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Overview of remote access

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Overview of remote access

By configuring Routing and Remote Access to act as a remote access server, you can connect remote or mobile workers to organization networks. Remote users can work as if their computers are physically connected to the network.

Users run remote access software and initiate a connection to the remote access server. The remote access server, which is a server running Routing and Remote Access, authenticates users and services sessions until terminated by the user or network administrator. All services typically available to a LAN-connected user (including file and print sharing, Web server access, and messaging) are enabled by means of the remote access connection.

Remote access clients use standard tools to access resources. For example, on a server running Routing and Remote Access, clients can use Windows Explorer to make drive connections and to connect to printers. Connections are persistent: Users do not need to reconnect to network resources during their remote sessions. Because drive letters and universal naming convention (UNC) names are fully supported by remote access, most commercial and custom applications work without modification.

A server running Routing and Remote Access provides two different types of remote access connectivity:

  1. Dial-up networking

    Dial-up networking is when a remote access client makes a nonpermanent, dial-up connection to a physical port on a remote access server by using the service of a telecommunications provider such as analog phone, ISDN, or X.25. The best example of dial-up networking is that of a dial-up networking client who dials the phone number of one of the ports of a remote access server.

    Dial-up networking over an analog phone or ISDN is a direct physical connection between the dial-up networking client and the dial-up networking server. You can encrypt data sent over the connection, but it is not required.

    For more information, see The remote access server as a dial-up networking server.

  2. Virtual private networking

    Virtual private networking is the creation of secured, point-to-point connections across a private network or a public network such as the Internet. A virtual private networking client uses special TCP/IP-based protocols called tunneling protocols to make a virtual call to a virtual port on a virtual private networking server. The best example of virtual private networking is that of a virtual private networking client who makes a virtual private network connection to a remote access server that is connected to the Internet. The remote access server answers the virtual call, authenticates the caller, and transfers data between the virtual private networking client and the corporate network.

    In contrast to dial-up networking, virtual private networking is always a logical, indirect connection between the virtual private networking client and the virtual private networking server over a public network such as the Internet. To ensure privacy, you must encrypt data sent over the connection.

    For more information, see The remote access server as a virtual private networking server.

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