WXforum.net

Weather Station Hardware => Remote Weather Monitoring => Topic started by: xykotik on June 23, 2011, 07:48:28 AM

Title: Remote PC access
Post by: xykotik on June 23, 2011, 07:48:28 AM
For discussion... 

I am often away from home and initially wanted a 'net connected PWS to access from the road.  Inevitably, something stops working while I am away.  Other than looking at your data or website, what are your personal experiences/recommendations for remotely accessing your dedicated wx-server over the 'net?  Do you also manage webcams over that server?  How about as a gateway to other devices (DVR, NAS) on your home network from the 'net?  Preference for Linux or Windows?  Web-host from that PC?  Do you use a fixed IP with a business-plan ISP or ddns?  Do you use a smartphone or pda to manage your server hardware remotely?  Have you tried multiple software/service solutions?  Here are a few examples to prime the discussion...

DynDNS.org
xampp (windows)
apache (linux)
java
Windows Remote Desktop Connection
VNC (free or paid)
LogMeIn (free or paid)
GoToMyPC

Also related, what is your restart plan after the UPS runs dry and you are not around?  Do you have to log in as a passworded user in order for your wx-sw to start and remote access to work?

Based on your remote-access experience and computer skill-level, what would you recommend to either a newbie to networking, or also to an experienced geek as a solution to the remote access question?
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: mackbig on June 23, 2011, 07:55:34 AM
I can manage my security dvr remotely.  Using dyndns, but my ISP rarely changes my IP even though I am not on a static IP plan.

I did try setting up remote desktop between my laptop and weather pc within my "intranet".  It worked, but had a side effect.  My GR3 stopped working after I disconnected the remote connection.  Since my primary goal was to use RDP to solve GR3 issues I abandoned.   GR3 issues also ceased around the same time, as I discovered a bad web placefile can kill GR3 after several days.

Andrew
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: Bushman on June 23, 2011, 08:20:53 AM
Teamviewer.  Free and excellent.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: up10ad on June 23, 2011, 09:15:38 AM
I'm not quite sure why XAMPP/Apache is in your list, but I can upvote both of them.  I run on an XAMPP system and it is rock solid on Win7. Free is good.

For remote control I make use of several products for my personal and business.  At work we actually still have a decades old version of PC Anywhere that does the job for some servers, but the main remote product we use is LogMeIn.  I use the pay version ($69.95) on my main work computer and most servers and free versions on my home PC, weather PC and several others.  The free version works just fine, I just got the paid at work to be able to have sound, and to feel like I was contributing to the development.  I mainly control things using the LogMeIn Ignition product ($39.95) on my Home PC to connect to work, but also use the web client to control my weather station.  My iPhone and Android tablet both have the mobile Ignition program ($29.99) which is fantastic for controlling any of them on a small screen.  I can't say enough good about LMI.

I also have TeamViewer and it too does a great job.  I primarily use LMI because it was on my systems first and has never failed.  Win Remote Desktop isn't as good for WAN connections but works well on a local net; VNC is nice but not as seamless or easy to administer.

DynDNS isn't needed with LogMeIn but is a great program if you don't have a static IP and need to act like you do.  I have a static so I don't use it.

I web host at home using XAMPP because I prefer Apache, and it runs so well on Win7.  With LogMeIn I can control my cams and anything else that I can access from my weather PC. When connected from Work to Home, even by phone, I can manage my entire home network including all PCs, video server, and home control system. My DSL is a tad slow on the upload so the web isn't screaming, but its fine for visitors.  I have my DSL modem set to bridge mode which allows my Cisco router to perform authentication/login and all the port forwarding and routing.

More info than you probably wanted, but maybe it will be useful to someone, or help with the conversation. 
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: lddaly on June 23, 2011, 10:26:34 AM
I also use LogMeIn, which is very easy to setup and use \:D/. My restart plan has my system automatically restarting with an auto login and StartWatch kicking in to manage all the applications.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: saratogaWX on June 23, 2011, 10:57:15 AM
I use VNC (paid) for remote access to weather station PC from Win7 laptop, iPhone and iPad.  Works great!

