Configuring your Windows PC for Remote Access

Screens Connect

It is strongly recommended that you install Screens Connect on your Windows PC. Not only will it make your computer accessible from outside your local network, the installer also includes a virtual network computing (VNC) server (TightVNC) and a secure shell (SSH) server (freeSSHd). These provide the network services Screens uses to establish a connection with the computer. If you wish to use a secure connection (optional, but recommended in many environments), a SSH server is required.

Using Apple's Bonjour protocol, Screens Connect broadcasts the VNC service over the local network, allowing Screens to detect your computer when it’s available.

Screens Connect installation instructions can be found here.

In this example, we will configure “Bill's PC” — running Windows and Screens Connect — for remote access.

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Installing a VNC Server

If you choose not to, or are unable to, install Screens Connect on your PC, you must install a VNC server. We recommend TightVNC or UltraVNC, but any VNC server should work just as well.

Once a VNC server has been installed, you'll need to gather some information.

  • The IP address. Move your mouse cursor over the VNC server icon in the taskbar and wait for the popup to display the IP address.

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  • The VNC port. Double-click the VNC server icon in the Windows task bar to open the server settings. By default, the port number should be 5900, but it's possible to have this set to another value. We recommend that port 5900 is used.

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These steps are required because the VNC server running on Windows will not broadcast its availability on the local network. Because this prevents Screens from automatically detecting your PC, you must create a custom connection for the PC in Screens.

Firewall

If the Windows Firewall is running -- or any other software firewall, for that matter -- make sure that Screens Connect (if installed) and the VNC server are allowed to receive incoming connections.

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Optional: Installing a SSH Server for Secure Connections

By default, Windows does not provide a service to create a SSH tunnel, so you must install a 3rd-party app to add this functionality to your PC. We recommend using freeSSHd, which is free.

FreeSSHd Installation and Configuration

  • Follow the developer’s installation instructions.
  • When asked to create private keys, click Yes.

  • When asked whether freeSSHd should run as a service, click Yes.

  • In the Windows task bar, double-click the VNC icon to display the settings window.

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  • Select the User tab.
  • Click the Add button.

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  • A User Properties window appears.

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  • Enter a username.

  • Set the Authorization to Password stored as SHA1 hash.

  • Enter a secure password.

  • Enable only the tunneling option.

  • Click OK.

  • Select the SSH tab.

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Note: By default, the SSH port will be set to 22, but it's possible that another app installed on your PC is already using that port. If so, you may change the port to something else, like port 222 in our example.

  • Select the Tunneling tab.
  • Enable Allow local port following.
  • Click OK.

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  • If an error occurs when connecting through a SSH tunnel with freeSSHd, open the VNC server settings on the Windows PC you’re trying to connect to and enable Allow loopback connections.

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Firewall

If the Windows Firewall -- or any other software firewall -- is running, make sure that freeSSHd is allowed to receive incoming connections.

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