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Use remote desktop for administration

This tip provides step-by-step instructions on how to enable XP remote access.

If you're using Windows XP Pro in your organization, you'll find it offers a feature called Remote Desktop that is based on Terminal Services. Using Remote Desktop you can log onto a system from another machine and your applications and files as if you were sitting there in front of the system locally. While this feature is useful to some end users, it is particularly helpful for administrators who can change server settings; add, modify, or delete users and computers; open a Command Prompt box to enter CLI commands; and even reboot a system.

First, you must enable remote access by doing the following:

  1. Open the Properties dialog box for your server's Computer icon.
  2. Click on the Remote tab and then select the Allow users to connect remotely to this computer option.
  3. You will also need to add any additional users (including non admins) that you want by clicking on Select Remote Users and specifically adding them.
  4. Back out of all of the nested dialog boxes to finish your settings.

To use Remote Desktop you need to be running Terminal Services on your server and have the Terminal Services client available on your remote system. XP has a built in client (mstsc.exe) called the Remote Desktop Connection that you can use. You can use the Run command to initiate that program. You can find this application in the Start menu's Program menu. It's contained in the Communications folder on the Accessories subfolder. You'll see the system display a smaller desktop screen on your desktop, but you can click Connect to go to a full-screen session. With Options you can change your display and input characteristics, controlling screen resolution, keyboard and mouse, connections to printers and other devices, as well as performance parameters such as compression and bitmap caching. Since it's based on Terminal Services, Remote Desktop is well suited for use over even slow dial-up connections.

Barrie Sosinsky is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.

This was last published in January 2003

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