Also have DynDNS (free) for the hostname (primarily for the 1sec views for the webcam) that lets me address the VNC connection too.

I'd previously used Hamachi/LogMeIn, but VNC works much better for me.

I just purchased a Dataprobe remotely-accessible power controller to be able to power-cycle the weather PC if needed (and it has needed it a couple of times :( )
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: WeatherHost on June 23, 2011, 11:20:51 AM
Also related, what is your restart plan after the UPS runs dry and you are not around? 

There used to be a hardware product called "Reboot".  It had a switched AC outlet and would connect to your phone line.  You dialed into it, entered a 3 digit passcode and it would cycle the AC outlet, shutting the connected device off, then back on.

I have no idea if it's still available.

Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: Bushman on June 23, 2011, 11:43:14 AM
Also related, what is your restart plan after the UPS runs dry and you are not around? 

There used to be a hardware product called "Reboot".  It had a switched AC outlet and would connect to your phone line.  You dialed into it, entered a 3 digit passcode and it would cycle the AC outlet, shutting the connected device off, then back on.

I have no idea if it's still available.


A buddy of mine uses X10 telephone control and it works just fine.  Cheap.  Mostly reliable.  ;)
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: SLOweather on June 23, 2011, 11:45:11 AM
I use Hamachi as a free VPN and then free VNC. Using Hamachi also gives me shared file access and such to all the computers on the Hamachi network.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: mackbig on June 23, 2011, 11:50:26 AM
But if your UPS is done, and the pc is now completely off, how would this restart your PC?

Honest question.  I went thru this when my UPS died recently and little power flashes would shut off pc.  Even my power supply issue as few years ago, at least the pc would reboot, and all my apps would come back up.

I have a new UPS, but anything longer than a half hour and I am shutdown.

Is there a bios setting that will power up a pc, when it sensing a/c again?

Andrew

edit ps:  I think I answered own question.  Appears many pc's have a bios setting for this.  I guess my old pc was on, or became switched to "stay off".  I will have to check new one.  My work pc seems to have "stay off" "last state" and "Power On"

Also I quoted the wrong poster, since weatherhost did not quote, as he italcized the previous statement. Oh well.

Also related, what is your restart plan after the UPS runs dry and you are not around?  

There used to be a hardware product called "Reboot".  It had a switched AC outlet and would connect to your phone line.  You dialed into it, entered a 3 digit passcode and it would cycle the AC outlet, shutting the connected device off, then back on.

I have no idea if it's still available.


Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: utahweatherbear on June 23, 2011, 11:58:39 AM
I swear by logmein to get to my PC from work to reboot machine, or restart cams and/or wx station software.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: DaculaWeather on June 23, 2011, 12:54:28 PM
 I use Tight VNC for my remote access, the free version. I also use DYNDNS.org for my DNS for my IP webcam.

I use to have one of those boxes that you plug up to your phone line and restart things with. It worked great, wish I still had it.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: gadget_guy on June 23, 2011, 12:59:12 PM
I use LogMeIN.  It is rock solid.  They even have an app for the Droid that gives me access to the Windows desktop right on the phone.  I can do everything from the phone that I can do from a regular PC except transfer files.  Highly recommended.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: Dr Obbins on June 23, 2011, 01:18:34 PM
Another LogMeIn user here.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: SlowModem on June 23, 2011, 02:54:22 PM
I have used logmein and it worked very well.  However, using dialup internet, it took around 30 minutes to do a reboot of the computer.  So it was kind of impractical for me.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: ed2kayak on June 23, 2011, 07:10:12 PM

I just purchased a Dataprobe remotely-accessible power controller to be able to power-cycle the weather PC if needed (and it has needed it a couple of times :( )

