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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Using TightVNC

Long time no post. Been busy busy!

Anyways, this seemed like it may be a helpful tip. I spend my days in office (like most of us) and often have tasks that I'd like my computer at home to be working on while I'm gone. For example, I have large backup files on my web server that I like to download down to my computer at home for safe-keeping. Or sometimes I just want to check email or do other non-work stuff that's easier (and safer) to do at home.

This is where tightvnc comes in. It's a free, open-source program that sets up an encrypted connection to another computer, and allows you to see and use that computer as if you were sitting there. You install the server program on the computer you want to monitor, and then use the client program to connect to it over the internet. You'll generally have to do route some ports in your router so that you can connect to the computer, but that's pretty straightforward.

This is especially nice for checking email. One thing many people don't know is that using a program like outlook to check your email will often involve sending your username and password "in the clear" - which isn't a big deal if you're sitting at home. But if you're on your laptop at a coffee joint, that could be a big problem. It's possible, and not difficult for someone to pull this info from the wireless network in such a situation. But if you're connecting over a secure, encrypted connection to your machine at home, there's no need to worry!

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