you can use to map a domain name – like – to a dynamic IP. These tools do require that you install software on your computer to detect IP address changes, and when a change occurs, it may take up to 48 hours for the DNS changes to make their way across the internet.

The good news about a dynamic IP is that if your router stays connected continuously, the IP address is actually not likely to change often.

The next barrier is your router. A router acts as a firewall, and prevents most connections coming in from the internet. Most people only connect out, to surf the web, download files or read email, so that’s not a problem for them. But connecting from a remote location to your home is a connection coming in from the outside. The router needs to be configured to forward port 3389 (the Remote Desktop Protocol port) to the computer you want to connect to. Unfortunately, exactly how that’s done will vary depending on kind of router you have – you’ll have to check the

Note that I said you need to configure it to forward to the computer you want to connect to. You can access only one of your computers directly through your router this way. (There are techniques where you can specify that Remote Desktop listen on ports other than 3389. Then by using a different such port for each computer, and forwarding each through the router to the appropriate computer, you can connect directly to each. That’s beyond the scope of this article, and more complex than most folks will want to deal with.)

My approach, for what it’s worth, is to allow external remote access to only one machine on my network. Once connected to that machine I can, if needed, use Remote Desktop on it to connect to any other machine on my network. It can be a little confusing from a UI perspective, knowing which of the three machines connected in sequence my keystrokes are actually going to, but in practice I don’t do it often.

Our final barrier is your IP address on your LAN. Your IP address on the internet, whether static or dynamic, is assigned by your ISP and really identifies only one device: your router. Within your local network, the router then typically assigns local IP addresses to all of your computers. The router then handles making sure that all the data traveling between the computers on your  local network and the internet all go to the right computers.

Those local IP addresses never leave your network – the internet sees only your router’s IP address. So when you configure your router to forward port 3389 to a computer, you need to select one of your local computers, and configure its IP address as the destination for Remote Desktop. Then, when the router receives a Remote Desktop request from the internet, it forwards that request to the computer whose IP address you configured.

The “problem” is that your local network is, more than likely, using dynamic IP addresses. That means that the IP addresses that are assigned to each computer could change over time. If you leave your computers on all the time, the addresses won’t change, and you’re probably OK configuring the router with the current IP address of the computer you want to access remotely. If it ever
changes, you’ll need to update your router’s port forwarding configuration for port 3389.

If that’s unacceptable or inconvenient, the only real solution is to configure one of your computers to have a static IP address, and then configure the router to forward to that one as the Remote Desktop target. Depending on your router it can be as easy as:

  • Configuring the router to assign IP addresses from one range … say and up.
  • Configuring the TCP/IP properties of one of your machines to be a static IP, and defining it with a value out of that range – say, (normally is reserved for the router itself).

In many cases that’s enough. In cases where other machines on your network cannot “see” this one machine, it may be necessary to add an entry to the “hosts” file on all the other machines that defines the static IP address for this one machine: machinename

There’s more on hosts in this article: Can I fake the DNS IP lookup to test my website?.

As you can see, things get fairly complex fairly quickly. There are other solutions, but I’ve not tried any of them myself so I’m not qualified to comment on their suitability or their ease of setup:

  • Commercial solutions such as PC Anywhere, or GoToMyPC.
  • VNC (Virtual Network Computing) solutions that operate much like Remote Desktop. RealVNC is one example.
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network) solutions that create a virtual connection to your entire local network. In recent years, some types of routers come with VPN support built in.

Perhaps some readers will chime in with their experiences with those, or other, solutions.

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50 comments on “How can I connect to my home computer from work?”

  1. (There are techniques where you can specify that Remote Desktop listen on ports other than 3389. Then by using a different such port for each computer, and forwarding each through the router to the appropriate computer you can connect directly to each. That’s beyond the scope of this article, and more complex than most folks will want to deal with.)

    Leo I have this problem, can you help me so that I can have two remote desktop connections on two seperate computers through a router with a static ip.