That looks promising. I wouldn't have to call/txt/im my SO, kids, neighbor, or dog to reboot  pc. :-)
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: Bushman on June 23, 2011, 07:55:07 PM
Here's a similar, but much cheaper option:  http://www.digital-loggers.com/lpc.html?gclid=CJXio9yczakCFQEKKgod0DCuLg
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: DaculaWeather on June 24, 2011, 12:50:26 AM
Here's a similar, but much cheaper option:  http://www.digital-loggers.com/lpc.html?gclid=CJXio9yczakCFQEKKgod0DCuLg
I like that!
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: ed2kayak on June 24, 2011, 08:32:49 PM
Dynamic IP forwarding & VNC
I've been a realVNC user for along time on local network. I just purchased the Android app works great at home on my wifi.
But a couple of questions I need help with:
1) Do I just need to use a port forwarding service like no-ip or  DYNdns, (probably other examples) and do port forwarding via my router?
2) What are the security implications. Is a strong password adequate on the VNC server?
3) Would I need two instances of VNC server running, if I want to hit it from my lan?

Thanks, many pros here to guide me.

Thanks for the links for hardware reboot products, I use a netbook, soo I don't think those will help me.

Someone mentioned a telephone product:check this out:
http://dataprobe.com/remote_power/power_pal.php
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: Bushman on June 24, 2011, 08:42:10 PM
A lot of netbooks do not have power options.  Check your BIOS.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: saratogaWX on June 25, 2011, 01:26:50 PM
1) Yes, you should use a service like DynDNS to have a DNS entry to address your home setup. It's not a 'port forwarding' service, just a DNS service so your system can be addressed when outside your local network with a public IP address of your current ISP connection.  You run the DynDNS client on one system in your local network to keep the DynDNS address updated as your ISP may change your public address with DHCP.
You will need to set your router to pass the realVNC port to the inside IP address on your local network.  I use different ports for each system to be controlled so the router setup forwards the selected port to the proper local address.
2) A strong password should be enough, although using the WinNT authentication is probably stronger.  I use a strong password.
3) Only one instance of realVNC server is needed per host to be controlled.  To hit from LAN, use the local IP address (192.168....).  For outside access, use the DynDNS name and the same port.

I also don't use the default port for realVNC .. a different high port just makes it a bit more difficult for folks to try to hack in.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: xykotik on July 03, 2011, 01:30:25 PM
Lots of great ideas and diverse experience.  I'm playing a bit with logmein (free edition) and something like that oughta be sufficient for my occasional needs.  For file xfers, I uploaded to a "scratch" folder on my website using an FTP client on the remote PC, then downloaded from that folder on my access-computer with an FTP client.  A bit clunky I suppose, but the paid version of logmein that includes a file-mangler is a bit steep for the rare times I would use it.  I see it serves up it's own ddns independent of any other ddns client, like DynDNS or my router.  I'm still using DynDNS for my spy-cam.

I mentioned Apache/Xampp in case some are hosting their own webpages from home, rather than using a paid service.  The ISPs say that's ok for personal use, and I don't ever plan on running any kind of trendy site that would invite the general public en mas anyway.

More experimenting with this topic begs another question for Dell laptop users.  In the "special" Dell BIOS (the blue tree) I find options for power-on-LAN and power-on at a given time.  It does indeed power-on at the chosen time (ie 3:00am) when that feature is enabled, but not before.  That is, if I unplug the power and let the battery drain until it does a controlled shutdown then plug it back in some time later, it does not power up again until 3:00am.  The BIOS in other (non-Dell) PCs I have gives options to wake on other triggers, or "last state" when power is restored (ie, stays off if it was off, or powers on if it was on before power loss).  Anyone know if there is a trick to do that with an old Dell?
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: gadget_guy on July 03, 2011, 09:15:27 PM
Another option I sometimes use is to email the file(s) to the remote pc.  then I use LogMeIn to access the email client and save the attachments.  That actually works quite well.  I have the paid version for a couple of critical PCs and the free version for the rest.  So moving files via email on the free PCs works quite well.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: up10ad on July 03, 2011, 11:36:40 PM
I share a lot of stuff with DropBox (https://www.dropbox.com/), between work PC, home PCs and my iPhone. 
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: xykotik on July 04, 2011, 01:49:55 AM
I share a lot of stuff with DropBox (https://www.dropbox.com/), between work PC, home PCs and my iPhone. 

