Recommend Remote Control Software for Windows 7/10 PCs

Hi folks - I’m a former IT guy. But it’s been a few years. I run Win10 Home on all my gear.

I am the tech support for my 95yo MIL. She has a PC with Win7Pro that she gets along with OK. Her fading memory / mental capacity is such that she could never adapt to a newer OS; it would simply be all new and totally unusable every day. But she can get along OK with what she’s got; emailing, buying stuff at a couple familiar websites, checking the weather, playing her games, etc.

Until she does something random and her PC is “broken” until I can visit to fix it. Last time she somehow got 50 tabs all open to gmail in her browser. On the old slow PC, that pegged her CPU for several minutes when Chrome started. And of course it re-opened the same tabs if you closed Chrome & tried again or rebooted and tried again. (Yes, I’ve since reconfigured her Chrome to reopen to a single blank tab on restart; one silly goof down, just 57,435 to go! Bless her heart! :wink: )

Ref COVID and the challenges getting me into her old farts’ home to fix this stuff I’d like to pre-install and pre-configure some remote control software so I can do these trivial fixes for her promptly on request.

I brought my laptop to her place last week & tried experimenting with Win7’s built in “remote assistance” feature. It works and my Win10 remotes in just fine. At least when I’m already on her LAN. But she’d need to start that app, have it save a connection file someplace on disk, then start GMail and email me the file as an attachment. That’s way too many steps for her on a good day on a good PC, much less on a bad day on an ailing PC.

We’re both get internet via Comcast cable, so both her & my internet-facing IP addresses are dynamic. I can control all aspects of firewalling at my end, but her cable modem/router is a locked down blackbox I have no access into.

So: I'd like "free", but I can stand to spend some money if needed. I want something I can install on her machine that I can connect to remotely. Ideally with no more interaction at her end from her than clicking "OK" to a popup telling her it's me, not some Bulgarian criminal. Which identity proof would be enforced somehow by software, like my end delivering a certificate or pre-arranged secret or something. If her end has to initiate the connection that's not ideal, but is tolerable.

I Googled around and found either SME products for $150/yr/station or products to install on your Android / IOS phone / tablet to control a PC. Not my mission.


I use Teamviewer to support my mother. It’s free for non-commercial use.

There’s a few programs which do this, like ammyy, TeamViewer, and GoToMyPC. The dynamic IPs aren’t a problem. You don’t connect directly to the remote PC. The programs make outbound connections to an external server which routes the traffic together. There’s no firewall issues or anything to worry about. The programs typically have a way where they are always running and wait for a connection. So they’d always be running and your MIL would just have to click OK when you connect. But keep in mind that they are always running and may be a security risk. If some hacker figures out the connection info, your MIL might click OK without realizing it isn’t you. But once you connect, you see the whole desktop and can interact with it just as if you were on her computer.

I’m in the exact same situation. My almost-100-year-old Mom is in lockdown at the assisted living center. Fortunately I was able to contract with the IT guy there to install TeamViewer on her computer and give me the default remote-control password. I then connected and immediately changed the password to something that I (and my brother) can remember. It’s been working great…as long as Mom remembers to turn on her computer. It requires no interaction from her for me to connect to her computer. We’re both running Win 10.

Another recommendation for Teamviewer. I have worked with it for many years professionally and privately and almost never had troubles. It’s the easiest remote software to use, install and configure I’ve worked with.

I did not know that was an option. I’ve been connecting to my mother’s computer only after she read out the passcode to me.

You can set an option “start with boot up” or some such and set a fixed password.

Yes, this is correct. I forgot to mention that option. Apologies.

Here is the explanation on how to do this, from the manufacturer.

Thanks all. Color me sold on Teamviewer!

Later this week I’ll get over the and do the install.

Autostart plus a 40 character PW generated by my password manager ought to be good enough to keep the Bulgarians at bay.

Sorry I’m late to the party but something like VNC would work as well. The licence isn’t going to break the bank either.

A little late to the party, but one more hat in the TeamViewer ring.

Hi all - OP here.

I did get over to her place today and installed TeamViewer there, got it rigged to autostart under the admin account, and gave it a world-class password. I did test connects from my laptop, and even a test reboot & reconnect. It passed all the tests with flying colors.

Thanks y’all! Mom says thanks too, though she has no idea what we’re talking about. :wink:

Great! It doesn’t have to be just for fixing problems. It will also be useful when you want to help her start Skype or something as well. Like, the next time your wife calls her, you can start video conferencing on her computer so they can video chat. But the downside is getting constant calls to fix every little thing. Sometimes I wish I didn’t tell my in-laws that I could log in to fix their computer…

Well, the thing is, before I installed Teamviewer on my mother’s PC, she used to call me and I lead her through all the steps to fix the problem, in the hope that she’ll learn and will be able to solve it herself the next time. Didn’t work, though she’s quite good for her age (81) with her computer, some things just don’t stick long enough. So when she calls now, I just say “Wait, I’ll log into to your computer”, do my thing and get it fixed much faster than before. We’re both very happy with this.


20 years ago I could patiently teach her to use new programs or new features of existing programs and she could run with that as long as she used the new knowledge regularly.

Not anymore. Now every time GMail renames a button or changes an icon it’s a learning crisis.

Too late for the OP, but here’s why I recommend against using TeamViewer.

I used TeamViewer for years to help my aged parents, because the company says it’s free for non-commercial use, which mine decidedly was.

Then last summer TeamViewer suddenly sent me a message saying they had detected that I was using it for commercial purposes (I wasn’t) and shut my account down unless I bought a license for (I think) $50 a month. I tried several times to appeal, or even get an explanation, but got no response at all from them. On Googling, I found that they had done the same to many people.

So you may find at some time in the future that you’re shut out of it unless you pay lots of money.

I have since switched to Remote Utilities, which I find quite satisfactory and is really free.

Thank you. Forewarned is forearmed. Sadly I think my need will evaporate within a couple of years tops. So I may skate long enough before they pull their cute trick on me.

BTW, I sympathize with the OP and @EinsteinsHund on the declining abilities of our parents. Mine are 91 years old now, and even though my mother has been using personal computers for more than 40 years (her first was a Kaypro II that ran C/PM, before there were IBM PCs and DOS), she now gets flustered by minor things, and for instance doesn’t always get the distinction between the browser and the operating system.

It’s frustrating, but I try to remember that there will be a day, not too long from now, when I would give anything to be able to help her with some stupid computer problem.

ETA: I didn’t see @LSLGuy’s reply when I posted mine.

This happened to me as well with my in-laws. I think they base it on your usage pattern rather than whether it’s actually commercial use or not. When TeamViewer blocked my in-laws, I was helping them with a lot of computer stuff and we were connected a few hours a week. I think that if your use is light and intermittent, you will probably be okay. But like was said above, there are many other options if that were to happen.

Wow. This is something that I hadn’t come across when I was researching remote control software.

But, like @LSLguy and @commasense, my need for this software will probably disappear sometime soon. Mom will turn 100 later this week.