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Before You Connect Windows Remote Desktop
Before configuring your network for Windows Remote Desktop, you need to enable the Remote Desktop in Windows 7 on all machines. This means that for easier access, all the machines should be using Windows 7. If your network computers use different operating systems, you should use Remote Desktop in Windows 7 as the main computer so that you can use it to connect to other computers. In case you need remote access to this computer on the network, other compatible operating systems are Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Ultimate and Vista Enterprise editions. Computers carrying operating systems other than the ones mentioned above may or may not work with Windows Remote Desktop.
Having discussed the compatible operating systems for using Remote Desktop in Windows 7, let us look at the other prerequisite for connecting through Windows Remote Desktop. This prerequisite is having the Windows Remote Desktop feature turned ON among the computers on your network that need to interact via the feature.
To turn on Remote Desktop in Windows XP Professional, right click on My Computer and select Properties. Click on the Remote tab and select Allow Users to Connect Remotely to This Computer.
The process to turn on Remote Desktop in Windows 7 is slightly different. Though you won't be able to troubleshoot a Windows 7 computer using an XP computer, you still need to turn the Remote Desktop ON if you wish to access the XP computer using the Windows 7 computer. Assuming you have turned ON the Remote Desktop in Windows XP (if your network has one), we now proceed to turn on Remote Desktop in Windows 7 and in Windows Vista.
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How to Turn ON Remote Desktop in Windows 7 and in Vista
2. In the window that opens, look for Remote Settings in the left Pane and click on it.
3. You can see plenty of options in the Remote Settings window (see image). The first thing to do is to click and select Allow Remote Connections to This Computer. This will turn ON the Remote Desktop in Windows 7 (or Windows Vista, based on the OS you are using).
4. Under Remote Desktop, select the last option that says Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop. I do not recommend the last option because not all users on the network may have the Admin privileges (see image).
5. If you wish to specify the users who can connect to the computer, click on Select Users and type those user names.
6. Click OK and close the dialog box.
Once you have enabled Remote Desktop on each computer that you wish to access remotely, you are all set for connecting Windows Remote Desktop in Windows 7 in a network.
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Setting up Computers For Using Windows Remote Desktop
The first page of this article on connecting Windows Remote Desktop in 7 in network described how to turn on Remote Desktop in Windows 7 and other operating systems that can be accessed using the feature. Once you have turned on the Remote Desktop feature, you have to make sure that no firewall blocks the Remote Desktop feature. If you are using the Windows default firewall, you can use the Allow a Program or Feature to scroll down and select the Remote Desktop (you can access Windows Firewall settings through Control Panel -> Windows Firewall). If you are using a third party firewall, you need to contact the firewall vendor to find out how to set up an exception for the Remote Desktop in Windows 7.
Finally, you need to setup your router to allow data transfers among the computers in the network. You need to note down the IP address of each computer that you wish to configure for Remote Desktop in Windows 7. To do this, follow these steps:
1. Open a web browser;
2. Type in the router's address in the address bar. Most of the times, the router's address is 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1. If you cannot open the router setup page using either of these IP addresses, call your ISP or check the router manual to obtain the correct IP address for the router.
3. Type in the router's ID and password. In most cases, the ID is admin and password is password. If it says incorrect password, contact your ISP.
4. This step involves some real work. You have to expand all items in the left to search for the option labeled Port Forwarding or Port Mapping.
5. Now that you have the IP address of the router and the IP address of all the computers that you wish to use Remote Desktop on, you need to forward the TCP port to 3389. Please note that 3389 is the default Windows port for Remote Desktop in Windows 7.
6. Obviously, you will want to set up the Port Forwarding to all the computers on your network so that you can use Windows 7 Remote Desktop on each. You can achieve this by assigning incremental port numbers to each computer. The incremental ports are 3390, 3391, 3392, and so on. You need to setup Port Forwarding to each computer in the following format: 242.116.12.33:3390. In short, you are using the IP address followed by a full colon and then the incremental port number.
7. Save the settings and reboot.
You are now done with connecting Windows Remote Desktop in 7 in network. To access the feature, just open the Start menu and type remote in the Search bar. In the dialog box that appears, type in your router's external IP address and hit Enter.
Note: To get the external IP address of your router, you need to search for a program on the Internet that can tell you the external IP address of your router.
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Images from Windows 7
Technet Magazine, http://technet.microsoft.com