I used to swear by drop.io (then they went all facebook) and then dropbox, but it was too good a productivity and collaboration tool I think, because my company BLOCKED it within the intranet and vpn. I'm waiting for them to block my personal domain now, since it is more efficient for sending large (GB+) files to TS eather than the HOURS it takes using the company's big-file-xfer app.  For some insane reason they also  (try to) block google calendar and translate, but gmail is fine with them. 

Yes, I know.  Google is evil, but at least they make the trains run on time.  Getting my entire technophobic family (four generations) to use gmail is the only thing that got us efficiently communicating during a year full of crises.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: gadget_guy on July 04, 2011, 09:21:20 AM
I forgot about Dropbox.  I'm going to give that a try
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: C5250 on July 05, 2011, 09:33:56 PM
For many years, I used PCAnywhere. But, for some reason, I can no longer create an install package. So started using RealVNC and I like it. Unlike PCAnywhere, copying text from the clipboard doesn't require special steps. It can not transfer files though (maybe a paid version can). But I can do that via FTP.

DDNS comes with my domain, so it was a simple matter to setup a name that always points to my home router. Even though my IP rarely changes.

As for powering, first of all, do not configure to run the UPS down. Often when the power comes back on, it will not come back clean. I've ran it this before. The power comes back on, the system starts booting, and then power goes out again. If you don't get a BSOD the next time the system boots, you're lucky.

It's better to config the system so that it'll shutdown when the UPS hits, say 50%, and then power off the UPS. And then config the UPS not to restore power until the battery is charged to, say 75%. You could use lower numbers, but frankly, if the power is out for more than a few minutes, it not likely to be restored soon. This assumes that the system is configured to start up when power is restored and keeps the system from starting until the power has been restored for a long enough period of time that it is not likely to go out again in less time than it takes the system to boot.

Now, if you really planned things out, your server motherboard also supports an IPMI card (mine does) and you can power it on/off and otherwise remotely control the system independent of the state of the OS.


Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: xykotik on July 05, 2011, 11:36:25 PM
Right now, my "high-end" server is an old rescued laptop (Dell Latitude D410) running XPpro, WeatherLink and very little else.  Nothing too fancy.  I don't have it controlled by the 550VA UPS, although it does have an RJ11 jack for serial, and there is probably a driver CD somewhere.  The laptop is powered through the filter/surge only, not the battery/inverter, because the laptop battery alone with the lid closed (3+ hours) will outlast the UPS battery with the modem, router, 8-port switch, 2TB HDD (USB to router) and USBexpress (2 hours).  I don't need to kill the UPS (and network hardware) sooner by charging the laptop battery.  The UPS gives 2 beeps in a second once/minute when on batteries and beeps constantly for a consistent (roughly) two-minutes before shutting down, so I believe it is not running to zero.  I have windows power mgt set to shut down the laptop completely when batteries hit 5%.  I can only find BIOS settings for power-up either at a specific time or with LAN, not with line or anything else.  I wish I knew how to fool or flash the BIOS for more power features.  My Vue console has no power-failure backup other than its own batteries which should last months I'm told.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: Garth Bock on July 06, 2011, 09:43:53 AM
Teamviewer all the way here. Nice thing is...once you set up an account you can use their web app to remote your machines. For example...you are away on vacation and didn't pack your laptop and you need to remote and the hotel has guest computers in the lobby. You go to https://wa103.teamviewer.com (https://wa103.teamviewer.com) (just Google for Teamviewer web), sign-in and you can remote any of your computers through the web portal. I like it because you dont have to open up ports in your router and that kind of stuff. It supports dual monitors, video chatting with the other end, file transfers and more than I need.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: xykotik on July 07, 2011, 11:00:18 AM
From the looks of things, Winblows Remote Desktop doesn't seem to quite as popular among my fellow wx-geeks as logmein and teamviewer.

