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I am trying to save money by making my old laptop last as long as possible, but today's applications are stretching its resources thin, so I have trouble running games, VMs, and other resource-intensive applications on it.

I do have a custom-built PC however with some pretty good hardware (lots of RAM, good CPU and GPU, SSD), and was wondering if it would be viable to install Windows Server on it and use it as a terminal server. This way, I could have access to the good hardware wherever I'm at, whether I'm in another city or just in another room of the house. I could also use my even older laptop, which is about a decade old, as a terminal, and get the same performance.

How viable is this? Am I going to run into any issues that I am overlooking? My main concern is how well my applications will run on the server (most notably games, which I know Windows Server was not designed for).

Edit: There are situations where I'd like to run more than one session on the machine, but I can live without this.

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How many concurrent sessions do you need? I suspect the answer is "one", in that case you really don't need a Terminal Server. For one, it won't save you any money because the Windows Server License ain't exactly a bargain. To remote into it from abroad you would need some way to know your home IP (maybe you have a fixed one or a domain, many homeusers don't though). There are services like DynDNS of course.

An easier alternative would be a software like TeamViewer, which handles one session and the IP issue and is free for personal use. And your desktop at home only needs a regular Windows license, not a server version. You can pretty much forget to play any games remotely, the performance will not suffice.

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  • There would be times when I would like to have more than one session, such as if I want to allow my family members to use applications on it, but I could live without. As for the gaming performance--I don't see any bottlenecks besides network latency, i.e. there will be significant latency with respect to input and output from the machine. Is this a correct assumption or am I missing something else? May 13, 2015 at 18:27
  • "You can pretty much forget to play any games remotely, the performance will not suffice." Well, GeForce Now! lets you connect to PCs in some datacenter somewhere and it seems to work okay. It's probably a decent solution for someone who does not need a perfect online gaming experience. Or maybe it's just not sufficient when through TeamViewer instead of Windows. That might be true. I've never used TV.
    – Slothario
    Jul 23, 2020 at 15:22
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I think this is a good idea, so I made some research.

First, let me explain what I am using:
I have registered to http://www.noip.com/
You can create a free dynamic dns that will resolve your ip address to a domain name if You want to access your pc across the internet. They also have a nice program that keeps refreshing the ip address associated to your domain name if You have a dynamic ip address. This must be running on one of your PCs all time. I am using this for an ftp server.

To access my computer, I am using Teamviewer, this is also free for personal use only. You just install Teamviewer, create an account and log in on the main computer where You want to connect. Later You can access this PC from anywhere. You just need a Teamviewer client (it will work even without installing) just log in to the same account and You will see your PC and 2 click connect to it. This also works fine with routers without any extra configurations and port forwarding.

About gaming:
I did not try this but I found some useful info

I found a way for it by streaming.
This of course will not work over the internet, but You might get it working on LAN
read this:
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/id-1638643/tutorial-create-onlive-remote-streaming-setup.html

If you have some more questions please let me know.
Also if You manage to get it working, I am curious how You did it, because I like the idea.

The best way for multiple session connections is by remote desktop, but I will have some more research for this.

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  • So, how is the project going? Were You able to get it working? If You have other questions, feel free to ask. If the answers helped, than You should accept the best answer that You got.
    – Divin3
    Jun 3, 2015 at 15:07
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It is entirely possible to remote into a home machine from your laptop and have it work much like any remote connection.

You have several options in this regard, be it simply remote desktop connection / bitvise ssh (with the appropriate ports forwarded at home, and some way to get your home IP like no-ip.org) or 'it just works' with teamviewer.

However, at the end of the day it is still just a remote connection. You mention games several times (more than anything else) including saying "most notably games". I hate to break it to you, but there is nothing that is going to be anywhere even remotely playable over a remote connection.

You might be able to call an entirely turn based game playable if you lowered your definition of playable to literally "is able to play at all". Frankly, if this were not stack exchange I would think you were trolling.

So if I am correct in understanding what you want the answer is "No".

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  • I guess you got me. When I originally asked the question I didn't have network response time in mind; I was only thinking about the fact that the picture that must be transmitted but didn't think about how it adds up when you factor in input as well. I suppose that becomes a pretty big problem. May 13, 2015 at 20:05
  • "There is nothing that is going to be anywhere even remotely playable over a remote connection." That's not true. GeForce Now! works decently.
    – Slothario
    Jul 23, 2020 at 15:24

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