How to Log Into a Windows Computer from Off Campus Using Remote Desktop Connection or
A Better Alternative to LogMeIn for CSM Computers

With this method you will be able to access the desktop interface to a computer that is connected to the CSM network. Although browser-based services offer essentially the same functionality and are fine for brief usage, such as checking on the progress of an experiment, I have found these to be too slow and resource intensive for more intensive applications. This technique creates a direct connection through a virtual private network (VPN) from the client to the host computer and overcomes some of these limitations, although it does take some time to set up.

  1. Obtain a Static IP Address

  2. The first step is to obtain a static IP address from CCIT. This ensures that your host computer will never change IP address and prevent access. You can request one at The computer will need to be on a wired connection to the CSM network and you will need to provide a unique server name for the IP address. Once you have obtained an IP address and server name, detailed information about how to configure the network settings for a static IP address for a machine running Windows 7 may be found at

    With the host computer now configured with a known, static IP address and assigned a unique name, you now have the ability to access from any other computer that is also on the CSM network.

  3. Enable Remote Desktop Access

  4. Although there are a number or programs and protocols for remote desktop access, I have found that for logging into a Windows computer, using the Windows Remote Desktop application is quite good (and free!). Unfortunately, it is only an option if the host computer is running Windows Professional or higher, since the Home edition of Windows does not include the Remote Desktop Server. Fortunately, Windows Pro is available to most CSM students via DreamSpark Premium.

    Remote access is disabled by default, so you have to enable it. This can be done from Control Panel > System and Maintenance > System and clicking Remote Settings on the left. Select the box that allows remote connections and add users if need be. Administrator accounts are automatically allowed. Also, it is wise to go to your power settings and set the computer to never sleep or hibernate, since you cannot connect to a sleeping computer.

  5. Remote Desktop Connection

  6. Once the host computer is set up as described above, you can connect from any version of Windows or Mac, using the application Remote Desktop Connection. It is included with all versions of Windows, and is also available for Mac as a free download at It also ships with Microsoft Office for Mac 2011. There are many settings in both the Windows and Mac version to optimize your experience based on connection speed, monitor resolution, etc. Use trial and error to find the best for your usage.

  7. Connecting from Off-Campus

  8. The CSM network is a secure network, so in order to access the host computer from off-campus, you will need to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which you can read about at You will need to use the Network Connect applet to establish a full tunnel between your computer and the CSM network. Once this connection is established, you will have the same access as you would if the computer was physically connected to the CSM network.

    That's it! I hope you found this tutorial useful and it leads to a more productive user experience, wherever you may be physically located.