  2. [quote]
    If you have a dynamic IP address, you can still get to your network, you simply need to know what the current IP address is. There are several approaches, however none of them are really elegant. For example, you can call home and ask someone to visit a site such as Plot IP, which will display your IP, and then having them read it to you over the phone. If you have access to a web server’s access logs, you can have your computer at home visit a specific web page periodically and retrieve the IP address from the logs.

    Great work, Mr.Leo Notenboom. The article is exactly what I have been searching for in recent days. I have the same problem, only a bit difference that I would like to connect to my work computer from home but not the vice versa. And I actually did it, I went through all these: port forwarding on the company’s router (ADSL modem), port mapping (to my work computer) on the computer that runs as the firewall of the company network, and remote desktop connection. It works! But still the IP problem is bugging, since the modem-router is assigned a dynamic IP by the ISP. It means the IP which I will connect to is changing, though not very frequently, but that fact will make it not always possible to get connected.

    So I read your writing: “ask someone to visit a site such as Plot IP, which will display your IP, and then having them read it to you over the phone”. I laughed. That’s funny. Ok, so my questions are:

    1. Is there a more elegant way to get the IP in question?

    2. is not accurate! It only gives the IP of the my ISP’s proxy server. Of course, one cannot connect to that IP. In order to get connected, I have to use the WAN IP address read in the modem, or go to the following web site: to read the real IP:

    Your IP Is
    Proxy Detected Is

    I suppose your site also log my IP address and will only see the 2nd one.

  3. I’ve tried everything and I still cannot connect to my home PC with a “client could not connect to the remote computer” error. We use Remote Desktop connections at work, and I’ve even used it on my home PC to connect to my friends computer through the internet.

    I’ve even gone so far as to set my private IP to the DMZ on the router with my software firewall disabled, the PC should have a direct connection to the web with no interference! I’ve forwarded port 3389 on the router, enabled remote access, set up a password for my account, tried the WANIP:3389 in the connection field, and no matter what I do, nothing works. Any ideas? My internet connection works great, but the Remote Connection is a no-go!

  4. Hi Dave W, you’ve really gone too far with those steps you did. In my case, I can connect to my work computer from home even when my home PC is firewalled, no port forwarding, no DMZ. Just don’t block outgoing traffic and you will be able to connect to a remote computer that is able to accept incoming traffic on port 3389. It works just like that.

  5. Ok, I was misinformed, XP Home does NOT support remote connections as a remote computer. Apparentpy only XP Pro supports an incoming connection without the installation of 3rd party software.. That sucks.

  6. Hi Leo,

    This is a good tutorial for Remote Desktop connection.

    My problem is this, I have a Pix Firewall installed on my office, and I need some outside users to access the server from internet.

    I configure the pix so they can log in, the problem is that only 1 user from the same network can connect at the time, I need several at the same time with the Cisco VPN connection.

    Let me explain,

    If 2 or 3 users are on the same internet network, let say, – only one of them can connect to the vpn.

    How Can I configure the pix to allow multiusers from the same network to access the server?

    the pix firewall is Cisco Pix 501 and the client is cisco vpn client.

    Thanks for the help.

  7. To anyone out there who can assist. I’m able to connect remotely from my office to my home using Remote Desktop on port 3389. However; if I were to change my RDP port from 3389 to any other number, it will not connect. I’ve also edited the registry to reflect the new port for RDP, rebooted and still no luck. When I go to RDP and type in my Internet address followed by (:newportnumber) it also fails. Can anyone please assist me with getting this connect established.
    Thank you

  8. Alexei,

    If you change the port number to loggin remotely then you need stick the port number at the end of the ip address..lets say that you changed the port muber to 45000 and your ip address is …. then you will need to type in ……

    Hope this helps

  9. Hi, I find all coments very interested but my case is totally different. I have two routers at home. One connects to Internet with my ISP, the other connects three computers and a camera wirelessly. The thing is that I’d like one of my routers to update my IP address at the service (onle the Linksys can do that), but it won’t detect the correct IP adress assigned by my ISP. It only detects the IP assigned to it by the other router connected to the ISP. So when I go to DynDNS, it shows that my IP address is sonething like

    Any thoughts on how to solve this?

