Remote access to an XP box
August 31, 2006 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I will be leaving an XP laptop at my friend's house to seed some torrents with Azureus on a fast (10mbps up/down) connection. How do I get access to the laptop from my home computer (so that I might add/delete torrents or tweak settings)? Having remote access to his router might be nice too so that I can open ports if something comes up...

He has agreed to this, on the condition that he does not ever have to touch my laptop or his router after the inital setup. He has a dynamic IP, which changes only about once per month. He has a basic old Linksys router that does some basic port forwarding, but nothing too complex.

What else do I need to know to get this working?
posted by |n$eCur3 to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should add that I am also behind a router.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 5:23 PM on August 31, 2006

XP's remote desktop should accomplish this, the ports will have to be forwarded to the laptop on his router, but after the setup you shouldnt need to mess with it.

He could also sign up for something like a hopto url because of the changing IP
posted by utsutsu at 5:27 PM on August 31, 2006

Not sure what happened there, but imagine that in the above post remote desktop looks like it does here.
posted by utsutsu at 5:28 PM on August 31, 2006

GoToMyPC offers something that would work for this. It should allow you to configure the router, if his router can be accessed through html. they charge a monthly fee, but you can just cancel it after the first month. I used them for a few months and it worked very well.
posted by Joh at 5:34 PM on August 31, 2006

Response by poster: Also, how safe is this, relatively speaking. Am I putting my friend at risk? Are there known security holes with remote desktop?
posted by |n$eCur3 at 5:43 PM on August 31, 2006

Ive used for this before. However their free sevice tended to be a bit hit and miss. They do have a premium service though. Im just a cheapskate.
posted by gergtreble at 5:47 PM on August 31, 2006

A NoIP/TightVNC is the best solution, IMO.

1) Install TightVNC on the laptop, and set the VNC server to start on boot. Be sure to set the router to forward port 5800 to your laptop.

2) Set up a free account with No-IP. Choose a name you can remember, like Download their IP updater and leave it running on the laptop. It polls every 30 minutes or so and updates the DNS entry so that even if his IP changes, things will get updated and will still point to your laptop.

3) Now, you can connect to your laptop using any web browser (as long as java is installed on the system). Just point your browser to and enter your password.

I've set several computers (including my grandmother's) up like this, so that I can access them easily to do maintenance, even when I'm 1000 miles away.
posted by chrisamiller at 5:47 PM on August 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

Forgot to mention - also set the NO-IP updater to run on startup. That way, even if your friend's power goes out, he'll just have to turn the laptop on and you'll be good to go again.
posted by chrisamiller at 5:57 PM on August 31, 2006

BTW Azureus has a web interface plugin built on Swing. You can't configure settings but you can add, delete, check progress of torrents. When I used to use Azureus, I'd check the progress of torrents during the day and add more files as the queue emptied.
posted by junesix at 6:17 PM on August 31, 2006

I've used both logmein and the dynamic IP / VNC solution. Logmein is much simpler but if you plan on controlling the laptop from work, Logmein may get blocked. I think VNC (at least the flavor I use - UltraVNC) needs to use 2 ports for the web browser interface. I use port 80 (http) and port 443 (http over SSL). Not likely that your work would block those two ports.

(and I haven't had the problems with Logmein that gergtreble mentioned)
posted by sublivious at 7:41 PM on August 31, 2006

For my money: Remote Desktop, or VNC as you please, running over Hamachi. No port forwarding required, and as long as nobody but you knows the Hamachi password, secure.
posted by flabdablet at 8:42 PM on August 31, 2006

sublivious, only problems 've had where dropped connections and failures to connect. It ususaly reconected first time, but was a total pain in the ass when it did it. Im pretty sure their pay sevice would not do this though.
posted by gergtreble at 9:54 PM on August 31, 2006

I like LogMeIn better than Go2MyPc - it's free and you don't have to worry about dynamic dns or etc.

I use it almost every day and have never had any problems.
posted by muddylemon at 10:00 PM on August 31, 2006

I'll put another vote down for Hamachi and Remote Desktop, when I had my server running, that's how I would log into it.
posted by gregschoen at 10:07 PM on August 31, 2006

Careful, you can't Remote Desktop into XP Home edition.
posted by teki at 9:00 AM on September 1, 2006

Response by poster: For the sake of posterity, the following is what I currently have working, and what I did to accompish it:

Server Computer (laptop):
Installed 4 programs
1. TightVNC server
2. No-IP DUC
3. Hamachi
4. utorrent (decided to go with a lighter torrent client)
Each of these programs is free, although to use No-IP it was required to sign up for an account (ie time to use a fake address and phone number). I named my account mylaptop and was given the name Each of these 4 programs can be set to run at startup so that if the power goes out and my laptop battery runs out, I only have to bug my friend to push the on button.

Client Computer (home computer):
Installed 1 program
1. Hamachi

Make sure it can assign static IPs and forward ports.
Set up a static IP for my laptop, ie,
Forward port 5800 to
Forward the torrent port to the laptop (optional).

To connect:
So, if I want to control the laptop mouse movements remotely and see the monitor, I load up my browser and type, Also, if you want, you may install the tightvnc client, but the browser applet works just fine for me.

If I want to transfer files to the laptop, I open up hamachi and right click > browse and copy things over.

Thanks for all of your help! If I'm leaving anything out, feel free to ask, or email's in the profile.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 2:00 AM on September 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

I don't understand why the laptop needs a address or why you need to forward a port on its router. Seems to me you should be able to do the remote control stuff over Hamachi as well, just by connecting your local PC to the same Hamachi VPN as the laptop and browsing to http://5.x.x.x:5800.
posted by flabdablet at 4:54 PM on September 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

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