Remote Torrent
November 29, 2016 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Is there an android or Browser app that will let me remotely control my PC at home? Most of the Android options I see are for a phone running on the same network and can only access a minimum of apps on the desktop. I'd like full remote desktop access from an android app.

Specifically: I'd like to remotely instruct my PC to download specific torrents. If there is a more specific or automated way to do this that would be great.
posted by kittensofthenight to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you're willing to pay, yes, LogMeIn lets you remotely access a computer from browser or android. I think there are some VNC-based solutions but, as someone who needs access to customer servers, it was not something I ever got reliably working for me.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:38 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Chrome Remote Desktop allows you to control your entire machine, not just the browser. It worked on iOS, I assume Android support because, well, Google.
posted by cgg at 4:45 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Transmission has a web gui and there's an unoffical windows build.
posted by mce at 5:02 PM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

My Synology NAS does this (but I've disabled the option because I don't like keeping my NAS that exposed to the world).

You ought to be able to set your torrent client to check for torrents in a Dropbox folder and then just copy the torrent files into that folder from your phone. You wouldn't be able to select files within that torrent using this method though.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:38 PM on November 29, 2016

Transmission not only has a Web GUI, there are mobile apps for it too. I used to use Torrnado on my Android phone. But it does require opening the firewall to allow the machine running the torrent to be accessed from outside your network. I also found it didn't work so well with the Windows version of Transmission and when I stopped using a Mac mini as my torrent server, I switched to ĀµTorrent. ĀµTorrent has an official mobile app and it doesn't require opening the firewall.
posted by kindall at 5:49 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is much nerdier than something like LogMeIn, but if you really want security - here's what I do:

1) Pay my ISP an extra $5/month for a static IP. Alternatively, you could look into a dynamic DNS solution, but I have never played around with those.
2) Set up an SSH server (I use BitVise SSH for Windows) on your Windows machine (or any other machine on your network.)
3) Forward the necessary port on your firewall to the SSH server so that you can log into it from the outside world.
4) Get an SSH client (I use ConnectBot) for your Android device
5) If using a version of Windows that doesn't support Remote Desktop, install VNC Server on your desktop
6) Configure ConnectBot to forward local port 3000 to remote port localhost:3389 (Remote Desktop) or remote port localhost:5900 (VNC). The latter may be different based on how you configured your VNC server.
7) Get "RD Client" or "VNC Viewer" for Android
8) Establish the SSH connection. The first time you do so, it'll show you the SSH key being used. Look at your Windows server and confirm that you're getting the same key that it's serving.
9) Connect via either VNC or RD to localhost:3000. The SSH software will then magically forward that network connection to your desktop.

Properly configured, this connection is all but unhackable, even by adversaries with substantial computational, legal, and financial resources.

On a side note, VNC doesn't lock the desktop while running, so you can connect and still see the desktop on the main machine. I have discovered that this is useful for controlling the computer attached to my TV - swiping around on the screen to move the mouse is easier than using the little trackpad on my keyboard.
posted by Hatashran at 6:03 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

uTorrent also has a web UI that you can set up with password access and accessibility from any network.
posted by sagc at 6:35 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding uTorrent. Web UI makes it accessible from anywhere. I've used it. It is easy and it works.
posted by irisclara at 7:02 PM on November 29, 2016

Microsoft has an RDP client for Android; using a dynamic DNS service and forwarding a port through your firewall, you can use your home PC as though you were sitting at it. I do it myself, it's very handy, I use a very high, random port to further obscure my connection. VNC works as well, not quite as nice IMHO.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:13 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Surprised no one's mentioned TeamViewer! I've used it for years, it's free, and it can do exactly what you want, though I can't deny the simplicity of uTorrent's web UI since that solves your exact need re: torrents.
posted by mrhaydel at 7:35 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you don't need full control, but just want to start specific downloads, the problem is a bit simpler.

You can set the torrent client to automatically start torrents in a specific folder. Then use any file-synchronizing program (e.g., Dropbox) to put torrent files in that folder.
posted by Phssthpok at 8:06 PM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

this may be a bit low level / technical, but on many systems you can configure things so that an email triggers some action. so, for example, i could configure my machine so that email from me with a certain subject line would execute a command on my computer to download a torrent (even taking the torrent URL from the email).

there are security issues with this. if someone else knows the details they may also be able to trigger actions (they can fake email coming from you). they may even be able to execute arbitrary commands.

but anyway, if you do want to do this, here are details for outlook. i don't know anything about the torrent-specific part, though.
posted by andrewcooke at 3:07 AM on November 30, 2016

Yes, there is an Android app for Chrome Remote Desktop. It works quite well.
posted by GuyZero at 10:05 AM on November 30, 2016

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