Chapter 14. Dialing In to a Network

For most people, remote access means practically nothing. After all, to most people, "remote" means someplace like Nepal or Antarctica, and "access" doesn't help.

But for anyone who telecommutes from home or travels with a laptop, remote access can be an important concept indeed. It means temporarily connecting to another computer, usually by dialing in. Once you're connected to the network at work (or your desktop computer at home), you can perform a number of useful work-related functions:

  • Use documents. Open, or grab copies of, important documents that you may have left behind, or that have been updated at the office while you've been away.

  • Run programs. You probably won't need to access the network's copy of Word or Excel; they're probably on your laptop already. But many companies have specialized applications, such as databases, that are constantly updated and not easily transferred to other machines. Thanks to remote access, you can run such programs no matter where you are.

  • Check your email. By checking your work email account while you're out of the office, you can stay in touch while traveling. You won't have to spend your first two days back in the office snowed under by accumulated messages.

You can connect to a distant network either directly or indirectly:

  • Dial-up access. Your modem dials the phone number of a remote-access server, a program on the remote network that's designed to accept incoming calls of this kind.

  • Virtual Private ...

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