How to Install and Configure TightVNC
TightVNC is one of the better free VNC apps. Among the features is the ability to hide the icon in the notification area making it hard for employees to know when the boss is peeking in. In this article I'll show you how to install TightVNC, hide the icon, and prevent the wallpaper from disappearing from the users desktop when you remote in. Basically you'll be able to remote in without the user knowing you're logged in. Of course you can only do this on machines which you own and you must tell your employees that this software is installed and that you'll be checking in from time to time.
Before setting up any remote desktop or VNC app you should first assign a static IP to the machines you'll be remoting into. If you arent sure how to set a static IP then see my article, "How to Remote Into a PC Through a Wireless Access Point."
After you have a static address then write it down. Visit TightVNC.com and download the version for your OS. With these steps done were ready to begin the install. For this tutorial I'm using TightVNC version 2.5.1 and installing onto Win7 64bit.
- Begin on the machine you want to remote into. After double-clicking the installer you'll see a screen with three install options: Typical, Custom, and Complete. Click Complete.
2) The next screen has several options regarding file associations, server options, and firewall exceptions. Make sure all boxes are checked and click next.
3) This screen is where you'll put in the passwords to authenticate your remote session. The second set of boxes is supposed to secure changes to the options later.
4) After you set the password, click ok. Then Finish. At this point the VNC server is installed on the pc. The VNC server service is already started and set to start automatically when the machine boots. There is now an icon for TightVNC in the notification area that will alert the user by changing colors whenever someone remotes in. The default settings also hide the wallpaper and presents the user with a black background when someone logs in. There is also a folder in the All Programs list that would tell the user that there is a VNC app installed. The next task is to resolve these issues.
5) Go to Start, then to All Programs, then to the TightVNC folder. Look for the item named "TightVNC Server (Service Mode)" and finally "TightVNC Service Offline Configuration". On the window that opens, uncheck the Hide desktop wallpaper, and Show icon in the notifications area checkboxes.
6) Click OK and you'll see a pop-up that states that the changes won't take effect until the VNC service is restarted. Click OK. If you don't know how to restart the service then don't worry. Just reboot the machine. Then go to the machine you'll be remoting from and we'll install TightVNC there.
Installing the VNC Viewer
7) The steps are nearly the same for this machine except at the screen that says Typical, Custom, and Complete. Select Custom
8) Highlight the TightVNC Viewer only.
The rest of the process is the same as installing the server. Make sure all of the check boxes are checked on the file association and options page. And enter the passwords you want to use. These passwords will be used if you choose to allow other to reverse connect to you and are supposed to protect access to the configuration settings.
9) Then click OK and then Finish.
Testing the Connection
10) It's now time to test our configuration. Open up the TightVNC Viewer on your desktop. In the Remote Host box put the static IP you assigned to the remote machine. Then click Connect.
11) If all has gone well you should be asked for the password you set on the remote machine.
12) Success!!! You should then see the desktop of the remote machine.
13) So now that the test is successful you need to go back to the remote machine. Go to Start, then All Programs, and delete the TightVNC program group. Do this only after testing the program and making absolutely certain that it is set up the way you need it. After deleting this from the All Programs location you will not be able to easily get back and reconfigure this app. Re-install repair is about the only way to get the config gui back. The reason for deleting this program group is to prevent your employees from changing any of the settings. Of course these settings should be password protected but I was not asked to authenticate while making any changes for this tutorial.This is because I was using Win7. On XP and Vista you will be able to apply a password. If you plan on exploring TightVNCs features the don't delete this from the Start menu.
14) Finally, there are still some things not hidden. A user looking into the Program Files folder will be able to see TightVNC there. Also there is the VNC server service which is running and its process can be seen in the task manager. Other than that the user will not notice anything unusual. It is important to inform the users of these machines that you have the ability to see what they are doing remotely and at random times of your choosing.
Access Through the Internet
TightVNC is a great app that has lots of functionality not discussed here. If you have enabled access through your home wireless router then you can remote in from the Internet. The ports for this app are TCP 5900 and 5800. Go to your Application and Gaming tab. Click on port forwarding. Add an entry for TightVNC and then the IP address of the remote pc. Make sure to check the enable box. Remember to put your public IP in the remote host box when attempting to connect through the Internet.
A better and more workable way is to setup a VPN connection to your remote pc and then open up TightVNC. See my article "How to Create a VPN Connection" for the details. First you connect to the pc with the VPN. Then you use the local IP address in the remote host box and connect to TightVNC just like you would if you were on the LAN.
All for now.
- Romes IT Guy