How To Remote Into Your Computer For Free

Suppose for a moment that you have a lot of data that you need to access on your computer at any given moment, but you don’t want to lug it around with you everywhere you go. The easiest way to do this is to simply remote into your computer from another location. Seems easy enough, until you come to the realization that after searching for software that allows you to perform this, that almost all of them require money. Thankfully, rather than shelling out your hard earned cash to access your own data from across the internet, there are free ways to do this.

If you’re working with computers that have the same version of Windows installed, you can remotely access the computer by going to Start>Accessories>Remote Desktop Connection. Once you start Remote Desktop Connection, you’ll be prompted with a screen that asks you for the computer name, provided you’re looking for one that’s already on the network. Most of the time you probably won’t be using this option, so you’ll want to hit the button that says “Options>>”, which will expand to a whole range of input forms that allow you to specify where the computer is on either a network or over the internet, display quality, various system settings, and more. Once you decide how you want to connect remotely to the computer, you’re free to hit “Connect” and be on your way. Remote Desktop Connection is available for the following operating systems: Windows 9x, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, and Mac OSX. Also keep in mind that it’s best to make sure that both computers are running the same operating system. You can also use a wan to connect remote employees working at home with the company’s main office.

Even though the default install of Remote Desktop Connection is fairly limited in its capability to perform other tasks, Microsoft does have another free application called Windows LiveMesh, however it also has its drawbacks and its advantages. LiveMesh is designed to run on Windows Vista and later, along with Mac OSX installed on systems with Intel architecture. The advantage to this is that even though LiveMesh is only designed to run on Vista, 7 and OSX, there is a layer of cross compatibility with different operating systems. This means that if you need to remotely access files that are stored on a Mac, you can access these files with LiveMesh from a Windows platform or vice versa. Unfortunately, if you’re running an earlier version of windows, you’ll probably want to use Remote Desktop Connection.

The features/limitations of LiveMesh are as follows:

Between PCs, you can sync up to 200 folders containing up to 100000 files each, with each file having the upper data limit of 40GB a piece. This roughly translates to a maximum transfer total of 800 Petabytes across 20 million files. Most users will never reach this kind of limit unless they are dealing with transferring large storage arrays over the internet.

LiveMesh allows up to 5GB worth of files to be stored on Microsoft Servers (in the cloud). In comparison to the storage capacity of current drives available on the market, this isn’t really a whole lot of data, however, most users will probably be using it to store documents and other types of files to be accessed from different locations, instead of media such as music and movies.

Remote Desktop access is also available via LiveMesh and Windows Live Devices. LiveMesh also allows some application settings to be transferred as well, such as those used with Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office.

The last product that we’ll briefly cover allows you to remotely connect to another computer is VNC. Although the paid versions of this application are a lot more versatile and offer a richer, and more robust set of features, the reason why this is also a popular solution is because of its ability to connect to any other VNC server, regardless of the operating system that VNC is installed on. Even if there isn’t a client written for a particular operating system, there are also VNC Clients and Servers written in Java, which is also platform independent. If you’re looking for a basic application to handle remoting into a computer (and provided you have appropriate third party software installed to handle data transfer), then VNC is definitely an application worth looking into.

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