Telnet is a program installed on computers that lets users access other computers remotely, so long as they are connected to a network. It is a program, which enables users to execute commands on another computer over the Internet. It is a convenient way of altering certain aspects of a computer without physically being in front of that computer. Although not widely used anymore, it is still convenient because some commands execute faster over telnet than over the Web or any other similar systems.
- Important information. Before you can start using telnet, you need three pieces of information. First, you need to know the Internet name or unique IP address of the unit you want to communicate with. This often comes in the form of machine.site.network, as in the case of student.nyc.edu. If you don’t know the Internet name of the machine, the IP address will do (usually comes in the form of 255.255.255.255. For example: 192.168.0.255). Second and third, you need a valid username and password to be able to gain access to the server.
- Bringing up the telnet program. Windows has a built-in telnet program that can be accessed from the command window. Other operating systems have their versions, too, and some free programs can also be downloaded from the Internet. To access the telnet program in Windows, bring up the command prompt by going to Start>Run and typing cmd.exe. A window with a black background will pop up. In the command prompt, type telnet Internet name/IP address. For example: telnet professor.nyc.edu. Once connected, you will be prompted to supply your username and password.
- Logging in. Simply supply the necessary details and press enter. After being verified, you are then taken to the root directory of the machine you have just accessed. If you can’t login, verify with your systems administrator that you have permission to access the server. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use telnet for your intended purpose.
- Executing commands. Once inside the machine, you can issue a variety of commands for the other machine to perform. For example, you can type ls –l and press enter to see a list of files in the current directory. You can also browse files, move them, rename them and copy them. A whole slew of other commands is available by typing ?/help.
- Closing the telnet program. Once you’ve accomplished what you needed to do on the server, you can close the telnet program by typing close to break from the current connection and quit to close the telnet program itself.
Telnet is useful in accessing remote data from another computer. In the past, it’s been used for accessing databases supplied by the government, and for a time many library catalogues were only accessible via telnet. Some text-based games can also be accessed through telnet. But today, there are more streamlined and user-friendly methods to access a computer remotely, although some still prefer to stick with this old school method.