How remote computer assistance works

One of the more popular services we offer at BD PC Services is our remote computer assistance. When people first hear about being able to access a computer remotely many are initially skeptical of the service, but once they have an understanding of how remote desktop sharing works they usually prefer that to any other support method.

There are many different applications which allow for remote computer assistance but in general they all work the same. One computer connects to another via data transfer over a network (internet or local) and takes control of the computer as if sitting there at the mouse and keyboard. The person whos computer is being controlled is able to watch everything that is taking place as it happens. This provides a peace of mind for many people who are concerned about a remote desktop technician getting into files they shouldn’t be in. As soon as you notice it is happening you just move the mouse and take back control.

Tools for remote desktop assistance
There are several popular tools available free of charge which assist us in remotely administering your computer. We’ll briefly take a look at each one and explain what it does and when it is best used.

Log Me In
Log Me In is a web browser based tool which you install on any Windows based computer system for remote support. The nice thing about Log Me In is that firewalls and routers don’t need to be specially configured to allow the data to pass through. This setup is especially good for individual users or small offices without a central server or domain controller. If you’re not sure if you have a domain controller one easy way to check it is to right click on your “My Desktop” icon, click properties, click “Computer Name” tab and see if the domain name information is filled out. If not you probably don’t have one.
Virtual Network Computing (VNC)
Another popular remote computer assistance tool is Virtual Network Computing (VNC). There are many different flavors of VNC but for the most part they all work in the same way. The computer that is being controlled becomes a server and the one doing the controlling becomes a client of that server. If you are behind a router it becomes necessary to take some extra steps to instruct the router to direct traffic to the specific computer in question using a technique called port forwarding. VNC works well, but it can be a little harder for the average person to setup due to the firewall issues and the configuration that is required. Generally VNC is a good idea if you are on a domain or part of a workgroup because we are able to connect to one computer using a Remote Desktop (explained below) and then VNC to other computers on your network from there.
Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
RDP is another way of connecting to a Windows based computer. It operates in much the same way as the other two mentioned above except you can’t see nor can you stop what is happening. Windows actually opens up another desktop session and the person sitting at the physical computer has no idea that someone else is one the computer. You might wonder why you’d want to use such a thing, but there are several very good reasons.

  • No interference with work productivity. Our remote computer assistance can work on your systems without needing to kick people off
  • Speed. While VNC and Log Me In do a good job RDP is simply much faster. Which means work will take less time to complete
  • Desktop display using RDP is much easier for the remote technican to see which helps to decrease resolution time
  • Encrypted. Data sent via RDP is encrypted which means that there is much less of a liklihood it will be compromised. One the other hand VNC is “in the clear” (not encrypted) which is another reason it is good to RDP to a server and then VNC from there
How we decide which tool to use
Initially nearly all connections are made using Log Me In. This occurs because it is the simplest method for the vast majority of our clients. Once a technican has connected using Log Me In they are able to install and/or configure other remote access solutions if necessary.After the initial connection is made the tool(s) we setup become dependent upon your support needs. For instance if you are in an office with 10 computers we’ll figure out either the central server/domain controller or a computer which is always on, connect to it using RDP and then setup VNC on the rest of the computers in the office. On the other hand if you only have one or two computers we’ll generally rely on Log Me In.

Regardless of what method of connection we choose we will keep you full informed as to the process and exactly why that method is being used.

If you would like more information on our Remote Computer Assistance we would be glad to setup a short demonstration for you.

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