Remote Support

Remote Access: Using Your Computer Out of the Office

There are several remote access methods available for your office. We are going to go over some of these in this article such as LogMeIn, Remote Desktop, and more. When evaluating remote access options. There are 5 main areas on consideration that will go into rating of the solution. The product with the most points doesn't necessarily mean the product is the best performer. For instance, TeamViewer scores lower than LogMeIn and GoToMyPC, but that's only due to cost. Had TeamViewer been cheaper, it would've likely been number 1. I strongly suggest you decide on a solution based on your individual needs.

 

 

  1. Cost
  2. Difficulty of Setup
  3. Ease of Use
  4. Security
  5. Features

Remote Desktop


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Microsoft's Remote Desktop is a proprietary protocol which allows a user to take control of a remote computer over a network connection. Remote Desktop is included in all professional versions of Windows. Setting up Remote Desktop typically involves opening a port in your firewall or using it in conjunction with some type of VPN software. This can be tricky for your average user.  However, once it is setup, it's very easy to use. With respect to security, using a VPN or RD Gateway can greatly enhance it by providing enhanced authentication in addition to Remote Desktop's built-in encryption. RDP is also the fastest protocol delivering excellent performance even over dial up due to the way in which is engineered. RDP can access Windows on a lower level meaning it can detect and scale windows and text appropriately while other protocols are simply transmitting images of the screen. It supports remote printing, sharing of drives, smart cards, clipboards, and even display scaling. That means you can have multiple monitors on a computer that only has a single monitor if your remote client has multiple monitors. You can also do the reverse. Mobile apps are plentiful. It should also be noted that enhanced features like Remote Web Access and RD Gateway are available which mimic the simplicity and ease of use that LogMeIn has in addition to great performance that RDP delivers.

rdc-rdc

  1. Cost 20/20
  2. Difficulty of Setup 14/20
  3. Ease of Use 20/20
  4. Security 16/20
  5. Features 20/20

90 Points

 

LogMeIn

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LogMeIn was founded in 2003 in Boston, Massachusetts. LogMeIn provides remote access over the cloud. It's geared towards end-users and IT Pro's depending on the package you choose. This was the preferred method of setting up remote access when it was free. It's very easy to setup for remote access. As of January 2014, LMI no longer offers any free editions. They also have a history of increasing prices without notifying the customer causing a lot of customers to discontinue their LMI subscription. Pricing is shown below. Setting up LMI involves just running an installer and signing into an online account to work with the computer. A mobile app is also available. If you are using it for remote access, you should make sure to blank the screen or anyone near the remote computer will be able to see. Security is excellent and straightfoward for LogMeIn. It's protected by AES 256 Bit Encryption out of the box, time outs for multiple attempts, and IP blocking for too many attempts. The feature set on the Pro is quite similar to RDP. They are mainly different in the monitor scaling capability and speed. LMI is a bit slower than RDP and does not have the ability to scale to the number of monitors on the remote client. It does however support multi-monitor hosts. File transfers, printing, and high resolution are all available. You may run into some issues with the browser client or require installation.
LMIO

  1. Cost 15/20
  2. Difficulty of Setup 18/20
  3. Ease of Use 18/20
  4. Security 18/20
  5. Features 16/20

85 Points

 

 

Chrome Remote Desktop

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Chrome Remote Desktop is actually an app available to Chrome Users. Works on Mac and Windows. This is relatively new player to the space. This requires some flavor of the Chromium Engine (Chrome or SRWare Iron) and the Chrome Remote Desktop App. Installation is pretty straight forward. You just need a GMail Account. Chrome Remote Dekstop is free and easy to setup. The feature set is relatively limited compared to full featured Remote Access solutions like Remote Desktop and LogMeIn. This is a great solution if you need basic remote access. If you need a fully featured client, I would opt for LogMeIn or RDP instead. Security is good too. In addition to authenticating with GMail, you'll also need to input a pin. You will need several workarounds to print, exchange files, and multi-monitors.

chromerdp

  1. Cost 20/20
  2. Difficulty of Setup 16/20
  3. Ease of Use 14/20
  4. Security 18/20
  5. Features 10/20

78 Points

 

