Three Ways to Access a Remote PC

Dennis Foote - Systems Engineer

So being home sick for a couple days this week I thought to myself what can I blog about. The thing that came to mind first was I wanted to do some work from home without being in the office and getting everyone else sick. With this thought came the subject of remote desktop and the various ways to use it. There are a lot of different office environments; the right remote software for you may be different from others. 

  1. Logmein is a common 1 PC connection user friendly environment that allows you to connect to one computer from anywhere you have an internet connection. The best thing about it is it’s FREE! The down side is that you can only connect to one computer.
     
  2. Other environments may be cause for upgraded software such as GoToAssist. For a monthly fee this software allows you to have multiple connections to multiple PC’s. You can setup unattended installs that will allow you, without anyone on the other end to connect to any PC anywhere as long as you and the PC that you are connecting to have an internet connection. GoToAssist also provides a connection method to connect to a PC without unattended install as long as the person follows the steps provided to you when you sign up. This will require the user to allow you to connect to their PC and works well for a small to medium-sized business that would like to use remote desktop software to connect to PC’s within the company or from outside the office.  The only negative thing about GoToAssist for me is only one person can use it at a time unless you buy multiple licenses.  They do give a free 30 day trial and stand by the product with very good phone support, online chat, and email support. 
     
  3. A third way is RDP or Windows remote desktop. It’s built into every common version of windows and it’s FREE! There is some downside to it though. It’s not the easiest to setup nor is it very user friendly when it comes to maintaining settings and connections. The RDP connection is based on either DNS or Public IP.

Now, if you have a static IP from a company such as Verizon you should not worry, seeing that you will be connecting using the same IP all the time. But if you do not have a static IP from a provider and rely on a public IP then this may not be for you. Public IPs do change from time to time and it can be very frustrating when you need to connect to a PC to get some work done and you find that the public IP has changed and you cannot get a connection.  If you do venture down the  path of Windows RDP, you may find yourself using something like ipchicken.com to find the public IP of the PC’s location that you want to connect to. This may not help at crunch time seeing that if you need to connect to a PC and you are not at the location of it, you might as well throw in the towel.

All and all, remote desktop can be a blessing when you need to access a remote PC. You just have to find one that fits your needs.  I have used all three listed above and have been able to use them in a way that works for me and the clients I serve.