Super UserWhat's the best Remote Desktop Application?
[+41] [21] Jonathan Sampson
[2009-07-15 13:28:29]
[ software-rec remote-desktop vnc ]

I've got family members spread over many states that always want me to remote into their machines and help them with various issues. For this, what is the best remoting-application available, comparing features to cost?

In the past I've used VNC [1].

[+27] [2009-07-15 13:37:00] Simon P Stevens [ACCEPTED]

UltraVNC [1] is my personal favourite. (Free)

Supports encryption and windows authentication, chat, direct file transfer and an embedded Java viewer. Also has the option to use a direct mirror driver (allowing transparent and alpha blended windows work fine).

Also comes in a customisable single click edition [2] which you just customise and host (or email it to the other person), they run it and you can take control with no installation at their end.


(7) +1 for mentioning Single Click. - Evan
And with single click you only have to handle port forwarding DNS at your end, they don't have to do anything - Martin Beckett
(4) @mgb: You probably already know this, but for those that don't, that's because single clicks works by initiating the connection from the servers end. You can get the same behaviour without using single click by running the viewer in "listen" mode, and getting the other person to start the server and click "add new client" and entering the viewers IP address. - Simon P Stevens
[+22] [2009-07-15 13:58:00] Malke

I have to vote for TeamViewer ( although LogMeIn looks good, too. The advantage to TeamViewer is that the supportee only has to double-click on an icon and read the supporter a few numbers. No fiddling with sending emails, opening ports, etc. For some of my extremely tech-challenged friends/relations I always put the TeamViewer icon on their Desktop ahead of time since some of them have difficulties going to a website and downloading anything.

[+8] [2009-07-15 13:31:28] Abhinav
  • copilot [1]
  • netmeeting (Windows)

(4) +1 for copilot, not enough people recommend that - RCIX
[+8] [2009-07-15 13:32:55] Ross

LogMeIn [1] is useful if you don't mind using a web interface (and can be accessed from anywhere). I prefer mstsc [2] (Windows' own Remote Desktop Client) though :)


mstsc doesn't work on Windows 7 Starter. - ef2011
@ef2011: This answer says it is, however Starter Edition PCs cannot act as a remote desktop host. - Ross
[+7] [2009-07-15 13:36:16] Tom

For helping less savvy family members and friends I've used CrossLoop [1] in the past - it's not particularly feature-rich but the client is really easy to use.


I second CrossLoop. - Lasse V. Karlsen
+1 for CrossLoop - dead-simple setup is nice, and it's totally free - jamuraa
+1 CrossLoop, have helped out Friends/Fam on XP, Vista and OSX. - KP.
[+6] [2009-07-15 13:30:19] John Rudy

If I'm directly on the network, I'm a big fan of just using the Microsoft Terminal Services/RDP client -- but going to a client machine, that will "black out" their screen.

For support-style services, I like LogMeIn [1] and Bomgar (which is fairly pricey).


LogMeIn has a free serveice for simple support. - Frank V
True; the parenthetical was referring to Bomgar. :) - John Rudy
[+4] [2009-07-15 13:33:21] fretje

Not sure if you're talking about the server part or the client part...

For the client part i would recommend mRemote [1].

It's open source and supports a lot of different protocols!


[+3] [2009-07-15 13:39:35] Josh

I've used:

I've found that rAdmin seems to have the best screen response but it costs for each remote computer you want to control.


[+3] [2009-07-16 00:06:15] Antony

The beta version of Skype has a screen-sharing feature. I haven't used it personally but I think it has great potential for first-level family support.

[+3] [2010-03-21 17:17:31] Peter

My reputation is too low to add a comment to a comment so I'll bump the CoPilot recommendation here.

CoPilot [1] is made by Fog Creek, Joel Spolsky's company. It costs $5 US for a 24-period during the week and is totally free on weekends. It's great for me when I just need to see one of my folks' computers for a quick fix. It's just enough feature-wise to get the job done and only requires a 1MB download/install. No ports to open or other networking trickery. You might want to have the 'helpee' lower their resolution though, to make it perform better.

In any case, you will be able to walk grandma through this. :)


[+2] [2009-07-15 13:32:00] Stefan Thyberg

If all their computers are Windows and better than a Home edition, I'd suggest Microsoft Terminal Server since it's already installed. If you dislike it though, you could go for Copilot [1] if you don't mind spending a couple of bucks, it seems like a great product.


(1) RDP server is not available on most modern versions of Windows (actually it's only available on Enterprise, Business and Ultimate editions - most people use Home Premium). - Tomer Gabel
Edited my answer to reflect that. - Stefan Thyberg
[+1] [2009-07-15 13:59:12] TonyB

I use GoToAssist Express [1] for remote support. It works great and has the best price of most of the remote support options.

You might also want to check out Microsoft SharedView


unfortunately, the release of IE9 just killed SharedView. It crashes now. - Scott
[+1] [2011-02-15 15:56:57] Janfy

I also recommand TeamViewer [1].

  • Really simple, easy to use
  • allows file transfer
  • no installation needed
  • free to use for a personnal use
  • works fine behinf proxy/firewall

[0] [2011-05-05 11:25:54] Camille

I work in IT sphere and use Techinline [1], the easiest and most cost effective software that I've seen when researching these tools.


[0] [2009-07-15 14:06:09] MattGWagner

UltraVNC Single-Click is amazing for this, and free. It basically encapsulates a VNC client in a single .exe that can be sent to family/friends/etc and they click 'Connect', which initiates a connection to the viewer running on your local PC. No muss, no fuss, works great for all my uses.

[0] [2009-07-15 14:09:32] Piotr Dobrogost

RealVNC [1] is really nice. You should look no further.


(6) Except to look for the instructions for granny to open a port on her router and lookup her dynamic ip adress to tell you. - Martin Beckett
[0] [2009-07-15 23:59:48] Chris Thompson

If you want a version you have to pay for, LogMeIn Rescue [1] is a great tool. It's pricey, but it's an entire Help Desk tool. You can remote control, has a file manager, reboot the machine and autore-connect, and more. It's really aimed at a help desk scenario more than yours.


[0] [2010-09-21 02:40:28] studiohack

AMMYY Admin [1] is also a high-quality comes in one .exe file, and you can email it or direct the other user (in this case your mom) to download it. Have her run the .exe, read the number and press start. you input the number and press connect! Simple!


[0] [2010-11-09 15:39:46] paradroid

Nobody has mentioned it yet, so for the record, Crossloop [1] is worth checking out.

I personally use RDP and NX usually.


[0] [2010-11-17 20:10:28] Mike Hanson

I found another today called [1]. I haven't had a chance to play with it, but it seems like it would do the trick, and is one of the cheaper options that I've surveyed.


[0] [2011-02-07 07:16:01] alexinslc

Mikogo [1] is awesome. I use it all the time at work and at home. Description from their site: Mikogo is an easy-to-use cross-platform desktop sharing tool, ideal for web conferencing, online meetings or remote support.