Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

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Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:55 am

Hello everyone,

I am interested in connecting remotely to friends' computers to do things like virus checks/removal, etc., since I always get asked and don't like to have to drive over every time, lol! Is there some easy way to make a direct take-over connection with Windows XP/Vista/7 machines that's built into the operating systems already and doesn't require too much configuration on their end? If not, then is there a free third-party alternative that works well? Lastly, if no good free alternatives, how about a good paid-for version that is reliable and has good support, etc?

Thanks for any suggestions,

Trellot
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:16 pm

http://teamviewer.com/index.aspx

I tried using the one built into Windows, but never could get it to work. Teamviewer was as simple as install and run on both computers. You get a window that is the other person's desktop and you can do anything to the computer as if you were right there.
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:31 pm

VNC? (many flavors)

AIDA64? (used to be Everest/AIDA32)

RDP via the request for remote help built into the OS?
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:36 pm

The tools built in to Windows (Remote Desktop / Remote Assistance) should be fine. You may need to make one more on-site visit to configure their router to allow/forward port 3389.

RealVNC also works well, if you prefer a third-party solution for some reason. (Free version here)

If you use one of the solutions that is "always on" (Remote Desktop or VNC) as opposed to user-initiated (Remote Assistance), you will want to use a strong password, and possibly configure the PC (or router if you are using port forwarding) to listen on a non-standard port number, to make it more difficult for people to hack in to the system.

Edit: Added link to the VNC free version page. IIRC the free one used to be on the front page, guess they changed that since the last time I downloaded it.
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:36 pm

I use a program called CrossLoop to connect to my Mom and Dad's pc. Free and easy.
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:06 pm

Teamviewer works great because its dead simple for the user to install, but they have to give you the password every time you want to create a session, but you can both share the desktop at the same time, and there is no configuration needed in the router.

Remote Desktop is essentially always on, but the router would need to be configured for access, and you and the user cannot be sharing the same desktop at the same time.

VNC is similar to Remote Desktop, its always on and the router would need to be configured, but you can share the desktop at the same time with the user.
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:59 pm

Another vote for Crossloop. Free, simple and it works. All packets are Blowfish encrypted.

From here:
"Once the rendezvous for the Share and Access parties is completed CrossLoop attempts a direct peer-to-peer (P2P) connection between the Share and Access computers. This is usually possible and is successful in about 85% of the connections. If not, CrossLoop relays all of the messages between the Share and Access computers through the CrossLoop relay server. CrossLoop sometimes fails to make P2P connections when a poorly behaved router is involved in the connection, or when UDP packets are blocked."
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:34 pm

Remote Desktop is not as nice since once you log on, the other end will get locked out.

Remote Assistance is the one where both you and the other end can see and interact with the screen. Easiest way to do this is if both of you have Live Messenger. Assuming uPnP is set up, there should not be anything extra you need to configure.
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Wed Dec 29, 2010 2:29 am

Update:

Ok. So, I made my first connection using Windows Remote Assistance with a relative of mine. The experience was ok, I suppose, but I was kicked out of the session once and kind of had to wait long periods for actions of mine to take place. Would Remote Desktop give me more control/a better connection than Remote Assistance? Also, can the individual on the receiving end of Remote Assistance leave the computer to me without worry of having to assist in something? I noticed a couple of times when a message would pop-up saying that "now, I was assisting...etc, etc." and I was wondering that if nobody is on the other end, will I loose the ability to assist without somebody assisting the connection as well, lol!?

Thanks,

Trellot
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:09 am

I use remote control a lot, and in my experience the best two options are LogMeIn and TeamViewer. Each has strength and weaknesses but generally speaking you should look no further than the two of them.

TeamViewer is lightweight and extremely easy to set up over the phone. You only need to get your user to download a 3MB standalone .exe file from TeamViewer's homepage and run it. He'll read a couple of numbers to you over the phone, and you'll take it from there. Despite its simplicty, it is very flexible. You can set it up for unattended access using a predefined password. You can group your users in a Partner List and their desktop will be only a double-click away. You can transfer files between the two computers using an integrated browser, and if the two computers are on the same LAN they'll establish a direct connection with each other for better performance.

