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Friday, 20 January 2012

Use Dynamic DNS for Remote Desktop, and Multiple Computers

 
Ever wanted to remote to your computer, but can't because it is behind a router, firewalled, or you can't remember the IP ? This guide will show you how to remote to a compute behind a router, to multiple computers behind a router, and how to assign a host name (ex. mycomputer.site.org) to your computer so you can always connect to it, no matter where it is connected, or what the IP is.


First Configuration in your Computer OS



 
A: Turn on remote desktop connections
  • To do this, enter the control panel, and select 'system'. In the system window, there will be a link labeled 'Remote Settings'. Enter the 'Remote Settings' configuration panel.
  • In the 'Remote Settings' panel, under the 'Remote' tab, make sure that 'Allow Remote Assistance Connections to this Computer' is selected at the top, and 'Allow Connections From Computers Running Any Version of Remote Desktop' is also selected. This will allow you to remote from an XP machine to a Vista machine, and vice-versa.



B : Edit the Remote Desktop Port

*Note*: Editing the registry is potentially dangerous, if you are not familiar with registry editing, this step is not recommended.

  • To allow connections to multiple computers behind a router, each computer will need to have a different Remote Desktop listening port. For example, I have a desktop and an HTPC behind a router that I RD to. My desktop uses the default port 3389 to connect, and my HTPC uses port 3390. If I add a third computer, I would assign it port 3391, and so on.
  • To change the port, we will need to make a registry edit. Open the registry editor, by hitting Windows key-R to open the run window, and type 'regedit' to open the editor.
 

  
  • In the editor, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\System\\CurrentControlSet\\Con trol\\TerminalServer\\WinStations\\RDP-Tcp\\PortNumber and double click on the key.


  • When the key box opens, select 'decimal', and change the default port (3389) to a different port.
  • Close this box, exit out of the editor, and the port will have been changed.

C : For Routers-Configure Port Forwarding
  • To be able to connect to a computer behind a router with a certain port, that port will have to be forwarded to the host machine.
  • Each computer behind the router will need a different port for Remote Desktop, and each different port will need to be forwarded in the Router.
  • Due to the vast number of different routers, I cannot accurately write instructions for all makes and models. For information on how to forward with your router, please visit www.portforward.com

Second : Configure Dynamic DNS Services

A Dynamic DNS service is a Windows service that can be installed to assign a hostname to your computer, and then automatically update an online database to match your current IP address. For example, I have the hostname
bdattilolaptop.homeip.net set up for my laptop. When I take my laptop out and connect to a wireless network, I get assigned an IP, and the DynDNS service will update the hostname registry online with my current IP. Therefore I am able to remote to my machine, no matter where I am.

A : Register for Dynamic DNS
  • To set up a Dynamic DNS service, we will use the free tools provided at www.dyndns.com. Travel to this site, and select 'Create Account' in the upper right hand corner of the site.


  • A DynDNS account only requires an e-mail address, and registering is pretty painless.
 
  • Once you are registered, login and select the 'Services' button at the top of the page. On the services page, select 'Dynamic DNS'
 

  • In the Dynamic DNS page, select 'Get Started' on the upper right hand side of the page.



  • The next page should be titled 'Add New Hostname'. Here is where you get to choose the domain name for your computer. There are many different domains that you can choose from that dyndns has registered (I use homeip.net and dyndys.tv), and there is no difference in any of them. It is just a name. Personally my favorite is 'kick-ass.org', but professionalism's sake, I could not use it!
  • Type in the host name you want, and select 'Host with IP address' under service type. Also click 'Use Auto Detected IP Address xxx.xxx.xxx' to assign your IP now.




  • After all your information has been entered, select 'Create Host'.
  • This should now take you to a list of your Dynamic DNS hostnames. If you want to add more, just click 'Add New Hostname' in the upper right hand corner of the page.
  • Your hostname is now set up! Now lets assign it to your computer.

B: Configure the Dynamic DNS Service
  • Now that we have the hostname setup, we need to associate that hostname with a single machine. We will use the DynDNS updater, which runs as a Windows service to periodically update the IP database associated to your hostname.
  • Download the DynDNS updater by selecting the 'Support' tab at the top of the dyndns.com site, and clicking 'Download Now' on the upper right hand corner of the page.


  • Once the tool has downloaded, install the tool on your system. This will go though the normal Windows install steps.
  • After the updater tool has been installed, launch the updater. Select what kind of connection you have in the config windows, and then enter your DynDNS account name and password when it asks you to.
 

 The updater will then prompt you to enter your host name, and select 'Yes, do automatic download' to allow the updater to download the hostnames registered to your account.



  • Select the hostname that you want to use, and select 'Next'. If at anytime it asks you about a 'Group', just insert a groupname, and remember this name if you are setting up multiple PC's
 

  • Once again, select 'Detect my IP' to assign your address to the host name.

  •  Enable automatic IP updating, and also tell the program to install itself as a Windows service. This will make the updater completely invisible.
 
 

  •  If you do see a green 'check-mark' Icon in the system tray, you can just right-click on it and select 'Exit' to never see it again.

  •  You have now successfully configured the Dynamic DNS service. Restart your computer to start the service.
 Third : Remote to your Computer
  • Now that all the services have been set up, you can remote to your computer.
  • On a different computer, open the 'Remote Desktop Connection' tool, which will be located in Start-Accessories-Communications.
  • In this window, type the hostname that you assigned your computer followed by a colon and the port number you assigned in Part A.
  • If you kept the port as 3389, you will not need to input the port number.

  • If it prompts for credentials, insert the name and password you usually use to login to your machine.
  • You should now be remoted into your computer!
 

  •  If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail, IM, or PM me, and if there are any errors, let me know!

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