Have you ever heard this somewhat different Christmas quote before:
And it happened at that time of year when all daughters and sons returned to the place of their birth to solve their parents’ IT problems”.
This is certainly a familiar situation, especially for the younger generation: as soon as you buy your IT-inexperienced parents or grandparents a PC, a MAC computer or a smartphone with Internet access, calls for help start rushing in. From then on, daily IT support is something you have to get used to. Usually, it’s a difficult task over the phone, so most likely you’re looking at a day trip to another town to solve their computer issues. Luckily, there is proven remote maintenance software that makes it easy for you to get things done.
Remote maintenance software: the remedy for many real and fake PC problems
Remote maintenance software are programs with which you can access and remotely control any other computer from your system, provided both are connected to the Internet. This type of access or remote control of a computer is also called remote access. Remote maintenance tools are therefore also called remote desktop applications or remote desktop management programs.
If your mom once again thinks she has deleted the Internet, dad has logged on somewhere “by accident” or your grandparents do not turn on the computer anymore because they’re afraid of downloading an update, these tools can save the day. All you’ll need to do is run the software and solve all your folks’ computer problems remotely, from your PC or phone.
Top 3 requirements for remote maintenance programs
Remote maintenance programs / remote desktop applications consist of two parts:
- A client (also called viewer) located on the helper’s PC
- The host, which is installed on the PC of the person seeking help, i.e. the user
There are many programs and tools that offer these services. Some separate host and client and you have to install different software. But there is also software – TeamViewer for example – that can be used either way by default.
Below you’ll find three requirements that good remote maintenance software / remote desktop programs should meet.
Requirement no. 1: ease of use
Establishing a secure connection for remote management should be quick and straightforward. There are two types of connections: Ad hoc connections and permanent connections.
Ad hoc network connection:
With an ad hoc connection, the person seeking help must actively participate in setting up the connection, which requires a basic understanding of remote maintenance and IT. The person seeking help must open the remote maintenance software (if necessary download or install it beforehand) and provide the helper with an access number – e.g. by telephone or chat. The assisting person uses this access number to connect to the PC of the person concerned. Usually, the person seeking help must then approve the connection.
Permanent network connection:
With a permanent connection, the remote maintenance software is permanently installed on the PC that needs to be maintained. The software is then in autostart and is launched together with the operating system. By entering a password, the same management software can then be used to access that PC from another computer.
The permanent connection remote maintenance type is particularly suitable for people who are not very familiar with IT – and who might not be able to cope with an ad hoc connection, or for users who do not want to worry about maintenance.
It is particularly helpful if remote maintenance or remote access can also be performed using the current version of a common browser (Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Windows Explorer, Windows Edge). In that case, it won’t always be necessary to install the software on both computers.
Requirement no. 2: mobile access
Since it is difficult to predict when a call for help will be received, it is especially important to be able to use remote maintenance programs as smartphone and tablet apps, especially for private use. Apps are usually available for all mobile operating systems like Apple iOS, Google Android, BlackBerry OS, Android, Windows Phone and others. They usually work exactly like desktop apps. However, remote access via smartphone is highly dependent on the quality of the Internet connection. A poor network or a weak WLAN makes remote maintenance a real struggle. A fast connection is always an advantage.
However, some remote maintenance tools recognize when help is provided via mobile devices. In order to use the available bandwidth as effectively as possible, these programs actively help by reducing the quality and resolution of images, for example, or even by not transferring the desktop background image.
Requirement no. 3: Helpful additional functions
Beyond the pure remote maintenance there are several useful functions that remote maintenance software offers. Here is a small selection of features that we think are particularly handy:
- Integrated chat function: This allows help seekers and helpers to communicate directly with each other, without having to use third-party programs in a separate window (Skype) or another device (WhatsApp).
- Function / module for file exchange: The same applies here. If data and files can be moved back and forth in the remote maintenance tool, there is no need to switch to e-mail or cloud storage.
- Save the session as a video file: In this case, if the problem reoccurs, the person seeking help will immediately have personalized video instructions to solve the problem on their own.
Our recommendation: TeamViewer
“The most appealing overall package” is the conclusion of Heise in a comparative test of several remote maintenance solutions and they recommend TeamViewer. This tool manages the balancing act between simple operation and extensive service features. Above all, the Quick Support of TeamViewer is excellently suited for establishing ad hoc connections even for those with little IT knowledge. In addition, TeamViewer is free for private use. For business users, the TeamViewer license is not free of charge – however, the paid version also includes lots more features. Companies usually have the opportunity to obtain a free trial version for themselves and their customers and to try it out before making a commitment.
Also included in the First Aid Kit, the first aid kit for data loss and Windows problems, TeamViewer is a solution for accessing and controlling remote computers. Thus, even inexperienced PC users – who in the case of a Windows crash would certainly not know what to do – can be competently helped via secure remote maintenance. A plus for your peace of mind!
Of course, Team Viewer is not the only solution and provider of remote help. Here is a small list of other popular remote maintenance software solutions for users and operators as well as small businesses and larger enterprises, for Microsoft PCs, Mac machines and the Linux platform – without claiming to be complete:
- Chrome Remote Desktop
- Ammyy Admin
- VNC / Real VNC / UltraVNC / ThinVNC