VNC Alternatives: Remote Desktop Software

After using VNC for a long period of time, I ran into a situation where I couldn't use it.

February 9th, 2010 • Develop •
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Last week, my parents were having some issues with their laptops (future post regarding McAfee Total Internet Protection 2010), so I decided to look into some remote control software since they are in Florida and I'm in Ohio.

Since my mother and father have a firewall, I figured this was going to be a challenge to walk my parents through a firewall configuration and allow me to connect to their machines, so that eliminates VNC from my list of possible candidates.

My requirements for remote desktop software were simple:

  • Easily work with firewalls instead of against them
  • Simple installation (for my parents)
  • Free (of course)

The search begins

After looking around for some alternatives to VNC, I ran across LifeHacker.com that had a list of the five best remote desktop tools. So I decided to examine the list.

Out of all of the remote desktop tools, I selected TeamViewer to test first because it matched all of my requirements. They even have a portable version for mobile users.

I asked my father (the technical one) to go to teamviewer.com and download the application. After both of us installed it, we ran TeamView and the all-in-one application had a key and password to create a session between both machines.

The permission-based access of the PC is an excellent way to allow the user to accept an incoming request for help.

When I logged in, I had complete control of the laptop. I examined what was wrong with the PC, fixed it, and terminated the session.

Job Completed

Team Viewer provided me with the following outcomes:

  • The installation was extremely simple,
  • It worked with both firewall setups on each PC, and
  • The price is exceptional (Free for non-commercial users)

Team Viewer is exactly what I was looking for and will be sticking with them for a long period of time (since my father is now the technical user of the family). ;-)

Has anyone used a different remote desktop tool to provide technical support?

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Picture of Jonathan Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

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