Tag: Remote Access

How To Securely Access Your Windows Home Computer–pt2

In part one I showed you how to setup Bitvise to allow you to make a secure connection to a computer over SSH. That is a great start but now you need to be able to access that machine from anywhere. You could use the IP address of the computer if it was directly connected to your cable/DSL modem, but the chances are that you have everything sitting behind a router and so there is a little extra configuration that you need to do.


Configuring your router to forward port requests

The process will differ for various routers but the same process needs to be performed whatever the model. You will need to setup port forwarding to the computer on your home network that Bitvise is configured and listening on.

I’m using a Cisco router and that’s what I will use in this example.

  • Firstly, grab the IP address of your computer by running ipconfig. Keep this handy.
  • Now login to your router and look for a setting for port forwarding. On my router that is under Applications & Gaming.
  • Add a new external port on 22 and an internal port 22 and set the IP address to the one you grabbed before
  • Enable the port and save the settings

Below you can see how I have Bitvise on port 22 forwarded to the internal IP


Hint: if you have multiple home machines that you would like to connect to you could setup different external ports that point to port 22 on different internal IP addresses


While you have the router options open go to the status page and note your Internet IP Address. This is the IP that you will use for connecting over the internet (it is possible, for a small cost, to use a dynamic dns service to manage this for you, that’s an optional step I will cover later).


Testing your Bitvise connection over the internet

As in part 1, open up your Bitvise client on another machine. This time use the Internet IP Address you captured earlier as the Host entry.

Your connection should work just as before. If it does not work double check the Internet IP Address and ensure that you enabled the port on your router.


Using Remote Desktop over SSH

Now that everything is setup with Bitvise and you can make a SSH connection over the internet it is time to get Remote Desktop up and running.

Open up Control Panel – System and Security – System – Advanced system settings and set your computer to allow Remote Desktop connections. By default administrators will be allowed access, if you want to grant access to another user just hit the Select Users… button and add them.



By default Remote Desktop will listen on port 3389, unless you are comfortable messing around with this stuff I do not recommend changing it.

Now open up your Bitvise client and go over to the C2S tab to enable Client to Server Port Forwarding. Here you will add a local port for listening and the remote port that you home computer is listening on.

Note: your listening port cannot be 3389 if you already have your client computer setup for Remote Desktop connections

Here I like to use port 13389 for the listener port and we set the destination port to be 3389 for the Remote Desktop on the remote computer side.



Now connect again and once the connection is made open up Remote Desktop and use



Now your connection should be made and you are good to go. Remote access to a home Windows machine from anywhere.


Shortcut – Opening Remote Desktop

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of opening Remote Desktop every time why not let Bitvise take care of that for you? On the Options screen under On Login you can check the box for Open Remote Desktop (and uncheck the ones for Open SFTP and Open Terminal) so that whenever you connect it will start up that Remote Desktop session for you and connect.



Shortcut – Keeping track of your external IP address

Knowing your external (Internet) IP address is one thing, but what happens if your provider goes and changes that IP on you when you are out of town? Well you are out of luck.

If you get concerned that this might happen to you I highly recommend going out to DynDns.org and signing up for their $20 a year DynDNS Pro service. This fantastic service integrates with most routers. You enter your DynDns credentials on the router and it updates the DynDNS service with your current IP address. They provide you with a standard domain name that you can use. That makes life a great deal easier and can be used to set your mind at ease. Even if your router does not support this they also have a client side option that you can load on to the computer which will communicate your external IP back to them. Not bad for $20, and it’s the only thing in this solution that costs you anything.


Quick summary

  • Download and install Bitvise SSH Server on your home computer
    • Add the required users to Bitvise
    • Enable Remote Desktop access
    • Add port forwarding to your router
    • Capture your external IP address
    • Get a DynDNS account so you can connect using a hostname (optional)
  • Download and install Bitvise Client on your laptop
    • Add a C2S entry so a local port gets mapped to a different remote port
    • Enter the host and login
    • Open up Remote Desktop and enjoy a secure working connection to home

There really are just a few simple steps to completing this process. It seems daunting at first but Bitvise really makes things easy.

I suspect that any good SSH client like Putty will allow you to do the self same things the Bitvise client does, I have just not tested that yet.


Give this a try yourself. It will make a good weekend project. Let me know how it works out for you.

I have also created a downloadable PDF document so you can have the information in one place.

How To Securely Access Your Windows Home Computer–pt1

Sometimes you are sitting at the office, or are away on vacation and you need to either get to files on a computer at home, or you need to login to a machine and do some work. There are some great paid options, such as GoToMyPC which will allow you to do this. There are downsides to that kind of solution, they cost money and they usually use Java, which brings with it a whole bunch of security issues.


A free alternative

I was looking around for free alternatives to the commercial products someone recommended trying out a product called Bitvise which would allow me to tunnel a remote desktop session over SSH and login to home completely securely, without needing Java.

Bitvise seemed to have everything I wanted, and it is free for non-commercial personal users. Sounds like a bargain. But does it work? It sure, and here’s how to get it up and running with the minimal amount of fuss.


Install the Bitvise SSH Server

Download WinSSHD server from Bitvise and open up the installer.


Accept the license term, leave the defaults and hit the install button.

Next choose the edition. We’ll be going with personal (which does have limitations, but as this is for personal use we aren’t going to run into those).


The installer will then go about it’s merry way and complete in under a minute leaving you with a message box letting you know that you are good to go.



Configure Bitvise SSH Server

Once the installation has completed you will be presented with the SSH Server control panel. In here you can manage the SSH Server service, work with your host keys and manage your settings.


Hit the Open easy settings link to configure access.

Leave the defaults for the Server Settings. This will allow you to listen on IPv4 & v6 on port 22 and open up a hole in the Windows Firewall for access.


On the Windows account page uncheck the “Allow login to any Windows account” box (this is good for security) and add only the users that you want to give access to.


Hit ok to add the user and then save the changes.

That’s it, you are now ready to go.


Connecting to the Bitvise SSH Server

Now that the SSH Server is setup and configured we need to be able to access it somehow. The simplest way to do this is to download and use the Bitvise SSH Client.

The installation is as straightforward as the SSH Server install, just accept the license and the default settings (do this on a different machine in your house to ensure that it is working as intended)



Then attempt to connect and see if you can get in by entering the IP of your SSH Server and the username.


You will be asked to accept the host key and then to enter your password.


If you entered your information correctly you will be logged in and a terminal session and SFTP session will be launched on the client machine.



This completes your basic connectivity tests from inside your network.


In part two I will go over configuring some basic router settings so that you can access the SSH Server from outside of your home network, and how to utilize these tools to give you remote access on to your Windows machine.