Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Multi-flavor remote access with TeamViewer


Remote access is a cool feature, whether you are (still?) using telnet to remote desktop protocol it is something that is very useful. If you are like me, from time to time you get a phone call from a friend asking for help. Of course her explanations hardly match what you picture in your mind, so many times you cannot help them.

If you plan on supporting someone online you can install and configure the computer and networking gear (broadband router?) so you'll be able to connect to that system in the future when there is trouble.

Many different solutions can be used, but most of them are OS-dependent. You can do lots of cool things with SSH but mostly on a Linux or OS X system. Microsoft includes the RDP tool for remote desktop access to Windows computers.

I've heard about TeamViewer before from a client, but given it was a Windows-only solution I did not pay many attention at the moment. I've recently learned that many interesting choices were available: iPad & iPod version, Linux and OS X versions were developed.

Besides being a multiplatform remote access tool, it has another cool feature in its bag of tricks: It works through a firewall or a NAT box. That means you friend does not need to mess with her broadband router (huh?) anymore for you to be able to connect. Users get a client ID and a random password they can tell you over the phone/email for you to connect. You can see their screen and control the remote system, exchange files or use the built-in Voice over IP chat tool. Communication is encrypted too. And being free for non-commercial use does not harm. Client ID is just a nine digit number, no IP addresses that are weird for many users.

I just am not sure how useful the iPhone version could be.

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