Note that you will have to configure your router to permit specific kinds of incoming connections, Details vary from router to router; read its manual or help files, looking for keywords like "server" and "DMZ"
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I would use VNC. You will need to have it installed on both machines you want to use. It also works across platforms.
Yea, I would go with VNC. It does require you to leave your computer on, unless you use wake on LAN, but you can find VNC clients for almost any device, most of them are free. I use an app for my iPod called SkyCloud, it's free and does everything you would want it to be. There is a small delay between stuff, so you can't expect to play RTS games or anything, but for accessing files it should be fine. I use it on my cheap laptop for college, so I don't have to buy two copies of adobe CS4 and have it run slow on my laptop, I just leave my desktop on and use the fast wifi to VPN into my desktop.
I prefer LogMeIn. (Google it)
Speaking from my experience, I use LogMeIn and it's never failed. Also, it's free.There are plenty of 3rd party remote access software, Windows 7 even boasts one, but I have yet to use it.