The downsides to TeamViewer are that even though it's snappy it is not optimized for Aero animations, and the free (unlicensed) version is quite persistent in reminding you that it is intended for personal use only.

LogMeIn is free for both personal and business use, and is optimized for Aero, but is not as convenient as TeamViewer. The set up procedure is more complicated and you need to provide your account password in the process, but once you're done the software is ready for unattended access, and it's easy to toggle it on and off from the tray icon (if your user insists on privacy). To initiate remote control you need to use a web browser, and the ActiveX plugin for IE works better than the Java client for other browsers, but you can buy an application called LogMeIn Ignition that mimics TeamViewer's Partner List.

Both solutions work behind routers and are very reliable. I personally use a combination of the two: for one-time assistance I use TeamViewer, and for permanent access I gain temporary access with TeamViewer and set up LogMeIn.
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:42 am

I'm a recent teamviewer convert... from my point of view the really useful feature is that it supports windows, mac and linux so I can connect to computer from any computer. The other thing I really like about teamviewer It's very simple to setup. You don't have to install it, the user can run it as an executable so with 2 or 3 clicks you're connected

VNC is a pig to get working on vista / win7 especially if you need to do support work as it doesn't like UAC unless you get the pay version (at least it was last time I tried it). Plus you've got to do all the network setup: fix leases, dynamic dns and port forwarding.

Remote desktop is OK but as already mentioned you can't share the screen with the user at the other end so you can't get the user to show you the problem is and you can't show him how to do something for himself. You also got to do the same network setup as VNC.

Remote assistance should be exactly what you want but I too found it pretty frustrating and unreliable.
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:01 am

I use LogMeIn a lot. The iPhone and iPad apps make it even better, but those cost money. I have it installed on both my parents' computers, and a few annoying family friends that can't seem to not get Facebook viruses. Its free and browser based for the viewing so you don't need to install anything just to view.
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:27 am

Trellot wrote:Ok. So, I made my first connection using Windows Remote Assistance with a relative of mine. The experience was ok, I suppose, but I was kicked out of the session once and kind of had to wait long periods for actions of mine to take place.
That usually means connectivity is not stable between the two of you. I have someone across the Pacific and RA really tests your patience on both ends (the other end is not exactly high speed broadband either, the upload is pathetic there).

Trellot wrote:Would Remote Desktop give me more control/a better connection than Remote Assistance?
In theory it should, because Remote Desktop is designed for the original user to log in when s/he is out on the road. So it will be like a user logging on his/her own machine. That is why it completely locks the other end out while you are accessing. RA gives both sides the ability to view the screen and give the option of the person asking for help to grant control to the helper/expert.

Trellot wrote:Also, can the individual on the receiving end of Remote Assistance leave the computer to me without worry of having to assist in something? I noticed a couple of times when a message would pop-up saying that "now, I was assisting...etc, etc." and I was wondering that if nobody is on the other end, will I loose the ability to assist without somebody assisting the connection as well, lol!?
I remember if the person asking for help is on XP, accidentally hitting Esc will relinquish the helper/expert's control which means you will need to ask the other end to grant you control again. I forgot how it behaves when it is Vista/7 helping Vista/7, but I seem to remember less of an issue there (or may be I did not have to hit Esc when I was helping my Vista/7 friends). When the other end needs to leave the computer and leave control to me, I have to be super careful not to let me hand to touch the Esc after I obtain control :lol:. What are the OSes on both ends and how is the connection in between?

I too heard good things about TeamViewer, so if RA does not work out you can try TeamViewer.
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Re: Connecting Remotely to other Windows PCs

Postposted on Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:40 pm

Flying Fox wrote:What are the OSes on both ends and how is the connection in between?


Well, my first connection was 7 on 7 and that was the one that was a little jerky. But, I'm needing to connect to a couple of XP machines and was thinking that the experience would be potentially even worse with that, not sure. These connections are to machines way up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in California, and I'm about 2-3 hours away...I'd head up there physically, but don't want to get stuck in a storm and potentially miss work. :o

Thanks for all the info...I downloaded TeamViwer but it only has like 10 days free trial.

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