Accessing Your Systems Remotely

     It’s the information age!  That means that you no longer have to be at a particular physical location to get work done.  More and more people are working away from their office while on the road, at home, or wherever.  This technology is also useful for companies with multiple locations that need to link their computer resources together.

     Remote access software and hardware products satisfy these requirements.  File, application, and database servers can reside at your main location while you, with your computer and Internet connection, can be most anywhere.  This article describes various types of products available and what they are best suited for.

     In the old days (i.e. last year), most people would use a product like pcAnywhere to access and take control of a single computer remotely.  Microsoft once again has taken a big chunk out of competitors by building “Remote Desktop” into Windows XP Professional (but not the Home edition).  Windows XP Remote Desktop is a single user solution and works pretty darn well.  There is a product from ThinSoft called WinConnect that can turn Windows XP Remote Desktop into a multi-user environment for several simultaneous connections but the jury is still out on the stability and security of this solution.  Other single user solutions include VNC (free), Laplink2, and Go To My PC.

    One of the best known remote access methods for the corporate arena is Citrix.  Citrix MetaFrame XP Presentation Manager allows you to publish a set of application icons that a person with the Citrix client installed on their pc can locate and run over a wide area network or the Internet.  All processing is done on the Citrix server so only key strokes, screen refreshes, and mouse clicks travel over the connection making it very efficient.  It is a multi-user solution and depending on the applications being run, a moderate dedicated server can handle about 20 concurrent users.  Citrix has another product called Secure Access Manager that incorporates a web development tool and portal capabilities into the base Citrix product.

     Microsoft has a solution called Terminal Services.  Terminal services works much the same way as Citrix and in fact was originally created by Citrix and is required for Citrix to run.  Terminal Services runs on Microsoft Server 2000 and there is a new and improved version that runs on Microsoft Server 2003.  While it has good functionality, it still lacks certain capabilities of Citrix.

     Remote Access Software permits great flexibility in the way you work.   

                                                                     

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