Four great tools that allow you to access your work computer from anywhere, collaborate via screen sharing or provide remote support.
Most of us work from home or on the road to some extent these days. Whether that’s a formal telecommuting arrangement, on a business trip or just catching up after hours, we need to have access to our work files and applications from anywhere.
Online applications and storage services such as Xero and Dropbox can help, but what about those applications and files that you can’t access via the cloud?
Remote access software is the solution, enabling you to effectively gain control of your work computer from anywhere – and more. Not only does it provide access to a computer outside the network, but it also allows colleagues to collaborate via screen sharing and the IT team to fix problems remotely when they arise.
Here are four remote access solutions that will make it a whole lot easier for staff to work remotely without losing productivity.
Before LogMeIn acquired Citrix's GoTo suite of business applications, LogMeIn Pro was the company's primary remote access application. Even though the company has added a whole range of other applications to its lineup, LogMeIn Pro remains the simplest and probably most effective solution for small businesses, because it's simple to set up and provides access to everything you'd need at your computer, while you're away from the office.
The solution comprises a web-based interface to remotely monitor and access the computer, and a desktop application on which you access the remote computer for a native experience. Not only can you access all the applications and files you need to use while away from your desk, you can also share your screen with others – a great solution if you work in a team and quickly need to show a colleague a file or quickly demonstrate something to them.
LogMeIn's main features are access to applications, files and the computer's system, remote printing, multiple monitor support and it even offers a terabyte of storage as standard. It integrates seamlessly with LastPass and is set to take onboard many of the features of Citrix's GoToMyPC in future, making it a powerful remote access option indeed.
LogMeIn is supported across Mac, Windows and iOS making it a flexible option for not only remote workers, but field workers too.
From US$249.99 per user per year.
ConnectWise Control takes remote access to the next level, because it's designed for IT support to fix problems on user computers. For example, it allows administrators to restart a computer in safe mode, upgrade a system remotely, uninstall applications and programs and rename a computer if needed.
Because of its far-reaching features, users can opt to access ConnectWise Control in four different ways, including a Code Session which generates a custom security code, Invitation Session, where the host has to invite the client to share their computer, a Published Session, which is accessed via a public link or an unattended session, which will mostly be used by system admins to access an unattended computer using a client.
Aside from its support features, standard remote access features are available, including drag and drop file transfers, shared screen, screen recording, multiple monitor, wake-on-LAN and Voice-over-IP chat.
It can be accessed via Windows, Apple, Linux, Android, Mac or iOS, making it a flexible option, plus it can be white-labelled if you'd rather it appear as though it has been created by your organisation rather than ConnectWise.
From US$228 per user per year.
Splashtop offers a whole range of features, including file transfer, remote printing, chat with the user at the remote computer and an excellent user management console that allows you to manage the permissions of people in your organisation and how remote access can be accessed – choose from device authentication, two-step verification, or multiple 2nd-level password options.
All of this is provided hand in hand with the app's TLS and 256-bit AES encryption. It'll even log all activity so if you discover something malicious, you'll be able to trace the source.
It works with Splashtop Streamer installed on the target computer and Splashtop business app on the device you're using to access the host and although isn't as simple to set up as some of the other remote desktop options, once it's ready to go, you won't have to repeat the set up.
One benefit of Splashtop is that it's available across all platforms – Windows, OS X, Linux, Android and iOS, or from a Chrome browser – meaning it's a great option for those who don't necessarily always have access to a laptop or desktop computer.
Splashtop is available as a free trial for six months, which provides a decent amount of time for you to try it out to see if it suits your business, before committing to the license fee.
From US$60 per user per year.
Windows Remote Desktop Connection
The one bonus of Windows Remote Desktop Connection is that it's built into Windows computers already, so there's no need to install it or even stump up extra cash in order for you or your employees to access their computer from home.
As a result, Windows Remote Desktop requires very little setup. You just need to open up the application on both PCs, enable remote connections by a particular Windows user using the Remote tab on the host computer, and then enter the IP address of the computer you're connecting to from the client side.
Before starting a connection for the first time, you will need to ensure your router can utilise port forwarding so a computer from outside the network can get in.
Once this is done, you can transfer files, print to a local printer and access the files on the host computer pretty easily. Windows Remote Desktop doesn't have the same functionality as many of the paid for options, but as a freebie pre-installed on Windows machines, it's a decent option if there's nothing too advanced you need it for.