Remote Support Solutions

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saguaro

Active member
Oct 22, 2020
31
4
So after all these months of pandemic, I'm finally looking at some remote support options. I need something for "casual" consulting purposes, so paid, but not too much. Need a ongoing access to a few machines. One tech license.

Some months ago, i'd narrowed down to Splashtop and Zoho Assist. I noticed @Steve 's recommendation of Remote Utilities. I had considered them before, but discarded because their parent company is based in Russia. Hmmm.

Any recommendations out there or other thoughts on these options?
 
www.ShowMyPC.com/

I have been using Show My PC for a few years and I'm generally satisfied. My end is via a Windows OS while clients are primarily Windows with a few MAC's. If I recall, TightVNC is at the core of the service.

I take the host EXE from my ShowMyPC account page and place it on my web server in an easy location for a client to visit, download, run (while I'm on the phone).

The host software can run in single session or always on / reboot capable.

I'm interested in this thread as I wish to expand to be able to remote into IOS and Android mobile devices - possibly from a mobile device - something I do not think SMPC yet handles.
 
TeamViewer is cool. Be ware it tries to install a service in the PC that's always waiting for connections. I prefer to kill that and only initiate connections manually. It's free for non commercial use. Don't know about the paid part. GoToMyPC which I think is owned by LogMeIn and Citrix are big names in the biz. Haven't tried them though.

I think Zoom can be used for this purpose but I'm not sure I trust it for that. Haven't tried though.

Ron
 
Windows 10 has the "Allow Remote Assistance" feature... I don't know if that is limited to Home/Pro or not. It's theoretically free, at least.

One of your considerations needs to be how easy the service is to use for clients. If they need to have exceptions in the router or firewall, then that makes it much more difficult to make that connection (either initially or subsequently.) On the other hand, having something always running and potentially accepting a connection is a bit of a security nightmare. I suspect some of the tools out there may use UPnP but that has its risks also. A more secure option would be some service that uses a 3rd party proxy server which requires both ends to run a tool that makes an outbound connection to the proxy.
 
Both of the last comments are part of why I LOOOOVE TeamViewer. Yes, I pay for a licensed version. But I also spend about 1h to 1h30m PER DAY on there with clients. It works great. I DO use the unattended feature on some machines, not all of them.

Some times, you just need a tool that lets you quickly connect and disconnect. Even letting the user have the power to let you in (or not) by terminating the application.

I was thinking back and found that TeamViewer was one of the rare applications I haven't heard @Steve mention about having disastrous or nightmarish security messes
 
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I don't trust Windows built in RDP. Didn't @Steve say that's insecure? After so many podcasts, it's hard to remember.

Ron
 
I use Quick Assist, the inbuilt Windows support tool. However as my users aren't local admins I run into an issue with assisting remote user when I need to enter admin credentials - Windows doesn't allow this, I get a blanked out screen on my side. I have the same issue with Any Desk.

Any suggestions on a tool that will allow me to do this - not Logmein (I have a 3rd party Vendor that already uses this)
 
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TeamViewer is cool. Be ware it tries to install a service in the PC that's always waiting for connections. I prefer to kill that and only initiate connections manually. It's free for non commercial use. Don't know about the paid part. GoToMyPC which I think is owned by LogMeIn and Citrix are big names in the biz. Haven't tried them though.

I think Zoom can be used for this purpose but I'm not sure I trust it for that. Haven't tried though.

Ron
I agree Ron that TeamViewer is cool in as much as I was able to provide full remote support for my 102 year old father's win 10 pc even in manual mode where he had to pass me a code over the phone, i.e. secure but simple.
 
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TeamViewer is cool. Be ware it tries to install a service in the PC that's always waiting for connections. I prefer to kill that and only initiate connections manually. It's free for non commercial use. Don't know about the paid part. GoToMyPC which I think is owned by LogMeIn and Citrix are big names in the biz. Haven't tried them though.
Both of the last comments are part of why I LOOOOVE TeamViewer. Yes, I pay for a licensed version. But I also spend about 1h to 1h30m PER DAY on there with clients. It works great. I DO use the unattended feature on some machines, not all of them.
Some colleagues recommended TeamViewer in the past--like many years ago. I discarded it because the $50/mo entry price is a little steep for my level of use. Do you know of any discounts for single user plan?

Appreciate the many responses here. But again, this needs to be a paid plan for business use. (Wow, connectWise has a free, biz-use 3-device unattended plan! worth trying.) And not a windows (-only) solution... And I need both remote support functions (starting sessions) and the ability to install a management component, or at least unattended support. A lot of solutions at lower price points offer one or the other.
 
I don't trust Windows built in RDP. Didn't @Steve say that's insecure? After so many podcasts, it's hard to remember.

Ron

Steve uses RDP to connect to his servers, but he does it over a VPN. Exposing RDP to the internet is what I think you are referring to which obviously should not be done, but is.
 