    Thanks a lot.

  10. Ruben Hiciano, in order for you to accuratly view your internet IP, you need to set up the IP update function on the router connected to the modem. That is the only way you can get that IP address. I am using a Linksys BEFSX41 Broadband Firewall Router for that very reason. It splits my internet connection for me to my computers. I can also hook up a wireless router after the broadband router and it will work. I suggest you go to and search for your router and maaby look at their support and FAQ pages. Hope this helps- Shadoe McClure, IT Department

  11. Hello,

    You can try out trial (30days) ,which will eventually become a free version. You are free to add many computers and access your PC from anywhere. Alternatively, you can try out ‘s Virtual Lan feature. If you have configured your PC to allow Remote Desktop Connection, you can actually use the IP assigned to you by Hamachi, to connect to your PC, just like in the LAN.

    Send me an email if you need help . I tried VNC , Gotomypc. The above solution is my favourite


  12. I’m in the process of setting up 1 computer to use PCanywhere to access and local LAN, and a entirly different network at another office location.

    Setting up the LAN was easy enough, as long as the host computers brodcasted the remote computer could access them without getting too much into IP settings. Getting PCAnywhere to connect to the other WAN location was just about as tricky as using remote desktop. You still have to use point forwarding and configure everyone to a static IP, give everyone a port, and then match them up in the router settings, which is a big hassle if you have 10+ computers.

    So just letting you guys know out there that PCanywhere is not any simpler then the methods described above.

  13. i have installed dlink router for broadband and smc router for wirefree connectivity both at home and work. my problem is i have been given an ip address from my broadband service provider to install at home . and because of wirefree connectivity with laptop i have assigned everywhere automatic ip address assignment. my static ip add is now how do i install the static ip is it through smc ip add which is or dlink which is and the rest of the process please help and explain as i am trying for two months but no one was of help[

  14. Hi everybody,
    I have an ADSL router “ZyXel Prestige 660R-61C” and a NetGear switch, and I want to connect to another office location with same setup but uses a “Prolink” ADSL router. I did everything in this article, specially Port Forwarding is done exactly how it explained in (URL:, still it gives an big error message saying… “The client could not connect to the remote computer .. blah blah”. So pls if anyone can help.. Thnx!

  15. What EXACTLY goes into the “Remote Connection” box when you enter the computer your trying to remotely log into from work?!!? Is it (//router ip:(host port#)/compip)??!?! Can somebody please post an example. Thanks!!!

  16. Hi Leo,

    I want to operate my friend’s computer remotely using RealVNC. We have installed RealVNC on her machine. I have also added this RealVNC4.exe in Windows Firewall exceptions list. Now when I ask her IP address (ipconfig) over the phone, she tells me that she is only able to see the ip address of her router ( She has also given me the ip address which she obtained by visiting but even by using that IP address, I am not able to connect to her machine. How do we connect ? Are we not able to get the correct IP behind the router ?

  17. i use you download their free software and then, wherever you are or what your ip adress is, you just log into their website and click on your computer. it works great and it’s free, however, you can’t hear sound or share files but to just look at the other desktop and run other computer processes it’s great. hope this helps.

  18. hi leo, thank u for ur valuable information.
    i have some problem plz help me. i have broadband band connection with dynamic ip. my modem is connected to the wireless router and 4 conputer is connected to it wirlessly. i had install a DVR card to one of my pc and attach 4 cameras to it. from my local IP i can see it from othe pc by typing ip address ( but from out side i can connect it by using intenet dynamic address. when i type the dynamic address its open my modem settings when i add port like 81 then its not working. plese help me to reach to the dvr pc.

