Enterprise Software

How do I... Configure TightVNC for remote access?

The TightVNC Setup program enables registering TightVNC Server As A System Service during installation

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Numerous remote administration and connectivity tools exist to help support technicians and IT administrators troubleshoot, maintain, and access systems in different locations. Some are easy to use and require no firewall configuration. Others possess expensive and potentially prohibitive licensing requirements, while delivering more advanced functionality.

Often, VNC, which stands for Virtual Network Computing, is the remote administrative tool of choice for IT professionals. In its earlier iterations, VNC offered a simple, relatively straightforward method of affordably implementing fairly secure access to remote systems.

Over time, the open source community revised and improved the remote access tool. Developer Constantin Kaplinsky, in particular, maintained a project dedicated to delivering an improved VNC remote administration tool that addressed VNC's shortcomings. The result is a more capable application known as TightVNC.

Where to get TightVNC

Advertised as an OS-independent client/server package enabling remote network access to graphical desktops, TightVNC is a free tool organizations can use to solve remote connectivity needs. The software is distributed under the GNU General Public License. The self-installing Windows package can be downloaded from SourceForge.net. Linux, UNIX, and Java (viewer only) versions are also available.

TightVNC enhancements

Among the enhancements in TightVNC not found in standard VNC implementations are the ability to transfer files from the local system to the remote workstation (referred to as the server, in VNC parlance) or vice versa and adjustable compression levels to better mate connection speeds with the work being performed via the remote connection.

Other improvements include improved cursor handling (cursor movements are all processed locally to prevent performance issues), optimization for slower Internet connections, JPEG compression enabling better display performance, Web browser improvements that support up to 24-bit color modes, tightened security through the use of two passwords (one for full control and another for read-only access), and automatic SSH connectivity within UNIX.

Installing TightVNC

To install TightVNC on the workstation or server you wish to access remotely, begin by downloading the self-installing TightVNC package. Once you have the installation file ready (the current version at the time of this writing is tightvnc-1.2.9-setup.exe), follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the executable file. The Welcome To TheTightVNC Setup Wizard will appear. Click Next.

  2. Review the terms of the GNU General Public License, then click Next to acknowledge your acceptance of those terms.

  3. Specify the location where you wish to place the application's files and then click Next.

  4. Specify whether you wish to perform a full installation, a compact installation, or a custom installation. In this example, we'll perform a full installation by accepting the default settings and clicking Next.

  5. Specify whether the Setup program should create a Start Menu folder and the name you wish to use for the folder and then click Next.

  6. Configure additional settings. By default .vnc files are associated with TightVNC Viewer. If you want the system to serve as a VNC server, or host system, check the box for Register TightVNC Server as a system service. Then, click Next. The Ready To Install Screen will appear as shown above.

  7. Click Install to set up TightVNC. The application will install itself, and then you will see the Completing TheTightVNC Setup Wizard.

  8. Click Finish to complete TightVNC installation. On systems configured to operate as servers, or hosts for remote connections, it's also helpful to reboot Windows.


Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...


My brother just bought a new HP DualCore box running Vista Home Edition. I tried to get the box to act as a Remote Desktop Host so that he could access it from the backyard using is Lifebook Tablet running XP. After two hours I discovered that Vista Home doesn't support Remote Desktop Host. Vista Business is the next level up that supports the host function. So instead, I will give TightVNC a tryout.


I love this tool - when it works. I have about 90 XP SP2 PC's and they all have TightVNC installed. All the ones I have personally set-up have the "Run As A Service" option installed. These *usually* work. However, some of my systems just won't connect. The ones that will, those come up in just a second or two. I LOVE that! It's an awesome tool. So, I suspect that there's just something about the failed PC's setup that needs to be corrected. Also, I have another building that's on a different sub-net. Those never connect as far as I know. How can I get them all set-up correctly? What has to be the minimun criteria for TightVNC to work? Services? Permissions?


The minimum criteria for TightVNC to work, is, and assuming you run it as a service so that a user does not have to log on to launch the app a) The VNC Server service; this is registered by the TightVNC setup if you check the option during the install b) a password; VNC Server will NOT run if there is no password defined c) No firewall conflicts; if firewall is enabled on the server, make sure that the applicable port(s) are allowed for listening, i.e. default port of 5900 for the VNC client and 5800 for the java-based viewer The other building subnet shouldn't be a problem for TightVNC -- as long as the client can resolve the name to IP, and the above port(s) are allowed through the router(s)/firewall(s) between the subnets, it should work fine. If having trouble connecting by name, then try by IP to narrow down the troubleshooting. --C


Sounds like you need to configure the routers to allow the ports/VNC passthrough.


Hi, Thank you. I will have to verify that they all have default passwords set. Everything else should be set correctly. :^)