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I remember when LogMeIn was free, I had about 60 computers in the 'free' portal, then it became paid. I switched to Splashtop and I am very happy with Splashtop. I like that different packages can be deployed, my default package is a basic splashtop installer with the ability for me to NOT require logon creds. The remote computers have credentials, but I am able to login w/o the user granting permission on their end. If I am doing one time support, I tell the client to delete the splashtop streamer app from their computer, which removes it from my dashboard and that if they decide not to delete it, I will delete it on my end. I can always send them another URL if another connection is needed in the future.

I am not a fan of team viewer, it seemed that I always needed to update my end or downgrade my end to match the client. Not a fan of that and I'm not sure why TV thought that was a good idea.
 
For personal machines I use TighVNC to access on my LAN or over VPN (IPSEC between two homes, for example, or OpenVPN if I'm away from home).
 
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The best i've found so far is an open source solution by an engineer at Intel expanding on their work with Intel AMT/VPro technology it's called Meshcentral and is fully open source and in active development with new features almost daily.
Meshcentral and Mesh Commander Blog site https://meshcentral2.blogspot.com/
Thank you. I am looking. But this seems to be limited in the remote support session area. Already working with Apple Silicon though.
 
I used TeamViewer a lot and would not recommend it. Long stories. Also used GoToMyPC and that would be my last choice. RealVNC is fine, there is both a free and commercial version. The commercial version is either inny (open a port in firewall) or outty (controlled pc phones home to RealVNC). The free version is only outty. It does well with UAC prompts, one of my ongoing issues with TeamViewer. RealVNC can also run un-attended or require a person at each end. Its flexible.
 
TeamViewer has a bad reputation about security. There was a thread this week about users possibly being hacked. They had a "breach" or something in 2016 and they didn't immediately acknowledge it but only did when called out by the media (IIRC Bleeping Computer).

The Remote Utilities that Steve mentioned in the podcast seems to be a good piece of software. I have yet to have a chance to use it, but it seems like a good deal.
 
TeamViewer has a bad reputation about security. There was a thread this week about users possibly being hacked. They had a "breach" or something in 2016 and they didn't immediately acknowledge it but only did when called out by the media (IIRC Bleeping Computer).

The Remote Utilities that Steve mentioned in the podcast seems to be a good piece of software. I have yet to have a chance to use it, but it seems like a good deal.
Not that everything Russia is bad, but that's where Remote Utilities is based.
 
The one i use is "Screen connect" by connectwise. Been using it for over 3 years now. I came from Gotoassist, and this is so much better. The Price is $500 a year so I don't know if that is more than you want to spend.
 
RemoteDesktop.Google.Com

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Pros:
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  • Trusted well known source.
  • No fees.
  • Client access from any browser with no software installation requirement. (no client-software install available or needed)
  • Can be setup for non-interactive access; intended only for use with personally owned Desktops/Laptops but can be used for others via shared account.
  • Very lightweight server program.
  • Very reliable/stable server program.
  • Individual PCs are assigned GUIDs in the URL, so can be bookmarked for quicker access.
  • Not currently flagged by anti-malware software. (that I'm aware/exprienced)
  • Features for matching remote display to your Window and resizing your window to remote display.
  • Integrated file send/retrieve feature. (tool is limited in scope)
  • Operates through NAT without issue; with realization that this requires Google as the middleman.

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Cons:
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  • Must create outbound rule for web browser client; allowing UDP over multiple ports.**
  • Individuals receiving/giving support must have a Google Account. (helps deal with and prevent abuse of the tool)
  • Non-techies still have trouble understanding how to retrieve the code; ESPECIALLY if they miss or deny the one-time browser extension prompt. (ChrEdge wisely disables extensions by default; requires more steps to enable.)
  • "Give Support" mode, server program (browser extension) on remote computer doesn't allow easy elevation. (Windows UAC has always wisely prevented non-elevated interaction with elevated.)
  • Doesn't warn you when remote display is reconfigured and post disconnect, doesn't always undo config change on remote display.
  • Under "Remote Access", "Set up remote access", begins by forcing install of unnecessary/limited browser extension instead of presenting option of extension or/and OS-server.
  • Impossible to eliminate Google as the middleman; with realization that this helps limit potential for abuse.
  • No ability to setup non-interactive access to third-party devices.
  • Server can only be accessed from one client at a time; no notification as to reason for a drop.


Unconfirmed:
  • Server doesn't stick to TCP over 443 which may create issue in some special cases. (after authentication, UDP is the more efficient protocol though)
  • No clipboard sharing for Windows/OS-X.
  • Doesn't leave port open to port-scans. (shouldn't need to given how it functions)
  • Only works with Windows and OS-X; no Android and iOS support. (???)



During the pandemic, we (family) were kicked out of the extended care facility where my Nephew stays. He has ALS and can only move his eyes at this point. (his mind is all there but can't move his body) So I installed Google's Remote Desktop tool to the computer in his room and are able to pop-in at any given time. To check on him and communicate, we do things such as turn on the Windows Camera app and put up Notepad. I also set Skype to auto-answer and being multi-platform, can be called from any Windows/OS-X computer or Android/Apple/Windows phone.

I've also used the tool for remote support with a handful of people. TeamViewer does have Android and iOS support.


** I generally only want to allow browsers access to TCP 80, 443, 21 and 22 on IPs outside of LAN.