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What are the most commonly used remote support / screen sharing tools available?

How do they compare, both price- as functionality wise?

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What OS? [this comment doesn't need 15 characters] –  Mikeage Apr 30 '09 at 8:50
    
Thanks, Mikeage. Totally forgat to mention it. Edited question title now. –  Aron Rotteveel Apr 30 '09 at 8:51
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Just add a whole bunch of spaces to the end of your comment to pad it out to 15 chars, and then it'll get trimmed on output :) –  Mark Henderson Aug 13 '09 at 12:01
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27 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Free

  • Remote Desktop/Terminal Services
    • [+] fast, nothing to install, traps Windows key, doesn't require both parties to connect
    • [-] kicks off the user, more effort required to make available outside of network
  • LogMeIn Free
    • [+] fast, traps Windows key, doesn't require both parties to connect, doesn't kick off user, easy to connect from internet
    • [-] requires install
  • CoPilot (free on weekends)
    • [+] decent performance, excellent setup/connect experience
    • [-] performance not as good as above, only free on weekends
  • ShowMyPC
    • [+] no install, can access over the internet with no configuration in most cases
    • [-] poor performance, difficult setup/connect experience compared to others
  • Crossloop.com
    • [+] Scott likes it
    • [-] I've never used it, so I don't know much about it

For me, if I can install, I use LogMeIn. I use the Window key frequently (Win+E, Win+R, Win+M, Win+Pause, etc) when troubleshooting, so when I lose that key on the remote system, it's a pain. I like the fact that LogMeIn traps that.

When I can't install, I use CoPilot on weekends, and ShowMyPC otherwise. I'll have to look into Crossloop now..

Not Free

If you're paying for it, I've used LogMeIn (Rescue for no-install, Pro for install) and I've found it quite good. One thing the pay-versions have that the free ones don't (as far as I know) is an easy way to copy files from local to remote, and to print across machines as well.

This Wikipedia article might help.

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Could you combo something like TS and Hamachi to do a VPN-like Terminal services? I've personally never done it. –  Dave Rickman Aug 13 '09 at 10:05
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UltraVNC

Key features: File transfer, Video driver, Optional Encryption Plugins, MS Logon, Text chat, Viewer Toolbar, Java Viewer with File Transfer , as well as Auto scaling and Server Side Scaling, Multiple-Monitors-support,Repeater/Proxy-support, Auto reconnection, good performances and tons of other functionalities.

Addons: Repeater , SingleClick generator and NATtoNAT connectors , that help you to easily handle the most complex connection situations.

UltraVNC runs under Windows operating systems (95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, 2003...). Its embedded Java Viewer allows you to connect (and make File transfers) from a simple Web Browser on any Operating system supporting Java (Linux, Mac OS...) to an UltraVNC server.

UltraVNC SC (SingleClick) is a customizable mini UltraVNC server for download. This is very convenient for help desk support because the customer doesn't need any preinstalled remote control software. Just have him or her download UltraVNC SC and start remote controlling. At the end of the remote control session UltraVNC SC deinstalls itself and leaves the computer without additional software.

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UltraVNC is quite an accomplishment, but it's a grade-school finger painting compared to LogMeIn. –  JoshRivers Jun 6 '09 at 11:22
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In our company we use TeamViewer and we're very happy with it. No client installation, just a small-footprint download for the client.

We use it for customer support, but also for training and teamwork.

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Can you change that link to teamviewer.com? I clicked on it and it took me to teamviwer.com (no e). –  Nathan Bedford Apr 30 '09 at 20:27
    
+ for team viewer, i used many applications, and team viewer was the best and simplest. –  Amr ElGarhy May 17 '09 at 21:45
    
I use team viewer its really gud, also it includes vpn and file trnasfer –  Priyan R Jun 1 '09 at 5:15
    
+1 for TV; we use it cross-platform (Mac, Windows) and it works great, included file transfer is quite good. –  slovon Jun 19 '09 at 8:32
    
+1 We only use the host side. Used to allow a vendor to provide support for a software package that drives our business. –  John Gardeniers Aug 13 '09 at 10:59
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I use Crossloop.com - Free Service, works over NAT, VNC at the core for quick stuff.