    Hash: SHA1

    Yes. Remeber, Hamachi just makes the machines appear to all
    be on the same network, so anything you can do on the same
    network you can do via Hamachi, and in the same way as being
    on the same network.

    The only caveat is not so much about Hamachi as it is about
    the internet connection speed: printing across a VPN can be
    extremely slow because it often sends a LOT of data.


    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


  20. Hi Leo

    i am trying to set up a VPN server on my home network so i can access my network drives from the internet when i not at home! i have set my home pc as the server but trying to set my laptop to access the drive from the internet seems not to work. i have signed up to DysDNS and linked that to my pc and set up a VPN on my laptop but it still not connecting via internet. i have port forwarding om my bt hub and added Dyndns information in the the bt hub too, is there anything i am missing?



  21. Hi Leo,
    You information has been very helpful. I’ve been trying to set up Remote Desktop, but did not know hot to connect to the remote computer which I had already setup to accept remote connections. Your information on configuring my router to forward port 3389 to the host machine was the missing link, and now I successfully made the remote connection!

    Thank you!


  22. Hello Leo,
    I am trying to connect to my home network via the remote desktop. My “main” computer only has XP home, but another one in my network has XP Pro and is connected to my network by a wireless card. Is there a way for me to connect to the machine that has XP pro on it ? I ran ipchicken and my ip addresses are the same on all of my home computers.

  23. hi Leo

    i have one digital indicator with network interface i want connect that remote indicator through internet , cilent place intetnet is there but no static ip any option is there how to connect that indicator through internet

  24. I used to be able to connect to my corporate server from my home network via a Cisco VPN connection. Currently, I can only connect to my corporate server via the aforementioned Cisco VPN connection but by using a Sprint aircard. Something has obviously changed on my home network router/firewall that prevents me from successfully connecting to my corporate VPN IP address, but I am unable to determine what–if anything–has changed in my home network router/firewall and how to circumvent the issue. Any assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated.

  25. I have configured static ip on one machine in one network & trying to access it from another machine in another network…
    I have mentioned the correct url & port i.e. configured in the router having static ip..
    Please suggest me some troubleshooting points.

  26. I am working in a office now i am using wireless internet with laptop on second floor one desktop computer with cable connection on third floor,so now i want to remote that computer from my laptop how can any one can teel me plz

  27. The by far easiest and least expensive way to accomplish this is to use LOGMEIN. There is a free version without expiration. Works just like the GOTOMYPC that is advertised but without the expense. Try it at their web site

  28. These are obviously newbie-type questions, so I would appreciate your indulgence. Here goes: Let’s say I’ve installed LogMeIn on my desktop home computer using WinXP Home Edition. I take my laptop, which is LogMeIn enabled, on vacation to Florida for a month, and initially I can successfully access my home computer from the laptop. Everything is good and I’m happy.

    Questions: Must I leave my home computer running continuously for a month with no reboot? Is this realistic? Can LogMeIn reboot my home computer remotely and re-establish its connection? Let’s say my home computer suffers a glitch and hangs, or has a BSOD, or a power outage. Question: Will LogMeIn be able to restart the home PC and recover? If so, great! However, if my home computer can’t be rebooted and LogMeIn can’t reconnect automatically, What are the options? Would there be a danger in leaving the home computer on but malfunctioning for a month? Are my fears realistic? Are there any other dangers or conditions where I wouldn’t/shouldn’t use LogMeIn? Am I missing something obvious?

    I’d appreciate some guidance in this. Thanks!

    Frank D

    Utilities like LogMeIn require that software be running on your home computer, so if it’s off or crashed, they simply cannot work. What I don’t know (ironically) is if your machine reboots and requires that you login, will the LogMeIn software be running at that point so that you can, remotely. I would hope so, but I’m not sure.