GoToMyPC

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GoToMyPC is a lot like LogMeIn with the feature set. They have virtually identical security and feature sets. Performance is also quite similar. However, GoToMyPC costs about $120/yr per computer where as LMI is nearly half that. From a cost perspective, I would have to give it LogMeIn over GoToMyPC. It's relatively straight foward to setup. A simple client needs to be downloaded and installed on the PC. The computers are also accessed via web browser. Like LogMeIn, computers are accessed via the browser. You also may run into some issues with the web client.

gotomypc

  1. Cost 10/20
  2. Difficulty of Setup 18/20
  3. Ease of Use 18/20
  4. Security 18/20
  5. Features 16/20

80 Points

 

TeamViewer

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TeamViewer is widely known for its remote access software. The performance, simplicity, and efficiency are second to none. Most people use TeamViewer as a premiere remote support tool. It offers extra features like meetings and presentations but lacks the multi-monitor scaling of RDP. It works over your local network too giving it a big advantage over LMI and GoToMyPC. However, the main issue with TeamViewer is cost. The basic business license is $749 for one user. This makes it very expensive compared to the alternatives. However, the license is perpetual unlike LogMeIn and GoToMyPC which are subscription-based. TeamViewer is geared more towards Remote Support Agents rather than remote access applications. This is obvious with chat and conference capabilities. Setting it up is relatively easily. Like LMI and GoToMyPC, it also has desktop client that needs to be installed for remote access. However, it's web interface performance is poor compared to its full desktop application. Portable version are offered but it may difficult to run on uncontrolled computers.

win-mainwindow

  1. Cost 2/20
  2. Difficulty of Setup 16/20
  3. Ease of Use 18/20
  4. Security 18/20
  5. Features 16/20

70 Points

 

VNC

RealVNCUltraVNC-1.0.9.6.2-

 

The use of VNC as a remote access tool has been deprecated for the most part. Its performance is relatively poor as is the security. Setting up VNC is more difficult than setting up Remote Desktop. There are lots of variants of VNC out there. Most are free. RealVNC and UltraVNC are some of the most popular. RealVNC costs about $40 and UltraVNC is free. Using it can be difficult depending on what variant of VNC is used. There is a server and client application while most other solutions bundle them into one simple program. It has a clunky file manager interface. Achieving optimal performance can require significant tinkering with color and quality settings. The feature set is difficult to comment on since different versions have different features. Only the paid version supports things like Remote Printing. Multi-monitor support varies by developer.

  1. Cost 14/20
  2. Difficulty of Setup 10/20
  3. Ease of Use 14/20
  4. Security 12/20
  5. Features 14/20

64 Points

 

VPN

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A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be a little tricky to understand. While VPN can be used for remote access itself, it's mostly used in conjunction with Remote Desktop or VNC. For instance, if you want to use RDP on multiple computers, you can use VPN instead of opening several ports on your firewall. VPN is basically like having your local network over the Internet. One big caveat is that is can be severly limited by bandwith. If you're trying to run a database application like Amazing Charts or transfer large files, performance can be quite poor. There are many programs and appliances that provide VPN. A lot of business class firewalls and routers have VPN capability built-in. There are software solutions like Hamachi and OpenVPN. If you find port forwarding daunting, you may want to consider using Remote Desktop and Hamachi (which is free for up to 5 computers). Then you get the speed and performance benefit of Remote Desktop with Hamachi as the security layer. But with respect to VPN as a purely remote solution, it's quite poor due to bandwith constraints.

  1. Cost 14/20
  2. Difficulty of Setup 14/20
  3. Ease of Use 4/20
  4. Security 18/20
  5. Features 4/20

54 Points

2 Responses

  1. Is Remote Desktop a good solution for concurrent remote logins? Or is that a job for Terminal Server?
    • Terminal Services/Remote Desktop Services is what you want to use for concurrent remote access. I have a another post coming soon on concurrent remote access/multiple offices.
  2. […] multi-site capability as opposed to the issues with general remote access. We have an article that covers types of remote access here. The first thing you need to do is determine if you need concurrent remote access or simple remote […]

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