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How To Use Hamachi to Remotely Control any Windows Computer


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What is this about? Well imagine not just accessing but securely controlling your home computer from anywhere in the world even if the computers are protected behind NAT routers. Or if you need to help a friend or family member with computer problems from far away, forget trying to explain everything over the phone, just take over their computer and fix it yourself. They can see everything you do and learn. You can do all this with out paying for extra software.

The title is a little deceiving. It takes more than just the free program Hamachi to do this on any computer other than Win XP Pro. You also need Microsoft Netmeeting which is included in XP Home, Win 2000, and probably earlier Windows operating systems (if not you can download and install it for free).

I'll talk about some more things you can do after setting this up at the end of the article. Let's get to it.

Steps:

1. Install Hamachi

Ok, you can use Hamachi to make the secure connection between the two computers. Hamachi helps to secure the connection and make the connection possible when one or both of the computers is behind a firewall.

You can find a link to Hamachi on my Downloads page (along with other great programs) or just go to Hamachi's Download Page. Hamachi's latest version is a beta version, which means it is still in testing, but it works flawlessly for me.

You need to install Hamachi on both computers. Let's call the first computer Computer 1, and the second Computer 2. When you install it, it will start a tutorial to teach you how to use Hamachi. Follow the tutorial that describes how to set up a Hamachi Network. When you install Hamachi on Computer 2, you'll need to join the Hamachi Network that you set up on Computer 1. As you install it on each computer you'll see a number at the top of the Hamachi window like 5.000.000.000. That is the Hamachi IP address. You'll need these numbers later.

Congratulations, you've completed the first major step. Although we're not done yet, you can already do a lot with your Hamachi Network connection. You can securely access the shared folders on Computer 2 from Computer 1. You can also securely chat with a user on the other computer. But our goal is to take over the other computer so continue to the next step.

2. Install Netmeeting

Installing Netmeeting is easy on Windows XP Home and Windows 2000 (you may have to download it from Microsoft for earlier versions of the Windows operating system). Just click the start button in the lower left corner. Select "Run." Type "conf.exe" in the dialogue box (that's the white box in the Run window, and you don't need to include the "") and Windows Netmeeting will start. The first time you run it, it will run a setup wizard to configure the software for the computer. You can setup speakers, microphones, and video cameras (Netmeeting was designed as a conferencing tool) but this is not necessary for our task. Install Netmeeting on both Computer 1 and Computer 2

3. Setup Netmeeting Remote Desktop Sharing

In Netmeeting, click the "Tools" menu at the top. Then select "Remote Desktop Sharing." This opens the setup wizard for Remote Desktop Sharing. One of the options in the wizard allows you to use activate a password protected screensaver if your remote connection is interupted. I recommend doing this, otherwise someone else could use the distant computer whether you like it or not if your connection is interrupted.

After setting up the Remote Desktop Sharing, you should see a new icon in the system tray in the lower right corner of your screen. It will look like a globe with a hand underneath it. The Remote Desktop Sharing only needs to be set up on the computer that you want to control from far away. For example if you want to control your home computer from your laptop while you and your laptop are in some exotic vacation spot, you only need to set up Netmeeting's Remote Desktop Sharing on your home computer.

4. Connect to Netmeeting's Remote Desktop Sharing through Hamachi

Alright, now that you have the software installed and setup, it is time to make the connection and take control. Start Hamachi on both computers if it is not already started (If you plan to do this while traveling, you'll need to leave your home computer on with Hamachi and Netmeeting's Remote Desktop Sharing on while you're gone. If you're helping a friend with their computer, they'll have to start Hamachi) and connect to the Hamachi Network you created earlier. You should be able to see on Computer 1 that Computer 2 is connected (and vice versa). If you set up Remote Desktop Sharing on Computer 1, type the Hamachi IP address for Computer 1 into the Netmeeting Address bar (at the top of Netmeeting) on Computer 2 and click on the phone button. You'll get a "Remote Desktop Sharing Password" window. You'll need an account name and password for the computer you're taking over (you don't need a Domain name). Enter those and click OK. You'll get a window that shows the desktop of Computer 1.

The view will not look perfect because Netmeeting will show the other computer's desktop in fewer colors so not as much data needs to be sent across. This makes the connection faster. Even though it may not look as colorful, you can just click on anything in that window and you are doing it on the other computer. You now have control (total control if you logged into an administrator account). On that Desktop window that popped up you can click the "View" menu and select "Full Screen" to see their entire desktop. When you're done, just close the window and close Netmeeting and Hamachi.

The Remote Desktop Sharing can be done with out Hamachi but it is much more difficult (routers and firewalls will need more configuring) and not nearly as secure because you won't have the encryption included in the Hamachi connection protecting your data.

5. Handling Firewalls

If you are running a software firewall, it may get in the way of this connection. However you can setup your firewall to allow this connection. For example in ZoneAlarm, while Hamachi is running, go to the Firewall tab on the left and the Zones tab on the top and you will see "Hamachi Network Interface." You should make this a trusted Zone.

If your firewall pops up windows asking you if you want to allow Hamachi or Netmeeting to connect out to the internet you need to allow the programs to connect out.

Other Ideas

With this kind of connection you can run programs on the other computer. You can access all the files whether they are in shared folders or not. You can play your music or video files. Or you can securely browse the internet from your laptop through your home computer at wireless Hotspots thanks to the encrypted Hamachi connection. There are lots of ways you can use such a secure connection without paying the high price for Windows XP Pro.

This is a fairly advanced task but if you have any difficulty, you're welcome to email me with questions but please make sure your email subject line doesn't look like spam or it will probably get deleted. Also email me if you have suggestions on how I can make this or any part of my site better. Thanks.



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jim@gatorgrad.com

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