I've done some playing with all three in the past week.  Here are some brief observations...

Windows Remote Desktop.  Not happening.  Might be fine over a solid VPN or VLAN, but way too clunky for my needs.

LogMeIn.  Extremely simple to setup.  The free version doesn't do everything, but it does enough for quick remote fixes of stuff.  There are workarounds for the features that the free version doesn't have (like file xfer) and the web-based UI is quite fast.  It saves time by moving only the outline of active windows (and then updating when dropped) rather than the entire graphical window.  One drawback I have found is that it blows away my desktop wallpaper when I access remotely, and I have to put it back when I am in front of the box.  (It's just a stupid little graphic centered in the screen, so I can remember which computer I am logged into).  Access from my laptop over 802.11 at various public hotspots is acceptable for speed and display.  My 1920x1080 display with small icons is still usable and viewable when accessed (using full-screen mode) from my 1024x768 laptop, even with the downscale binning.  When connected, your keyboard and mouse are controlling the remote pc, unless you escape out, and that is nice for when you use keyboard shortcuts.  Since you get the feeling you are in front of that PC, it would be really easy to use windows-key shortcuts and maybe mess up something on your local box thinking you were conrolling the remote box, so that is a great feature.

TeamViewer.  Quick download of the "full" package and quick installation using their wizrd.  The client software is great because you get a full-screen mode with scaling, and a file-xfer api which work very well.  I think I will install this on my mother's computer.  That will make things a lot easier to fix when she calls for tech suppport, because now she just waits with a broken computer for me to visit, because it is a bit much for her to talk tech with anyone, especially with a heavy accent and little patience for an 80-y/o technophobe.  I'm not as impressed with their web-based access, although it is great that it is available, since I may need access sometimes (most of the time) from a PC that doesn't have the TVr client app installed.  It cuts the colors way down and there are some strange artifacts as well.  This is probably because they update the full-screen when moving a window around, not just a frame, like with logmein.  LMI finds the bandwidth by eliminating wallpaper and dragging frames, and TV does it by crunching your colors.  That's the tradeoff I see.  The TVr web app doesn't have full-screen or file xfer modes.  Teamviewer doesn't lock the keyboard to the remote app.  You have to add control-keys and/or enable checkboxes to simulate hotkey combos on the remote pc.

Overall, I'd grade them about the same.  It comes down to preference at this point.  I think I will leave them both on my main home-pc and my wx-laptop for more extensive testing during our big summer trip.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: Flag on July 15, 2011, 05:54:22 AM
There has got to be a better option than sticking a PC on the end of a remote access system. This would be the weakest link in the system.
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: Bushman on July 15, 2011, 09:20:49 AM
There has got to be a better option than sticking a PC on the end of a remote access system. This would be the weakest link in the system.

Huh?  What would you accomplish without a PC on the end?
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: Flag on July 15, 2011, 05:38:33 PM
There has got to be a better option than sticking a PC on the end of a remote access system. This would be the weakest link in the system.

Huh?  What would you accomplish without a PC on the end?

"without a PC on the end" we are talking about the remote end, the unmanned end and yes being able to remove a PC (as such) from the remote end that might not be accessible for long periods of time has to reduce the chances of downtime and improve availability, if not then there wouldn't be all this talk about having to get the system back up and running remotely.

 
Title: Re: Remote PC access
Post by: Bushman on July 15, 2011, 06:57:36 PM
I guess I can't see what you are after unless you are saying you want TCP/IP access to a weather station like you can get into a remote web-based PLC device.