How Does Remote Access Work?

By Jeffrey Ober

The Network

To set up a connection that uses remote access, the first item required is a network. Typically, the remote access is used when a company sets up a network at the company headquarters or other company building, and a person wants to access the network from a location other than the physical location of the network. The person may want to access the network from another building, from home or while traveling across the country or the world. The network needs to be set up to be a secure network, or the network will be open and attacked from all areas by hackers.

The Network Access Device

For the network to allow remote access, there will have to be a computer or device set up that has the function of providing that access. This device will need to connect to the local network that has been set up. The device will also need to have a way to connect to an external network. Often this second, external network is the Internet, but it can effectively be any other external network. This device is often a computer that is considered to be a gateway computer or remote access server, and it usually has at least two network cards so it can connect to the two separate networks.

The Remote Client

This is the computer that connects to the network. To the user, this connection is often completely transparent. The main purpose of remote access is so that the remote devices on the remote network (like printers) appear to be normal, local devices on the client computer. This client computer will need to connect to the external network using a dial-up connection or other method of communication. Often this is done by the client simply connecting to the Internet. The client will then be set up with the address of the network access device. The network access device will verify that the client computer is authorized to have access to the internal network and then will give that client computer access. On the client computer, the printers, drives or other devices will then be mapped and set up so they appear to be local devices: for example, the S: drive on the local machine will actually be a physical device on the remote network, but be accessible as a local drive on the client computer.