Three Ways to Dial In from the Road

If you’re a road warrior, armed with a laptop, you may come to treasure the long list of avenues Windows XP provides for connecting to your home machine (or office machine) from the road. Each of these systems requires a good deal of setup and some scavenging through the technical underbrush, and each offers slightly different features. But when you’re in Tulsa and a spreadsheet you need is on your PC in Tallahassee, you’ll be grateful to have least one of these systems in place.

The remaining pages of this chapter cover all three systems, but here’s a quick summary:

  • Dialing direct. You can dial directly from your laptop to the PC at home, modem to modem, and join your home network. At that point, you can access shared folders exactly as described in this chapter. The downside: Your PC at home has to have its own phone line that only it answers. Otherwise, its modem will answer every incoming phone call, occasionally blasting the ears of hapless human callers.

  • Virtual private networking. Using this system, you don’t have to make a direct phone call from your laptop to your PC at home. Instead, you use the Internet as an intermediary. This way, you avoid long distance charges, and your PC at home doesn’t have to have its own phone line.

  • Remote Desktop. This feature, new in Windows XP, doesn’t just connect your laptop to the network at home. It actually turns your laptop into the PC at home, filling your screen with its screen image. When you touch ...

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