For sharing screens to up to 16 people, I use http://www.sharedview.com. Also free and lets you send links to sessions in email.

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The best one is RDP. I've tried to use others (mainly VNC variants, including UltraVNC) in some harsh conditions (small bandwidth / high latency) and RDP was the only one which could handle it. And it is already built-in :-)

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RDP is great, except it is inaccessible behind a firewall without adding addtional (VPN, RDP Proxy, etc) infrastructure. Not much good for remote support. Add that there are all sort of weird limitations about session sharing, and there are definitely better tools out there. (Although I agree with you on VNC) –  JoshRivers Jun 6 '09 at 11:25
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I used to use VNC single-click and variants thereof, but the presentation and execution was a little rough around the edges.

Lately I've found "GoToAssist Express" to work like a charm - easy, clean, professional install for the user's end (which is especially helpful for making a good impression on people outside your own organization) and it works on pretty much every Windows version (and it also works for Macs!). It also has "unattended" support, which is sort of like Remote Desktop or GoToMyPC.

Advantages: works really, really well under lots of different PC/Mac configurations; really fast, useful features for remote tech support (file transfer, diagnostic info, reboot & reconnect, multi-monitor support, etc.)

Disadvantages: no Linux support (that I know of... yet) and of course, you have to pay for it... ;-)

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Servers:

  • if screen sharing is specific requirement: VNC (free)
  • otherwise terminal services is good for remote support (free - for windows, includes ability to map local drives to the remote machine)

For connecting to users: Co-Pilot (free during some times, cost is dependant on how the connection is established - great for getting around firewall issues. easy to use for users)

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My two favourites are Copilot and WebEx, which is more of a conference tool but the desktop sharing feature is phenomenal and I have used it purely for remote support purposes. Both are subscription-based.

For a free alternative I have also had good results with good old Remote Assistance via Windows Live Messenger for the occasional help-the-family-member support "emergency".

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webex? lol have to use for work and that thing is garbage. :( –  Chad Grant Apr 30 '09 at 12:11
    
WebEx is terribly slow for remote access, it is better for conducting demos to multiple clients. –  Jack B Nimble Apr 30 '09 at 16:41
    
I found it to be incredibly fast for desktop sharing, even with a Skype voice conference in the background. The physical distance separation in most cases when I have used it is over 10k kilometers, and with quite average ADSL connections. This is why I described it as phenomenal :-) Maybe you used an older version? –  Wayne Koorts Apr 30 '09 at 17:27
    
I've used Webex before and am grateful I no longer need to. Slow, unreliable, clunky and difficult or the inexperienced. –  John Gardeniers Aug 13 '09 at 11:02
    
Weird that you had problems, I use it at least once a week with multiple people and it's fantastic. –  Wayne Koorts Aug 13 '09 at 19:01
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Just for completeness - I made good experiences using TightVNC. It's free, lightweight and available for Windows and Unix.

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The absolute best remote desktop server / client app I've used is NX by No Machine. There is a free version and a corporate version which allows more users etc.

It is crazy fast over a network, which makes it perfect for Remote Desktoping in from home to work. I use it from my home box -> wireless -> slow internet -> VPN -> work and it runs almost as fast as if it was native.

The only downside is that (for Linux at least) it cannot connect to an existing session, it must create its own.

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For connecting to servers:

  • Terminal Services (without screen-sharing)
  • Any VNC variant (with screen-sharing)

For connecting to users:
I have experience with different applications:

At work I use Netviewer One2Meet, actually works very well for screen-sharing/collaboration purposes. One of their nicer features are that it works well with dual-screen setups (drag the vieuwer-icon to another screen to show that screen) and that it works both-ways if you want it to.

At home I usually use LogMeIn since it works from within a web-browser and allows me to log in to my pc at home from everywhere without any hassle.

