Remote Access Options

Posted by Dataprise Digest - Weekly Tech Insight on 11/11/10 9:08 AM

Remote Access Options

The Telework Research Network estimates that 20 to 30 million people currently work from home at least one day a week. In fact, there are an increasing number of workers who say their workday begins before they set foot in the office – conducting work responsibilities from their home computers or smartphones. Mobility, especially in the business sector, is an expectation for many and for that reason there are many applications that provide access to the home-based computers from anywhere in the world.

Here are a few of those applications:


GoToMyPC allows a user to remotely access their computer through a web browser. While there is no free version of GoToMyPC, there is an available free 30 day trial. GoToMyPC host software works on both Windows and Macs and there are client versions for Windows, Macs, Linux, and Solaris.

Many options for remote PC access require considerable technical expertise to set IP addresses and modify network firewalls. However, GoToMyPC avoids these restrictions by utilizing a Web-based interface, making installation easy. The user needs to install self-installing software on the host machine (the machine the user wants to access remotely); then the computer can then be accessed from anywhere with a Web browser.


LogMeIn, similar to GoToMyPC, offers a free version to users. It too, requires a program to be installed on the host machine, but the host can be accessed by any Web browser on the client machine. File transfers between host and client are available only with LogMeIn Pro. The Pro version also allows for file syncing between computers, which is a convenient feature if one is frequently modifying work files remotely. There is also a free application to access LogMeIn from iPhones or other digital phones. LogMeIn is a valuable product to consider for beginners and basic users who don’t need many of the advanced features.

PC Anywhere

Developed by Symantec, PC Anywhere is one of the oldest remote access options available; it also has the benefit of the Symantec support infrastructure for customer assistance. PC Anywhere is a one-time software installation rather than a subscription service. While the product costs approximately $200, it is a non-recurring fee and is therefore less expensive than subscription services. There is no free trial available, so the user will have to purchase the software to test it out.

PC Anywhere offers tools that may be better suited for business clients and large scale usage than for the typical home user. For instance, there is a session logging feature that records all access instances. This is an effective feature for corporate monitoring but not necessary for a single user.

PC Anywhere also requires some technical know-how because it requires a direct connection between client and host. This means that computers behind a firewall must be specifically configured for use and any router must also be modified to allow forwarding. These adjustments are often beyond the ability of many home users.

Remote Desktop

Since the development of XP, every version of Windows includes Remote Desktop Connection. The user is able to remotely access any Windows machine that is running Terminal Services. Terminal Services can run on any version of Windows XP, the Ultimate, Enterprise and Business editions of Windows Vista, and Windows 7 Professional and higher. The latest version (version 7.0) of Terminal Services is called Remote Desktop Services.

The user logs in as if he was sitting at the home-based computer. A window opens that shows the desktop and allows the user to fully control the host computer. It is important to not use any version of Remote Desktop that is lower than 6.0 because that is the version that introduced Network Level Authentication (NLM) which greatly improves the security of the connection. There are Remote Desktop clients for the Mac and for smartphones like the RDP app for the iPhone.

Virtual Network Computing

Similar to Remote Desktop, Virtual Network Computing (VNC) has greater platform independence. Therefore, a VNC user can connect to a VNC server no matter what operating system either program is using as a platform. There are many types of VNC clients and servers, and a suggested one for the Windows platform is TightVNC. There are also VNC clients for many smartphones.

Utilizing a remote access option provides a user with increased flexibility and increased productivity; there is no need to be tied to the office.

Topics: Virtualization, Innovation, Mobile