  29. Leo’s response to my question:
    “Utilities like LogMeIn require that software be running on your home computer, so if it’s off or crashed, they simply cannot work. What I don’t know (ironically) is if your machine reboots and requires that you login, will the LogMeIn software be running at that point so that you can, remotely. I would hope so, but I’m not sure.
    Leo / 22-Apr-2010″

    My response to Leo:
    Thank you, Leo. I suspected that LogMeIn wouldn’t be able to handle all those “if’s” I threw at it. I appreciate your opinion.

    Frank D

  30. As far as I’m aware Hamachi on its own will not offer full remote control. You can access the remote computer and the files/folders thereon but cannot control it.

    For remote control I use a combination of Hamachi and RealVNC. Hamachi provides a secure, static, IP address. I then connect to the Hamachi-allocated IP address using RealVNC which provides full remote access.

    Hopefully, someone will put me right if I’m out of touch with reality!

    Remote Desktop, built into Windows Pro and better, works as well.


  31. I am using RealVNC at home on 5 systems with D-Link DI-624 extrem G. My rounter has a DMZ fuction that allows me to assign one ip onside the firewall of my router. My router is set to DHCP and remains on all time. I have set 3 of the 5 computers with a static IP address…one of them being the DMZ system. What I would do is connect to my routher and go the the status connection to find out what my modem (comcast) ipaddress is. I have 2 questtions. 1. Assignng on system outside the I still need to forward port 3389 to that system. and 2. When I run RealVNC from work….what is the syntax i put in the ipaddress to access my home computer. I am assuming it is….modem ipaddress/compuer ipaddress. Or do I also need to include the router gateway ipaddress.

  32. I have a network which is working OK. Then I add an old win2K3 server and after about 5 min, it crashes my internet connection. I have tried both static and DHCP IP addressing

  33. i have a question, this is only related to remote desktop connection…

    so here is the problem, network-A has static IP, and network-B has also a static IP. Network B can remote desktop one of our server on network-A, but this server from Network-A cannot connect or RDC to network-B,(maybe the port forwarding set up) but even ping is not working from the server(network-A) to the router of network B…

    please advice… thank you

  34. There’s actually an easy way to get your home IP address if it is dynamic. All you need to do is create a gmail account (if you don’t have one already). Log into that account from home and leave it logged in. At work, you can log into that same account and gmail will tell you all the IPs that are logged into the account.

    Easy and dynamic. You may want to create a gmail account just for this purpose if you don’t want somebody reading your email at home.

  35. Thanks, Chris!!
    Your posting of 1 Feb 2011 @ 9h55 solves the problem of getting that dynamic IP address you want to connect to, for instance when you want to use Windows Remote Desktop to access anything on your home computer from an airport, college campus or WiFi-enabled café…
    For the non-initiated, I would just add a technical instruction: start a WWW browser (IE; Mozilla Firefix, Chrome, … whichever) and enter in the Address line:
    Execute it, read the screen and enjoy, for FREE, the dynamic IP address of the target computer or router!

  36. there is an easy way to do this.

    1-run or istall team viewer on your home pc go to extra toolbar and then option and then go to general and set start team viewr on windows start up and then go to security and set your own password .then connect to internet and write your pc id from team viewer windows.

    2-run team viewer on your work pc and connect to internet .type your HOME pc id in the right box and in the password window type the password that you choose before.

    3-in this way you don not need static ip for your home pc .

    4-you can send me an email if you have other problems like this.

  37. I am using remote desktop from my Netbook to connect to my ThinkPad (both at home). When on my Netbook accessing a file from my ThinkPad, can I somehow save a file to my Netbook before exiting Remote Desktop?

  38. leo sir,

    i have use 2 computer 1 computer at home & 2 computer at office.

    i how to work at home computer at our office

    and secound sir i have use home computer IP Address use and work at our office

    i hope your are reply is early is possible

    please sir

    reply me

    thanking you
    ankur shah


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