How to use remote assistance in Windows XP

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Published: Jun 02, 2002 Updated: Aug 30, 2004 Section: Articles & Tutorials :: Windows XP Author: Johannes Helmig Company: Printable Version Adjust font size: Rating: 4.4/5 - 757 Votes 1 2 3 4 5

Windows XP allows to send a request for assistance to another Windows XP system . The system asking for help/ support ("Assistance") is called the "Novice", the system giving help / support is called the "Expert" :

Such a connection to give assistance is possible via any connection, which supports TCP/IP : - local area network (LAN ) - Wide area network (WAN) - dial-in via Modem - via the Internet Notes: - to be able to use "Remote Assistance", both the system of the Novice and Expert must have Windows XP installed (if one of these systems is not running Windowsx XP, use NetMeeting ) ! - when connecting via a firewall , it is required to have an open TCP/IP port 3389. Once the "Expert" has accepted the invitation and connects to the "Novice" system, he can see on his screen the desktop of the "Novice", he is also (if allowed by the "Novice") take control and use the mouse and keyboard on his "Expert" system to control the "Novice" system :

This is similar to the "Remote Desktop", only available in Windows XP Professional, but while "Remote Desktop" allows to connect to a host-computer without any user action on the host system, Remote Assistance requires a user to be present to accept an incoming connection.

Check the setup of Remote Assistance :

In the Control-Panel, select the System icon:

(or right-click "My Computer" on the desktop and select Properties) Select the tab : Remote By default, Remote Assistance is activated. Please check the "Advanced ..." settings Note : The other option on on this tab , Remote Desktop , is NOT available for Windows XP Home Edition, it is only available for Windows XP Professional. Define, whether you allow the "Expert" only to view your activities or whether the "Expert" can also take control, i.e. use his mouse and keyboard to operate your system. Define the maximum amount of time, an invitation can remain open

Send an invitation for Remote Assistance To send out a request for help / support, to send an "Invitation for Remote Assistance", select from the Windows Startmenu : "Programs" / "Remote Assistance", This starts up the Windows XP "Help and Support Center" / Remote Assistance page. You can review the status of current invitations , to send out a new invitation, select "Invite someone to help you"

Remote Assistance : Pick how you want to contact your assistant :

There are 3 methods to send out an invitation : - via Microsoft Windows Messenger ( but it is NOT a MUST to use it ! ) - via e-mail using Microsoft Outlook Express - via "Save invitation as a file" (allowing other e-mail programs or even floppy disk transfer) In this example, I "Save the invitation as a File" (using Messenger or Outlook Express is similar) :

Enter your name define how long this invitation stays open then "Continue"

For security, it is highly recommended to define a password, which must be used by the "Expert" recipient to connect to your "Novice" system. It is your job to advise the "Expert" of the password, either by e-mail or a phone call. When selecting "Save Invitation", you will be asked to define the location to save the file (for example: to "My Documents" )

Remote Assistance give you some last instruction.

You need now to get the invitation file (default name : RAInvitation ) to your "Expert", also advising hum/her about the password !

Important note : While waiting for the"expert" to connect, make sure that your TCP/IP address does NOT change !

That is especially important for Internet connections : do NOT terminate your modem , DSL or ADSL connection (to connect later at a time agreed with your export again), because when reconnecting you will get most probably a new / different IP-address and then your "invitation" is invalid, because the IP-address does not match anymore !

Connecting from the Expert System to give Assistance : Once the "expert" has received the Invitation on his/her Windows XP system, doubleclick on the Invitation file , which opens the "Remote Assistance" Window :

If a password was defined, then enter it now. Continue with YES.

Your system is then connecting to the "Novice" system :

Once an "Expert" connects to a "Novice" system, a confirmation message will be displayed :

You must click on "Yes" to allow the "expert" to continue and to view your system. You will then the "Novice" windows of "Remote Assistance" :

You can chat via keyboard (type under "Message Entry" ) or via "Start Talking", of both the system of the "Novice" and the "Expert" are equipped with a sound-card with speakers and microphone.

The "Expert" has a different Window for "Remote Assistance" :

On the left, the section for chat messages, send / received via keyboard. On the right, the desktop of the "Novice" system. On top, the tools for the "Expert" . At this time, the "Novice" is operating the system, the "Expert" is just watching, while they exchange information via :

- keyboard chat, displayed as messages - voice communication via the network using microphone and speakers - phone call using a separate line if allowed in the settings of the invitation, the "expert" can take control of the system of the "Novice" by selecting in the toolbar "Take Control". When the "expert" like to take control, a message will pop-up on the screen of the "Novice" informing about this request . If you agree to this request, accept it by clicking on "Yes". Once the "Novice" accepted the request,a message will pop-up on the "Expert" system to advise about having control and to press "ESC" or any key sequence or combination including the ESC-key to return control to the "Novice".

The section "Chat History" of the "Remote Assistance" will show, that control has been taken by the Expert. The Expert uses now the mouse and/or keyboard of the "Expert" system to operate the "Novice" system to identify the problem, checking for example: - Control-Panel - DeviceManager - Event Log

To terminate a "Remote Assistance" connection, both the "Expert" and the "Novice" can select in their control-section to "Disconnect". The "Expert" will be informed about a "Disconnection" from the system of the "Novice":

About Johannes Helmig

Dr.Johannes Helmig is working as Director, Technical Knowledge Management in the Belgium office of Gerber Technology where he is involved in Customer Service and internal training, with special interest in Networking. Click here for Johannes Helmig's section.

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