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Remote Potato Installation Guide

Based on an original guide by Dean Nelson, modified by Andreas Eide and Carl Partridge Feb 2012

Step 1: Download and Install Remote Potato

Downloading Remote Potato is easy enough – just go to the download page to download the most recent version. Once it’s downloaded, install it. This is pretty straightforward, just like any other program installation.

It's worth mentioning at this point that, if you're running Windows 8, you will need to quit out of the setting program that appears and install the free Windows 8 Upgrade pack, which you can get from the downloads page of this site. Once you've done this, re-launch the Remote Potato Settings application from your start menu and continue with this guide.

Once installed, open up the settings program so you can do a little configuring. On your first run, Remote Potato should launch a setup wizard - if it doesn't, click the link on the 'General' tab marked 'Run setup wizard'.

Go through the steps of the setup wizard - in most cases, the suggested values should be just fine. Tick the box to 'enable security' and enter a username and password. These will be your log-in credentials when you access Remote Potato from afar. You don’t have to do this but if you don’t then you run the risk of anyone being able to access (and delete!) your stuff.

Click through the next few pages - write down the important information about 'port forwarding'; you'll need it in step 4 below.

Eventually, the wizard will ask you what you want to do about Remote Internet Access.

The easiest way to get up-and-running is to choose 'I will use my external IP address', but beware; with many Internet Service Providers, this can change from time-to-time, and that could be very annoying if you're away from your home at the time! So why not set up a 'Dynamic DNS address'; that way, you're always able to connect, even if your IP changes. If you don't want this, then skip Step 2 below.

Step 2: Set Up DynDNS

DynDNS allows you to access your computer like a website, like yourmediacenter.dyndns.org. To get started, go to dyn.com/dns and set up a new account. Although DynDNS provides paid services, we’re only going to need the free trial (yay, free!). It's a little confusing - these days you need to sign up for the 'free 30 day trial', then cancel the trial. You'll actually be allowed to continue using the service after cancellation. Sounds weird, but it's 100% true - see here for more information.

During the sign-up process, you’ll be asked to pick a Hostname first and foremost. This is important as this will be the URL you use to access Remote Potato, so make sure it’s something you can remember. Once you’ve chosen a Hostname and have entered your IP address (which can be easily done by clicking the link that displays your IP address just below the entry box), click through to create your account. Remember to cancel it within 30 days to avoid being charged, though!

The final step in this process is that you’ll need what's called a 'DynDNS client'. This is basically a small program that keeps your ever-changing IP address in sync with your newly-created DynDNS account. The simplest solution is just to use Remote Potato's built-in DynDNS client - you'll find it back at the setup wizard where you left off.

If you have any problems with Remote Potato's own DynDNS client, you could always download the DynDNS update client - a free program that does the same thing.

Click through to complete the wizard. On the final page, it will display some useful information on how to connect to your server; if you're new to all this kind of thing, it might be worth writing this down.

Close the wizard, which returns you to the main settings app.

Step 3: Choose your shared media

Once you've closed the setup wizard, you'll be back at the main Remote Potato Settings screen. From this screen, you can change the basic settings, and also start and stop the Remote Potato Server.

You may see a message at the top of the screen says “Server is running” - if so, then press the Stop button in the top-left corner to put the server on hold for a few minutes while you set Remote Potato up.

The next step is to decide what stuff you're going to be sharing. Under the heading 'Shared Media', tick the box for each thing that you want to be able to see, or hear, remotely. Then, click each corresponding button (Music Library, Pictures, etc.) to choose exactly which files and folders you want to share.

If you're a Windows Media Center user, now is a good time to check out the other tabs of the settings program too, to choose TV channels, recording options and so on.

When you’re done configuring, press the Play button (where the Stop button used to be) to start the server - nearly done!

Step 4: Forward Ports

If you’re not familiar with the term “port forwarding” then read this article or this forum post to understand what it is. In this step, you will forward ports from your router to your computer so that when you go to http://yourmediacenter.dyndns.org:9080, you’ll see your Remote Potato server, rather than a This Page Cannot Be Displayed error.

This step mainly depends on (1)Your firewall and (2)Your router. Windows Firewall was set up automatically by the wizard; if you use a different firewall, then change your settings to grant full permission to Remote Potato.

The other factor here is your router. Fortunately, help is at hand: DynDNS has partnered with PortForward.com to make tutorials on router set-ups with many of today’s popular routers. Unfortunately, Remote Potato (being the relatively new program that it is) isn’t listed specifically as one of the available applications for these routers, but that’s OK; once you find your router, you should be able to follow the general guidelines for the Remote Desktop program tutorial to get an idea of what you need to do. (If the option of TCP or UDP protocols comes up in any of part of your router setup, enable forwarding for both.)

Note: I have a D-Link DIR-655. I thought I had a pretty good idea of how to forward my ports – just log into my router (my router address is 192.168.0.1- your router’s address may vary), go to Advanced, then Port Forwarding, plug in the port that I want to forward, and that would be that. Well, I was mostly right, but I was missing one critical step – actually enabling the port forwarding rules by clicking the little checkboxes next to each rule. Not all routers will be set up this way and not all routers will require the extra step of clicking a checkbox to enable forwarding, but here’s a screenshot of my setup for reference:

If you own a Linksys router, here's another screenshot you might find helpful

Step 5: Test Remote Potato

We're done! Time to find out if it works. From another computer (or even a mobile phone), open a web browser and enter the URL that you set up with DynDNS, then a colon (:) and the number 9080. 9080 is the 'port' that we forwarded in step 3 above.

Make sure you have http:// at the beginning. If you see Remote Potato then sweet! You’re all set.

If you don't see the Remote Potato welcome screen, you’ll need to check your settings. Go through this tutorial again and see if you missed anything. Make sure that you've downloaded and installed Silverlight too.

Note: If you attempt to access your DynDNS URL from the same computer (or even the same network) that’s hosting Remote Potato, your browser may time-out. It’s basically like telling a dog to look at her tail – she’ll run around and around and eventually stop (or maybe she’ll gnaw at it for a bit but, luckily, browsers don’t gnaw). So, to test Remote Potato from your home PC, you may just need to enter http://localhost:9080 instead of your DynDNS URL.