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Computer networking

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by drewmo, Oct 18, 2008.

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  1. drewmo

    drewmo Feeling the Heat

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    Can anyone help by answering a few computer networking questions? My wife and I will be running a small hotel in the near future. The reception is on the ground floor. There are two computers - one is at the desk and runs a non-MS hotel reservation/billing software. The other is in the office and is primarily used to check online reservations, answer emails (currently using Outlook), and other general applications (such as Word). A small annoyance is that any online or email reservations that come in on the back computer need to be checked against the front computer running the reservation software. We could put the reservation software on the back computer, but it would be much more difficult checking in clients. Likewise, if we used the front computer for all other applications (email, internet), we would be sitting behind the reception desk in full view of the clients as then enter and exit the building. The set up as is may not be ideal, but it works.

    Now, on to the bigger problem. Our living area will be on the first floor of the hotel. When the phone rings and someone is looking to make or confirm a reservation, we have to run down a flight of stairs to check the front computer. Great exercise considering the phone rings a lot. However, not much fun, considering we have a 9 month old that we would hate to abandon in a rush. Some phone calls can also take an extraordinary amount of time.

    So, is it possible to network a third computer on the first floor with the other two computers on the ground floor? The computer geniuses here in France have quoted thousands of euro to make it happen. I believe there must be a cheaper, if not free, solution out there. We have wireless internet throughout the building and we have looked into remote access through www.logmein.com. We have yet to give this remote access a full test, but what we've seen is a bit of a lag time and the uncertainty of keeping all the computers connected through the internet at the same time.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  2. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    If all of your computers are using Windows 2000, XP or Vista for an operating system the answer is Yes. There is a program called Remote Desktop built into those operating systems that allow you to remotely control a PC from anywhere in the world.

    There are a couple of things you need to know. First if all three PCs are using the same network then it's very straight forward. You have to make sure each PC has a user account that logs in with a password, you need to enable the remote desktop option. This is done by Right clicking on the My Computer icon and selecting properties and then clicking on the Remote tab and putting a check mark in the remote desktop option.

    Then you need to know the computer name. Again Right click on the My Computer icon and select the Computer Name tab and look for the Full Computer Name (not the description).

    The easiest way to launch the remote desktop program is to Click on the Start button and select Run then type MSTSC and press enter.

    In the next window type the name of the computer you want to connect to and login to the PC.

    If the upstairs PC is using a different Internet connection then you have to modify the router that serves the downstairs PC to allow RDP traffic and you do that by allowing traffic on port 3389 through the router and point it to one of the PC.

    You also will need to know the External IP address of the router. You can get this from one of the pages on your router or by going to whatismyip.com from one of the downstairs PCs

    Then follow the instructions above except instead of typing a computer name you type in the external IP address of the router and it will then log you onto the PC you forwarded the RDP traffic too.. The tricky part is if you want to access the PC that the RDP traffic is NOT being routed to you have to run a Remote Desktop session from the PC you logged into to the other PC.
  3. pelletfan

    pelletfan Member

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    You could run your third computer with something called remote desktop as previously mentioned. It's one of easiest solutions. Not complicated to set up and probably the cheapest solution.
    But here another question.
    Does your hotel reservation/billing software allow multiusers or is it only set up for a single user.
  4. drewmo

    drewmo Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for the detailed response. I'll give it a try. However, I was told that only Windows XP Pro has the ability to be a host computer with remote desktop. Do you know if this is the case? None of our computers are running XP Pro.

    I believe the software is limited to one user, which could generate a conflict if one of us was on the computer, while the other was working it remotely. However, this is very unlikely to happen.

    Aside from Windows and the site I mentioned earlier, are there other remote desktop applications out there that anyone has any experience with?
  5. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    I misspoke when I said Windows 2000 has remote desktop and XP home only offers Remote Assistance. However, there are two other applications that can work on other operating systems. They are Gencontrol and VNC and they are both free.. If you Google them you will find download sites for them. VNC is a little more complicated to set up, but if you're running a Microsoft operating system older than Window 2000 it may be the only thing that will work.
  6. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    What kind of software do you need to run? Are the programs that do the scheduling etc. Windows-based? Or can you use any program that works?

    If you are not tied to a Windows-based program to run the business, you could consider running a linux-based operation, which networks very easily, and is free. You could set up one of your machines as a server, which would also allow easy back-ups of all data (which BTW you should do regularly no matter what you set up).

    Most people only know about Windows, which is unfortunate. If you want to know more, drop me a line. Good luck.
  7. tkirk22

    tkirk22 New Member

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    I currently use UltraVNC and have used TightVNC in the past. Either will give you an exact copy of the other computer's screen. UltraVNC has a few more features and the ability to use encryption but I have not tried it myself.
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I agree, should be doable with minimal hassles or expense, but I would look more at trying to go with a Linux based solution than one based on Microsoft products...

    Also keep your computer security needs in mind, if you are providing wireless access to your guests, make sure that they can't also access your business systems...

    Gooserider
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