It is possible to control computers in another remote location even if it is located at the opposite side of the world by using a PC that is equipped with the software and an Internet connection. Fortunately the software to access a remote computer has been greatly simplified over the years solving many common problems such setting up dynamic DNS service to automatically point to your changing IP address, port forwarding, firewall configuration and etc.
Remote access software can be installed for long term usage which administrators do to access their servers from home or another location to perform maintenance or troubleshooting. However, if you need to temporarily and quickly access your friend or relative’s computer to help configure a software or fix a minor problem, it doesn’t make sense to go through all the trouble in installing and configuring a full blown remote access software. A much easier way around this is to use the dedicated remote access software applications that are made to quickly and easily provide short term online support. Here are our top 8 picks that are free to use.
8. avast! Remote Assistance
Since avast! version 7, a new feature called “Remote Assistance” has been included in their software which means this feature is only exclusively available to users who have avast! antivirus or Internet Security programs installed. To access this feature from avast! 8, go to the maintenance tab and click on Remote Assistance found on the menu at the left hand side. There are 2 huge buttons either to allow remote control or control remote computer.
Clicking the Allow Remote Control button will generate an 8 character code which is to be given to the controller. The controller will then click on the Control Remote Computer button, enter the code to the textbox and click Connect.
At the bottom of the viewer you will find 3 buttons which is to send the Ctrl+Alt+Del combination key, launch file transfer window and view in full screen. Although not mentioned anywhere, we think that avast! Remote Assistance is using TightVNC because the File Transfer window looks exactly the same. After testing avast! Remote Assistance , we found that the transfer and refresh rate is quite slow.
7. Chrome Remote Desktop
Chrome Remote Desktop by Google is a free app that allows remote control right from the Chrome web browser or Chromebook. Although it is useful, there are some requirements such as both users required to have the Chrome browser installed, signed in to their Google account to download and install the 22.6MB app, and finally grant the Remote Desktop app permission to know who you are on Google which some users who are concerned about their privacy may not be comfortable with.
Once Chrome Remote Desktop is installed, the usage is pretty easy. The computer that will be remotely controlled will need to click on the red colored Share button to obtain the 12 digit access code and give it to the person who will be controlling the computer. As for the controller, click on the Access button and enter the code followed by clicking Connect.
Chrome Remote Desktop is only capable of controlling the computer remotely but without any fancy features such as file transfer, VOIP and etc.
CrossLoop’s software works just about the same as the rest on this page but one thing that made it stand out is the marketplace where one can provide and receive computer remote online support for a fee using CrossLoop. To connect, both users who want to access and share will have to download and install CrossLoop. The computer that will be controlled will have to go to the Share tab to get the 12 digit code from the Access Code textbox and give it to the controller.
The controller will then enter the given Access Code in the Access tab and click connect. Once the connection has been initiated, the shared computer will also need to manually approve the remote access before the connection is established. CrossLoop uses TightVNC Server 18.104.22.168 to share and UltraVNC Viewer 22.214.171.124 to access.
CrossLoop is placed at the 6th spot because it requires installation when most people doesn’t like to install additional software that is only being used temporarily. The 2 minutes share timeout is sometimes not enough to get connected especially for someone who doesn’t know anything about the computer. During testing we also experienced intermittent connectivity problems to their relay servers. File manager is also not available on the free version.
Although Firnass is still in Alpha/Beta status, we will still include it on our top 5 tools to provide remote assistance because it is very small at only 668KB in size, free, runs on Windows, Mac and Linux because of Java, uses their own screen sharing protocols unlike most that uses VNC or RDP, chat and VOIP support, file transfer, run a remote command, session recording and many more to come on future version.
The steps to connect is slightly different from the rest. Firstly a connection will have to be made from either party by providing the 6 digit ID and clicking the Connect button.
A new window will open on both parties upon successful connection. The computer that wants to be controlled with have to click on the play button which will only appear upon moving the mouse cursor to the small black screen.
Once the screen is shared, the viewer will have remote access to the computer. The toolbar with options will be revealed when the mouse cursor touches the arrow pointing downwards that is located at the top of the viewer.