Sys Admins / Helpdesk Support - remote control software?

What kind, if any, remote software do you use on your client computers to help end users with stupid problems? What would you suggest for an organization that has approximately 700 machines that mostly run XP, some W2K?

XP has such software built in. It’s called Remote Assistance IIRC. Note that Remote Desktop is something else.

However, I prefer VNC. VNC comes in many forms, but is free.

We use Dameware. It works OK; I suspect we have it because it’s fairly cheap. I don’t know how it compares with other software, since it’s all I’ve used.

I’ve had vendors use WebEx. It seems to work pretty well, but I think it’s pretty expensive.

Definitely give the Dameware trial a shot.

I don’t support anything like that number of machines, but I use Windows Remote Assistance. - for the following reasons:

-You get access to the file system as well as visual control of the desktop
-The view of the client’s desktop is scalable to fit a window (I’ve never managed to get this working properly with VNC)
-You can initiate the session through Windows Live Messenger
-The Invite>Accept>Request/Allow control procedure seems not only secure, but reassuring to the client.
-A textual chat session is included in the whole package.

Only works with Windows-based computers of recent vintage though.

My experience with Remote Assistance is that it forces the user at the console to either lock the workstation or log off - you can’t see the application that they’re using. Seemed pretty useless to me. (Unless I’m remembering wrong.)

I’ve had a lot of luck with xVNC (confusing name; not to be confused with X-based VNC). It allows you to remotely-install a VNC client on a workstation in the domain, using a randomly-generated password, then connects you, then after you’ve disconnected, remotely uninstalls the VNC client from the workstation.

It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it gets the job done, and is a bit more secure than installing VNC clients on all the workstations using the same password.

That’s at job #1. At job #2 we use PCAnywhere. I’m not sure which of the two products is better, to be honest.

We use Remote Desktop Connections, but all our computers are on the same network, so it’s easier.

To help my wife at home and my daughter, I use Logmein. It’s free to individuals and gives you a nice remote control setup (much better than Windows Remote Assistance, which is awkward to use and set up). Logmein also have a paid version that lets you do things like helpdesk support on computers that don’t have the Logmein client installed on them.

I’ve not seen it do anything like that. In my experience, it’s just like VNC with a bunch of Windows-specific bells, whistles and polish.

I had looked at that, but there are too many clicks required. If you have never had to deal with a doctor (or computer illerate nurse/case manager/unit secretary) you just expect them to take any initiative to allow remote access. The most they will give us is the info on the screen via BGInfo. Other than that, we gotta go up to the floor and figure it out ourselves and with all the new computers being deployed it is too much for 4 techs.

I’ll check out the Dameware and VNC softwares. Thanks folks.

I support roughly 1000 clients, most with multiple servers, using various remote control software. We use PC Anywhere, Go To My PC and Remote Desktop for our main connections, though some clients requested other connection methods. At some properties the IT staff sets up secondary connections to other machines on their network using various software.

PCAnywhere is good. Pretty stable and the ability to easily do file transfers is a plus. A downside is that it needs to be restarted from time to time*. If you get a lot of connections it can take PCA a bit to load.

Remote Desktop is good but file transfers can be a pain.

Go To My PC rocks. Easy to use, file transfers are quick. Has to be restarted every once in a while but not often. Also, the screen draw is good and the window is scalable. The interface is easy to use and the search function works well.

VNC. Tight VNC, Real VNC, Dameware, etc. Utter crap. Its slow. Agonizingly slow. The delay drives me nuts. If I have to do something over a VNC connection I usually double the amount of time I think it is going to take due to the delay.

Webex is ok. The client we have who uses it, IIRC, has to send an invitation to allow you access. That can be a pain in the butt.

Citrix. Application server? Somthing like that. Eh. We only have two clients who use it and it is a pain, though that might be because I rarely use it.

There are a couple other products we use that I cannot remember right now. GTMPC is still my favorite. Citrix got this one right.


  • Sometimes you connect and get the ‘Checkerboard screen of migraines’. That screen makes my eyes hurt. Restarting PCA solves the problem but man, that screen makes my eyes water.

We use PCA for checking the servers, but we didn’t want to have to crank out a ton of money for several hundred licenses. RDP doesn’t help us at all since it blanks out the screen on the user’s end.

That’s Remote Desktop, not Remote Assistance.

Dameware is not VNC, and it’s not slow. It’s also very inexpensive, as it’s not licensed per client.