I am very obsessed with technology, and I like to push the limits of whatever technology currently exists. Personally, I think it’s very cool that there are lots of remote access tools out there, like the 7 free ones listed in Aibek’s article on Screen-Sharing and Remote Access applications or the remote mobile VNC app I wrote about recently that lets you access your computer with your mobile phone.
However, there are circumstances when connecting to a PC isn’t easy or even possible, yet you still need the ability to reboot your web server or file-sharing server at home because an application is locked up or the server isn’t responding. These days, doing a remote computer restart is fast and easy – and it’s now even possible to do so from any web browser or by using the popular micro-blogging tool known as Twitter.
1. How To Perform a Basic Remote Computer Restart – Shutdown.exe
For those of you who don’t already know how to remotely reboot a computer, the simplest approach if you’re sitting on the same network as the target PC is to make use of the Windows shutdown.exe tool. The Microsoft support page makes the command a bit more complicated than it really needs to be, because there are a number of “switches” available so that you can tailor the shutdown command.
Essentially, from a command prompt or an application, you can issue the shutdown command using the syntax: shutdown -r -f -m \remotecomputerIP -t 00
- -m \remotecomputerIP – substitute remotecomputerIP with either the network name or IP address of the computer
- -r forces a restart
- -f forces all running applications to close
- -t 00 tells the command to restart without any time delay (zero seconds)
Depending on your reason for remotely restarting, you’ll want to use these commands carefully. For example, if you just want to set up an application that does a regular reboot every two or three days, you may want to consider allowing a user who’s currently on the computer to cancel the reboot, or at least allow them the option to save whatever they’re currently working on.
However, for the purpose of this article, all we really want to do is remotely force a reboot if you’re away from home and you’re in a situation where your web server isn’t responding. To do this, the command above will work. The one drawback with the “shutdown.exe” approach is that you need to be sure you are connected to your remote computer as a user that has administrator privileges. When you prefer to keep tight security on your PC or server, this isn’t always easy to accomplish.
2. Remotely Reboot Your Computer Through a Web Browser with Shutter
One of the easiest ways to get around this security quagmire is by installing a free application created by Denis Kozlov called Shutter. The cool thing about Shutter is that once you’ve got it set up on your target PC, you can perform various functions on your computer through any web browser on the Internet. First, install Shutter to your target PC or server and the initial screen that comes up will look like this.
First of all, don’t worry about the settings on this screen because these are for when you use the application locally. However, your interest is in using the application as a sort of “web server” that gives you access to your PC from any browser. To set it up, click on the Options button and choose the “Web Interface” tab.
On this screen, select “Enable,” choose a “Listen IP” from the list and enter whatever port you’d like to use. Most folks just use port 80 since it’s default, however if you want added security you can use some obscure port. Finally, choose your Username and Password (required), click save and the application is set up – it’s as easy as that! The only last step is to make sure that if you’re using a router, you open up a “hole” so that you can connect to your Shutter server through the router.
To do this, just go to your router administration control panel (usually 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1, depending on your router’s brand) and configure port forwarding as shown here.
Just make sure the IP and port you defined in Shutter is defined here and that it’s enabled. Once you save, setup is complete. Now you can go to any web browser and send not only a “restart” command to your computer, but also a whole list of other commands.
To access the Shutter service, you can just type in the IP on your local network. In my case, I’d open a browser and type “192.168.1.103:1087″ to access the web interface. From an external Internet location, like a library or from work, I simply type in my external IP assigned by the ISP followed by the port, such as “65.xxx.xxx.122:1087″ and the web interface will come up after you log in with the ID and password you defined.
Editor’s note: If you don’t know what your external IP is, just visit whatismyip.com
As you can see, the Shutter web interface lets you perform a whole list of tasks on your remote computer, including muting the volume, turning off the monitor or running a specific program. The great thing about this approach is that all of these commands are issued from the application running on your target computer, so you don’t need to perform any special security configurations to remotely trigger these commands.
3. Remotely Reboot Your Computer Through Twitter With TweetMyPC
Easily one of the coolest applications I’ve seen in a very long time, TweetMyPC is an application you can install on your target PC, just like Shutter. The difference is that in this case, the application “listens” intently to all of the “tweet” messages that you send out from your Twitter account. Whenever you issue a command such as Shutdown, Restart, or Logoff – the computer does exactly as it’s told.
Just install the application, go into settings and enter your Twitter credentials.
Click “Save and Close,” and you’re done! No complicated security configuration, no tweaking your router’s internet settings – just install the app, insert your Twitter credentials and you’re golden. Finally, go into your Twitter account and just issue your command.
The convenience of this restart technique are the awesome possibilities. Just imagine, now you can pull out your cellphone and text a Twitter “Restart” update to reboot your computer. Any place where you can access your Twitter account, you can issue one of these three commands to your remote computer. The good news is that the author of this application is in the process of developing a Mac version.
Do you know of any other cool ways to remotely reboot your PC? Share your own tips in the comments section below.
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