Use VNC Software to Control Your Home Computer from the Road
Did you ever need to do something on your home computer from somewhere else? It’s really frustrating.
You can use free, open source software called VNC (Virtual Network Computing) to do just that. VNC software consists of two parts: the Server, which sits on the machine that will be controlled remotely and the Viewer, which another computer uses to control the first machine.
VNC is really easy to use inside of your network (your office or house). With a little bit of tweaking, you can also use it to control another computer through from any internet connected computer in the world.
What You Will Be Doing
You will need to perform the following tasks:
- Get the VNC Server and Viewer Sofware
- Set up the VNC Server on your home computer
- Set up Port Forwarding on your home router
- Obtain your Public or External IP Address
- Connect to your home computer over the internet from another computer
Let’s start out by getting the software that you will need. Download and install the VNC server software on your computer.
Getting the VNC Software
Macs come with a VNC server built into the operating system. Here is how you turn it on.
Open up your System Preferences panel. Finder> Applications> System Preferences.
Click the Sharing icon under the Internet & Network heading.
Check the Remote Management checkbox on the Sharing menu.
Next, you’ll need a VNC Viewer client to control another computer. There are also several VNC Viewer clients (paid and free) for the Mac OS. The one that I currently prefer is Chicken of the VNC. It’s very simple to install and use. That’s it, you’re done.
Isn’t it great when we all just get along? The great news is that the VNC technology is totally cross platform. This means that you can control your home Mac from your work PC. You can connect to your parent’s pc from your Linux machine and fix their broken internets thing and any other crazy combinations that your twisted mind can come up with.
Setting up Port Forwarding on Your Router
This is the tricky part. You need to set up Port Forwarding on your router to allow the Viewer to connect to the VNC Server on your computer. Every router differs on the exact steps that you need to perform to set this up, but PortForward.com has the most extensive list of instructions for setting up port forwarding on any router. Scroll to the bottom of the page and find your router. Follow the instructions and come back here.
Traffic from the internet sees your router as the only compter connected to your external IP address. There can actually many computers behind the router. The port forwarding process take traffic to your router on a specific port and tells it to always to a specific internal IP address. The computer that you want to control remotely will be at the address that you forward the port to.
What you will be doing is telling your router to take all traffic to "ports" 5500, 5800, and 5900 (VNC uses those three) and "forward" it to your computers "private" or "internal" IP Address.
Each router will look slightly different, but if you look at my Belkin router (that I am about to replace) you can see the settings that I just described.
Now that your router knows which Private or Internal IP Address your VNC server is connected to, you will need to know your Public or External IP Address. This is the IP Address that your internet service provider issues to your broadband modem.
Getting your External IP Address
There are a number of complex and simple ways to find your External IP Address. You can just go to WhatIsMyIP.com to find the external address of your computer. Your External IP Address will be displayed at the top of the page.
Other Cool Server Tutorials
These articles have even more with your home server:
Configuring the VNC Viewer to Control Your Computer
Now that you have the VNC Server set up on your computer and Port Forwarding set up on your router, you need to set up the VNC Viewer client. Download and install a VNC Viewer software on the remote computer that you want to use to control your home computer. Wikipedia has a thorough list of VNC Viewer software with feature comparisons that you can use to select one to meet your specific needs. (I use JollysFastVNC on my Mac and TightVNC on my PC.)
Open your VNC Viewer client and start a new Connection.
Enter the External IP Address of your home network.
Enter port 5900 in the Port field and click Connect.
You will be prompted to enter the VNC Server’s password.
Enter the Password the you set up and click OK.
You will be connected to your home computer.
That’s it, now you can do anything you want as if you were sitting at a desk and typing directly into the computer.
Video Tutorial for Remote Control Your Computer From The Internet
See how the process works in the video tutorial below: