Technical Details

VPN is a “virtual private network.”  The VPN protocol is how your HOME computer connects to the HSPH network.  The VPN client, Cisco Anyconnect, creates a tunnel to the HSPH network, through which you can access other computers on the HSPH network.  Before connecting with remote desktop software, a VPN tunnel must be established from the client HOME computer to the HSPH network.

VNC is “virtual network computing.” The VNC protocol allows you to gain access to the desktop of another computer.  The VNC client, Tight VNC, connects to an HSPH computer through the VPN tunnel.  Mac computers have a VNC server pre-installed but Windows computers do not.

To connect FROM a Windows computer to a Mac: Install Tight VNC on the Windows computer, and use the Tight VNC Viewer to connect to the Mac’s IP address.

To connect from a Mac to another Mac, no additional software is required.  Simply use the Finder, select Go -> Connect to server and enter the IP address of the other Mac.

RDP is “remote desktop protocol.”  The RDP allows you to gain access to the desktop of another computer.  The RDP client, Remote Desktop Connection, connects to an HSPH computer through the VPN tunnel, just like the VNC client.  Windows computers have an RDP server pre-installed but Mac computers do not.

    To connect FROM a Mac to a Windows computer: Install Remote Desktop Client on the Mac, the go to Applications -> Remote Desktop Connection and enter the IP address of the Windows computer.

    To connect from a Windows computer to another Windows computer, no additional software is required.  Simply go to Start -> Accessories -> Remote Desktop Connection and enter the IP address of the other Windows computer.

In summary:

FROM Mac to Mac or Windows to Windows: Connect with VPN, then use native remote desktop software.

From HOME Mac to OFFICE Windows: Connect with VPN, then use Remote Desktop Client.

From HOME Windows to OFFICE Mac: Connect with VPN, then use VNC client.