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We use ScriptLogic which includes a remote desktop component that I believe is primarily based on the same engine that LogMeIn uses (which I use for personal use)

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Late reply - We use UltraVNC for internal use - and Mikogo.com for external support. Mikogo is amazing. Dead simple. Free. No extra LARGE downloads (just a quick install that removes itself after use). Uses simple session IDs. Works with Win7 great! Try it out for yourself, we love it!

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We use IslLight.com, which is great.

It works like CoPilot.com (which I don't know), but you have the option to show your desktop to the client, as well as seeing and remoting a clients machine.

I belive that there is both chat and VoIp support.

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We have used IntelliAdmin for years. Its like you're sitting right in front of the remote machine and have taken over the users keyboard and mouse.

IntelliAdmin requires no 3rd party software installation for their LAN edition, just a port (2790) in the firewall which we open before deploying all machines.

I believe we paid $100 back in the day for 2 licenses.

http://www.intelliadmin.com

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I'm biased as I work for them but I use Yuuguu for remote support of Windows (or Mac or Linux!) machines.

It offers screen sharing & remote control, in built IM (with integration with MSN, GTalk, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo Chat and Skype). There is free version which offers unlimited sharing between up to five Yuuguu clients at any one time but for remote support, I would have thought it would be mainly 1:1 sharing. Our aim is to make Yuuguu "just work" so there should be no firewall or proxy problems to connect to between machines.

http://www.yuuguu.com

Regards, Phill

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You can also use Windows Netmeeting if you need both parties to see what is going on. It is free and included with windows, and allows more than 2 parties to participate.

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On the free side, we've used Zolved (zolved.com) to connect to remote users. There is no client or server to "install" anywhere. It also handles NAT transversal, etc.

From what I can tell, it's based off of UltraVNC and of course has all the pitfalls that UltraVNC may have. In my experience, however, it works pretty good.

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At my job, for Windows we use CA Remote Control.

It's very easy to use once installed on both parties. -It's not free.

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Oracle's Collaboration Suite has a Real-Time Collaboration component that supports desktop sharing. However, OCS itself is probably EOL'd by now and surely costs $$$...

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The only tool that is better then Remote Desktop, I know is Radmin. Its not free, but performance and options are the best IMO. There is 30 day evaluation so you can check it out.

I tried all VNC products I found and most were very slow/unusable for me.

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At the firm where I work, I use a free tool called Gencontrol. It allows you to temporarily install a VNC server on a target machine that you have Administrator rights on, then immediately connect to it. When you close the session, the server is removed.

The interaction works exactly how you would expect VNC to work, and allows you and the user you are supporting to share the screen and both see what is happening.

http://www.gensortium.com/products/gencontrol.html

Sadly, it looks like the official website for Gencontrol is no longer available. However, you can view the website and even download a copy of the software from Archive.org.

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I have a situation where all IT support staff use Linux but need to help 'hand hold' Windows XP/Vista users all over the world. Usually, the users are behind an office NAT.

TeamViewer (proprietary but offered at no charge) has worked rather well for this. Its easy enough to run the viewer (even works on Linux under WINE) and join a remote session with reasonable speed, even though a NAT. We're even able to help the small percentage of MAC users who are often telecommuters.

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We moved from RDP to GoToAssist Express because:

  1. We can sit and watch exactly what the user is doing and its in "real time" If there is a delay at the user's PC, we see the delay as well.

  2. The users have control by having to launch the support session and they can terminate it when they want to.

  3. There is a built in chat and file transfer app which I like.

The cost is reasonable for a company. I highly recommend this solution.

Regards...Michael

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Windows remote assistance

Pros

  • Free
  • Built in to Windows XP and 7
  • Share screen, keyboard, and mouse

Cons

  • If you are the person assisting someone else you cannot make the window full screen
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RHUB is one of the best remote support and screen sharing solutions. While it comes in two different appliance for remote access and web conferencing, the remote access device also has some features of screen sharing. Have a look at here http://www.rhubcom.com

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I had success recently using TeamViewer for both speech and screen sharing from USA to Dubai with some slow wifi networks in between when Skype and several other such tools would barely work.

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