I need to replace PCAnywhere
February 15, 2015 11:12 AM   Subscribe

...since its main feature on Win 7+ machines seems to be activating the Bluescreen feature and crashing video during scrolling.

What I need is rock-solid remote desktop viewing/control and file transfers to and from any directory, ideally with minimal user interaction needed on the remote machine (My client expects that I will "Just fix it, Dammit!" without involving him much past starting the host app.)

What do you find works reliably? Prefer a no-cost freeware option. I've looked at GBridge, but it seems like it requires per-directory permission to see/change files on the host computer.

Difficulty level: My client has several computers behind a NAT router that I need to be able to access.
posted by pjern to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Remote Desktop? It's built into Win 7, and works fine.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:23 AM on February 15, 2015

Response by poster: Remote desktop doesn't work to connect to Windows 7 Home Premium, which is on some of his computers.
posted by pjern at 11:42 AM on February 15, 2015

Option 1: TeamViewer. It's free for personal use. If you try to get around that, you'll eventually get some nag screens from TeamViewer, followed by some slowdowns, like a 5-minute connect limitation, until you pay for the license. But if it's one client, they may never catch on, so it's your call.

Set a "permanent password," which takes you through the unattended remote connection wizard. Otherwise, the auto-generated password will change after every reboot.

It uses port 80 TCP, so any computer that has web access will be able to use this, and it calls out to a central server to announce its status (available for connect, etc.) so home (stateful) firewalls are no problem. It's a great solution. Windows and Mac, and it's okay to have multiple clients connected at once. It also allows remote reboot.

Option 2: https://join.me -- Both users go to that website, and download a very small application, under 3MB, I think. Remote helper (you) enter the 9-digit ID of the client's computer. Client has to click an icon to grant you control of kbd/mouse on his/her computer. A product of LogMeIn, which may also be an option.

Option 3: I'm not really sure how hard or easy it is to use Chrome Remote Desktop (link goes to Chrome web store-- it's a browser extension) made by Google. I gather both parties run this, but I really haven't looked into it. Seems like the price is right, though.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:48 AM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use Teamviewer for my mom's computer and for file transfers between my and a business partner's pc
posted by 724A at 12:45 PM on February 15, 2015

I've got a few friends who hit me up for tech support on the regular. Couldn't be happier with TeamViewer.
posted by in278s at 3:24 PM on February 15, 2015

Best answer: VNC would work. You'd start the server on each of his computers, and have him port forward a single port through the firewall/NAT to each of them (this has security issues but is simpler to set up; a better approach would be to use something like SSH tunneling, but I don't know what your technical skill level is and that would require an SSH server on your client's end and some knowledge of how tunneling works for you to set up the tunnels on your end).

I don't think it does file transfer (remote desktop programs don't usually include that in their bailiwick, in my experience) but you're probably better off finding a separate solution for that (e.g., webdav or SFTP allowing you to drop files in a staging area within his network) rather than holding out for a remote desktop that does everything you want to do just so.
posted by axiom at 9:03 PM on February 15, 2015

At one point, there was a video compatibility mode for pcA. It did not use any video drivers, so it would not blue screen on you.

I don't know if that option is still there, buried in the options etc. but something to look for (google seems to hint that it was removed in 12 and 11.5, but I'll bet there's still a regkey to set if the dialogs don't show the option .. )
posted by k5.user at 8:12 AM on February 16, 2015

The best two options are Logmein or their standalone PCAnywhere-like program called Remotely Anywhere. RA is basically Logmein Pro but without the web service part. My only complaint with LMI is that you can't buy a perpetual license, so you're stuck paying monthly or yearly.
posted by wierdo at 2:00 PM on February 16, 2015

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