Sometimes(more like always) you need the power of your desktop PC without the restrictions of the actual desk. You want the portability of your laptop. It’s actually very easy to do and you can set it up in your own home right now. In fact, I am writing this article on my desktop, but using my cheap laptop from my couch. Kind of like a wireless monitor and keyboard for my PC. Everyone wants a wireless monitor and keyboard!
I myself have a BEAST of a gaming computer for my desktop PC.
I do prefer to sit at my actual desk because it makes me more productive but I also like sitting comfortably on my couch and watching TV while I work with the laptop remoted into my desktop. Like now :)
What does this mean?
It means that with this under powered lightweight laptop I can get the full power of my normal tower computer anywhere in my house(or externally from a coffee shop).
Here’s how to do it.
We’re going to use RDP, Microsoft’s built in Remote Desktop Protocol.
First, on the desktop PC that you want to remote into, we will need to set it up to accept remote connections. You will also need an account with a username and password on the Windows machine you’re logging into. If you do not have a user name and password on the Windows installation then you will need to set that up before moving on.
Here we go!
Windows Key + R(Run), type “sysdm.cpl”, hit Enter.
This will get you to the System Properties of your desktop.
Navigate to the Remote tab and select “allow connections only from computers running remote desktop with network level authentication”.
Hit apply, ok and return to your desktop.
You will note there is an option to edit which users have access and you may want to do that. By default your administrator user account will be added to RDP but maybe you have others you want enabled for remote such as guest accounts or your family members.
Easy RDP Setup Summary
Run, sysdm.cpl, Remote tab, Allow
Remoting Into The Desktop From The Laptop
Now that the tower is all setup for remote sessions, let’s do it!
On your laptop that you want to use you will just run Remote Desktop Connection by Microsoft and connect to the computer of your choice.
You will need the desktops computer name from the system properties window(Run sysdm.cpl).
For this scenario we will assume your computer is named desktop and your username is admin.
Remoting Laptop To Desktop
1 ) On the laptop, Win + R(Run), type “mstsc”, Enter.
This is now the Remote Desktop Connection application we’re seeing. What does mstsc stand for? Microsoft Terminal Server Connection.
2) Enter the computer name from the desktops sysdm.cpl and hit connect.
3) Now use your logon credentials. The user name will need your domain or workstation name in front of it. For example desktop\admin or domain\admin instead of just admin username.
And it’s really that easy. I always go full screen. Now your weak little lightweight laptop is running your big powerful full size tower desktop over your wireless network. It’s not actually doing any of the computing, just downloading the live stream of the visual output. Instant satisfaction, power and speed with portability.
Important Remote Desktop Keyboard Shortcuts
Ctrl + Alt + Pause Exit Full Screen and return to the client desktop. HANDY!
Alt + F4 When performed from the desktop background it will bring up the shut down and restart dialog box. This can be handy after updates or for periodic reboots of the remote computer.
You will need to have a wireless router and network setup already in your home to use a laptop from anywhere and remote into your computer.
Not So Obvious Notes
You can not connect to a Windows 7 Starter, Basic, Home or Premium version computer but you can use the RDP Client on it to connect to a Windows 7 Pro, Enterprise or Ultimate version of Windows 7.
Basically to host a connection your desktop must be on Windows Pro, Enterprise or Ultimate but laptop can run the other versions and still connect to the host.
How To Guide Configure Network Level Authentication
It has been reported that some older versions of Windows have a problem with RDP.
Windows 7 or XP SP3 Fix
1) Run, Regedit
2) Find Reg Key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa
3) Right Click Modify “Security Packages”
4) Add to list “tspkg”
5) Find Reg Key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders
6) Right Click Modify “SecurityProviders”
7) Add to list “credssp.dll”
8) Exit and restart and you’re done!