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One service that is often overlooked is Telnet. Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop is fine for Microsoft clients and servers that support it, but what about other devices and servers, like routers, switches, UNIX servers and others? The solution is to use Telnet.

The Telnet application is part of the TCP/IP protocol suite, and any network using TCP/IP can use it. Telnet is built into Windows Server 2003 and provides a command-line interface to remotely connect to another server like Unix or Linux for limited functionality, in order to configure or troubleshoot the server. However, you should remember that Telnet does not provide security and all passwords and data are transmitted in clear text.

The table below lists various Telnet commands and the actions they perform:

Telnet Command Action Performed
Open hostname Establishes session with host
Close Closes connection
Display Shows current settings for client
Send Gives additional commands as defined by type of host
Set Used with additional arguments for configuration options; these are dependent on client
Unset Turns off options that were previously set
Status Determines connection status
? Shows help menu based on host
Quit Closes Telnet Client

Clients can request assistance using the Remote Assistance tools included in Windows XP Professional and you can respond to their requests and assist them through your Window Server 2003 Remote Desktop Connection (RDC).

Once you are connected, you will be able to view the client's computer and even take control of their mouse and keyboard, with their permission. You can also upload files to clients or download their files to your computer or a central server. Remote Assistance communication can also be used with Windows Messenger or Microsoft Outlook.

Next: Remote Administration Using Terminal Services