Best Way for Remote Computer help
November 25, 2005 7:54 PM   Subscribe

Daughter is going to university in Europe next year. She will take a laptop with XP. No idea what, if any, internet connection will be available. Assuming there is one, I'd like to be able to access her laptop from home if there are any computer problems, etc. What's the best software, method, etc. Is VNC a good option?
posted by vac2003 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Well, VNC is an option, yes. XP has Remote Desktop, which is basically Microsoft's version of VNC. It should be pointed out that the way that VNC and RDP accomplish the task is very different, but they basically get you the same result.

If the connection is limited in terms of bandwidth, you might look into TightVNC as a good implementation. Some would say that it's the one to use regardless. It's free, in any event.
posted by jedicus at 7:59 PM on November 25, 2005

CoPilot is a great option. It isn't free, but it isn't expensive, and it's really, really handy when you only need to do it occasionally. I used it a few weeks ago when I had to get my dad's email set up with my family's server again.
posted by SpecialK at 8:25 PM on November 25, 2005

Take a look at (free version) No worrying about firewalls etc...
posted by Sagres at 8:55 PM on November 25, 2005

A pretty good piece from Lifehacker on this subject here.
posted by JPowers at 10:05 PM on November 25, 2005

I frequently use Remote Desktop (and the free rdesktop program) to log into my Windows machine from my Linux machine. I frequently use VNC to do the reverse. Remote Desktop is a much better user experience, and the server is already built-in.
posted by grouse at 2:53 AM on November 26, 2005

Remote Desktop needs much less information to draw the screen of the computer you are logging into, unlike VNC, which essentially sends a series of screen captures (unless they've changed their methods recently). Given that situation, Remote Desktop is going to be a hell of a lot faster for you. Additionally, you can make use of "Remote Assistance", which sounds like exactly what you want to do.

You can use the UltraVNC client to do something similar to "Remote Assistance" with VNC, but I haven't used VNC on windows computers since XP came out.

That said, it's more than likely that there'll be tons of geeks at the school who will be more than willing to fix your daughter's computer for her. Don't deny them a chance to do a favor for her.
posted by fishfucker at 7:09 AM on November 26, 2005

If you use MSN messenger, you can launch Remote Assistance sessions from inside of an MSN messenger chat, I have had some problems with firewall traversal though. It might even be worth just setting up MSN messenger with an account for you and for your daughter so that you can use it to establish the remote assitance session without having to figure out her IP address at the time she is having issues. I am not wild about MSN messenger, but this feature has helped me solve family member's computer woes before so it can be helpful.
posted by jduckles at 7:18 AM on November 26, 2005

I'll also encourage use of XP's Remote Desktop component.

It's a fair solution for her to access your computer, but for assistance, MSN Messenger/XP's Remote Assistance system is best. (You don't need to determine her likely-random IP address, and have a better shot at making it around a firewall.)

Truthfully, if she's behind a router blocking access to port 3389, there may be some troubles getting through to her on Remote Desktop.

Either way, that's going to be your best shot, but TightVNC and those the others suggested aren't bad, either.
posted by disillusioned at 8:01 AM on November 26, 2005

Thanks to all the suggestions. They are much appreciated. I like the MSN messenger/Remote Assistance option - sounds like that might be the way to go, especially as she is very familair with MSN already :-)
posted by vac2003 at 12:06 PM on November 26, 2005

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