Away From Home: Control Your Computer Anywhere

In 1940, Bell Telephone Laboratories researcher George Stibitz demonstrated the Complex Number Calculator at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. The calculator, however, was in New York City. According to the Computer History Museum website, “Stibitz stunned the group” by remotely operating the calculator via telephone lines. Today, remotely accessing your devices isn’t nearly so novel. With the built-in Remote Assistance application on your Windows machine, you can control who can access your computer and for how long.

Man relaxing with laptop computer in field
As long as you can get an Internet connection, you can connect to your home computer.
credit: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Remote Assistance Host

Step

Create an invitation from the host -- the computer you want to control remotely. Click “Start” and “Control Panel.” Type “Remote Settings” in the search bar and press “Enter.” Click “Allow Remote Access to Your Computer.” Ensure that there is a check in the box, and then click “Advanced.”

Step

Choose the length of time for the invitation to stay open, up to 30 days. Click “OK,” and then click “OK” again.

Step

Click “Start” and type “Remote Assistance,” and then press “Enter.”

Step

Click “Invite Someone You Trust to Help You.” Save the invitation as a file and attach it to an email if you use a Web-based client, or use Outlook to automatically attach it.

Step

Email the invitation to an account that you can access from your remote location. The attachment automates the connection process; if you don’t receive the email, you can't control the host computer.

Step

Change your host computer's hibernation and sleep settings, if applicable, via the Control Panel, in Hardware and Sound, under Power Options. If the host computer is hibernating or sleeping when the Remote Assistance request comes from the remote computer, you won’t be able to connect.

Remote Assistance Connection

Step

Launch your email program or website on the remote computer. Open the email you sent to yourself and the attachment with the invitation. Windows then will automatically launch its Remote Desktop Connection software.

Step

Connect to the host computer and perform your desired tasks. Enter your administrator password to allow changes to your system and to gain access through your computer’s firewall, if needed.

Step

Close the connection only when you've completed all desired tasks, as you won’t be able to reconnect without a new invitation from the host computer. Reconnect using the same process if you accidentally lose the connection on your end; if the connection is lost on the host end, you can't re-establish it.