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    Remote control of PCs

    Have you ever wished you could see your client’s PC from your own office? Or wanted to help a family member figure out how to make some edits to an Excel spreadsheet?

    There are several tools that you can use to control another PC remotely. I have used these three:

    VNC tends to be faster than all the rest, but is much more technical and complicated to set up and run. It works great, I recommend UltraVNC as my VNC choice.

    PCAnywhere was used by one of my former employers. It worked well, was fairly easy to use, and fit into our corporate network. It did require the client to provide the help desk with the IP address of the PC we were going to control. That could sometimes be difficult. You could have multiple sessions open to help multiple users at the same time. Additionally, the licenses are not cheap for occasional usage.

    I use LogMeIn to help family and friends with their PCs. Once the client software is installed on the remote PC, very little maintenance is required. The remote user can disable the software if they would prefer not allowing remote access without their permission or authorization. Additionally, there are settings to require permission from the remote user to access the PC.

    LogMeIn has several premium versions that have a subscription fee associated with them. I have used the free version for several years with great success.

    Pros:

    • Free
    • Works with firewalls that I have used. (Norton, Kerio, SPF)
    • Only requires browser for the local PC
    • No IP address information needs to be relayed.
    • Several security options are available.

    Cons:

    • Enable/Disable feature on remote PC is not perfect.
    • Requires account password to install remote client (might want to change it to something you can share while installing it, then changing it to something more secure for yourself)
    • Data travels through LogMeIn’s servers, it is not point-to-point.
    • File transfer is not available on the free version.

    I suggest that you try out LogMeIn and judge for yourself.

    A couple of things to remember:

    1. If you are installing on a “remote” PC that you will not be sitting in front of while it the client software is installed, you will have to provide the person working on that PC your LogMeIn user id and password to start the installation.


    2. Depending on the configuration of the remote PC, you will need to set up an access code. If the PC is setup for users with passwords, those end up being the access codes. Therefore, the remote PC might need to have an additional user id added to it for you to use to access it. This will depend on the security setup on the remote PC and your relationship with the PC’s owner. For example, since I maintain and support my parent’s PC, I have the user id’s and passwords for their PC’s. They don’t have an issue with that. In the case of friends, I have had them set up a user id for me that they can disable later.

    Let me know how LogMeIn works for you. I’m a satisfied, free, customer.