Streaming recorded TV to your hotel room. Grabbing files off your home computer from work. Checking on the dog walker. Your computer can do amazing things while you're nowhere near it, and these 10 killer remote access apps help you do them.
Photo by Xjs-Khaos.
10. DJ Your iTunes Playlists From Any Room
The Remote app for iPhones and iPod touch is a convenience in letting you control a single computer's iTunes output from anywhere within range of the same Wi-Fi network. Throw in an AirPort Express and some other gear, and Remote can become a multi-room wireless remote for as many iTunes setups as you've got going during your ultimate birthday party.
9. Install Wake-on-LAN for Remote Power-Ups
The coolest remote streaming apps in the world won't do a thing if all your computers at home are powered off. Set them up to wake up whenever you ping them from afar by configuring them with Wake-on-LAN. Sometimes written as WOL in geek circles, Wake-on-LAN's weakness in this modern age is that it requires a wired Ethernet connection, so your wireless laptop won't be able to wake up. Your media centre PC or desktop, though, will be glad to hear from you.
8. Be At Home Anywhere with OpenVPN
Getting at shared folders, accessing sites restricted by corporate firewalls, and hooking into your iTunes library as if you were on the same network. VPN connections can make such convenience happen, and OpenVPN is the free, open-source way to get there. It works as a server running on a computer you keep going all the time, and it's also integrated into the Tomato and DD-WRT firmware that we've used to upgrade our routers into home network superstars. (Original post)
7. Watch Recorded TV with Remote Potato
Once you get Remote Potato set up, you'll get nearly full access to your Windows 7 Media Center anywhere you have a browser up and running. Through a Silverlight plug-in, you can watch shows you've recorded, set up new recordings, and otherwise fine-tune your fairly awesome setup. (Original post)
6. Control Torrent Downloading Remotely
When you're not home, or away from home, you can still make use of that broadband connection just sitting dark around your house. We've gone in-depth on uTorrent and its great remote web interface, but other torrent clients, like Transmission, can just as easily let you add, throttle, start and pause, and cancel your torrents. Whether you've just thought of something to watch when you get home, or your spouse can't figure out why their web access is glacial, it can be quite a helpful feature.
5. Give Remote Tech Support with CrossLoop
What if the computer you're trying to fix, or grab a file from, isn't your own, and so isn't set up with all kinds of neat VNC servers and remote desktop access? That's where CrossLoop comes in. The free PC and Mac application pares down the remote control protocols to simply require the person giving up control to provide the controller with a small authorisation code, and from there, it's like magic net juice. You're connected, you can grab files and click on things, and you're good until the other party decides to disconnect. It's one of the best ways to give tech support, and receive it, too.
4. Keep an Eye On What's Happening at Home
Unless your dogs perform amazing tricks when you're not around, this away-from-home setup isn't quite as fun, but it can elicit some ooh-neat responses. Setting up a motion-sensing, remotely monitored webcam, like Vitamin D, Motion Detection, or HighlightCam, lets you see what's happening in your home when you're not there, and maybe even keep tabs on the paid dog walker. (Original posts: Vitamin D, HighlightCam, Motion Detection)
3. Stream Media Anywhere with Orb
What Orb does isn't new or entirely novel, but Orb does make streaming your media very easy. Whether between PC and Mac computers, from computers to a Wii, or to an iPhone app, Orb is the pain-free way to ensure that if you've invested in ripping CDs and DVDs, or downloading good stuff from the web to your main computer, it's always available to wherever else you happen to have a screen in front of you.
2. Do Everything Else with a Home Server
Whether you're creating a dedicated Windows Home Server, modifying a desktop to be a personal web server, or getting a bit more geeky with reader favourite Ubuntu Server Edition, having a server at home, and opening it beyond your home network, can be really useful.
1. Use Your Home Computer Through LogMeIn
It's available for free on Mac and PC, it's a reader favourite, it makes setting up a remote VNC connection between systems fairly simple, and it has many uses. It's good at remote tech support, running boring maintenance while you're away, and you can go beyond the free offerings by augmenting it with other free apps. With a strong enough connection, you can theoretically do anything on your computer from a distance with LogMeIn, and that's a great thing.
What apps do you use to connect back home when you're away? How do you get at your home media when you've got downtime? Tell us about your tips and tools in the comments.