A client side tool, the Remote Desktop Connection tool can help you connect to a terminal server. While the tool has to be installed on computers with Windows 2000 or earlier, it is already installed on Windows XP.
With the help of Remote Desktop, application can be made to run on the remote computer from any other computer which has a Windows operating system. While the applications run on the remote computer, keyboard and mouse input and the display data are transmitted over the network from the local computer to the remote computer.
The components that make Remote Desktop access possible are Remote Desktop Protocol and client software like Remote Desktop Connection and Remote Desktop Web Connection.
As mentioned earlier, XP has Remote Desktop Connection installed, it only has to be enabled on the computer, while you will have to install and then deploy the tool on other versions of Windows. Here, both the topics are covered individually and towards the end, are a few tips that will help increase security measures.
Windows XP Professional
To enable Remote Desktop on computers with XP professional as the operating system:
- Log on to the computer using the administrator's credentials.
- Right click on 'My Computers' and select 'Properties'.
- In the 'System Properties' tab, select the 'Remote' tab.
- Select the checkbox against the label 'Allow users to connect remotely to this computer'.
- Next, select 'Remote Users'.
- Click on 'Add' in the 'Remote Desktop Users' dialog box.
- Add the name of the user or the group who has to be given permission to access the computer remotely.
- Lastly, install the Remote Desktop Connection or the Terminal Services Client on the local machine from which you need to access the computer remotely.
Earlier Versions of Windows
To enable Remote Desktop on computers with earlier version of Windows as the operating system:
- Insert the Windows XP Professional operating system CD into the CD drive. (In case the CD is not available with you, you can also download the installation package from the Microsoft website)
- Click on 'Perform Additional Task' on the start page. Then click on 'Setup Remote Desktop Connection'.
- In the 'Remote Desktop Connection―Install Shield' which opens up, follow all the instructions till the installation is complete.
- Lastly, install the Remote Desktop Connection on the machine from which you need to access the computer remotely.
Configuring Remote Desktop Connection to Enhance Security
Some measures that you can incorporate to enhance the security of your network are:
- Set a Complex Password: As the Remote Desktop relies on the Windows login password, ensure that the password is complex which cannot be guessed. A strong password of 10 to 16 alphanumeric characters is recommended.
- Change the Listening Port of Remote Desktop: On the host machine, change the default port that is used by the Remote Desktop Connection. This change has to be made in the registry.
- Configure the Router: All routers come with the same default password. It should be changed immediately. You will have to configure your router so that inbound connections to the remote computer are allowed, which involves the process of mapping a port on the router to a port on the local computer. This port should be disabled when you foresee inactivity.
- Disable Clipboard Redirection: By disabling this feature, you can prevent users from copying text from the host computer to the local computer and pasting text from the local computer to the host computer.
- Disable Printer Redirection: By disabling this feature, the user cannot use the printer connected to their local computer to print any document that is stored on the host computer.
- Disable all Advanced Features: This point is not related to the security feature, but the speed with which the Remote Desktop sessions work. To increase the speed, ensure that all the advanced features on the host computer are disabled. To do so, click on Control Panel―System―Properties―Advanced―Performance Settings Button―Adjust for Best Performance.
If you face any trouble while installing, configuring, or enabling the Remote Desktop Connection, you will find more than enough troubleshooting tips on the Internet.
To conclude, Remote Desktop provides the facility of accessing a server from a remote location, giving you the flexibility of accessing it at your convenience. Make sure that you have handled all the security-related issues and have configured it well to make maximum use of the tool.