How to Control a Computer’s Screen from Afar

UltraVNC, one of my favorite applications to run on my network, has saved me more times than I can think to imagine.

It works like this: On one system, you run a “server” version of the application. And it just sits there, idling in the background until you make contact. On another system, you run a “viewer” version of the app. Forge a connection between your “viewer” system and your “server” system, and you can immediately see the screen of the server PC as if you were sitting right in front of it. Your mouse becomes its mouse; your keyboard, its keyboard.

Totally free, UltraVNC is one of the most powerful tools you can use for instances where you need to, say, connect up to your work system on a weekend. Or when you’re trying to initiate a remote file transfer between two systems that are separated by a great distance, but don’t have any kind of direct FTP access that could give you the files on your work system’s desktop.

I’ve successfully used UltraVNC across my D-Link home network to access my desktop system in one room from my laptop system in another — perfect for changing music that’s playing without having to get up, or loading up my desktop apps that allow me to stream videos, or messing with friends who hop on my desktop system while I'm in the other room. But that’s not all. I’ve also used UltraVNC (in conjunction with a few other network applications) to remotely dial into my parents’ computer from California to Ohio, where I’ve been able to troubleshoot difficulties they’ve been having. Sure beats a phone call!

UltraVNC is super-easy to use. The program even automatically configures itself to a quality setting that best matches your network connection: Connect two systems on a gigabit network and you really will feel as if you’ve been magically transported to your second system’s desk chair. Connect two systems across a Wireless-G connection and UltraVNC will automatically find a way to deliver you the best streamed desktop picture without killing your overall performance.

That’s UltraVNC in a nutshell: I couldn’t imagine a life without it, and I couldn’t make the best use of it without a killer D-Link network backing me all the way. Stay tuned to future blog posts, and I’ll get into the ins-and-outs of setting up UltraVNC for your own network.

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