Hacking my clients?
August 31, 2006 8:02 AM   Subscribe

How can I remotely access my clients' PCs for tech support and troubleshooting?

In the near future, I will be providing tech support-type services to a few business clients around a major metropolitan area. It would be nice if I didn't have to drive across town to their office every time their computer starts acting weird.

I know with XP Professional, I could simply use Remote Desktop to log in and see their screen, which is the ideal solution for me, because I have a fair amount of experience with RD.

However, some of the PCs have XP Home, and I believe some have Windows 2000.

I know there are solutions like GoToMyPC and PCAnywhere, as well as others geared toward a more tech-supporty(?) audience. Does anyone have any recommendations?
posted by cebailey to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Um, VNC.
posted by bigmusic at 8:07 AM on August 31, 2006

WOW. WHAT A BRAIN FART ON MY PART. I'm even using VNC to control my Ubuntu home server with my iMac.

Move along people, nothing to see here.
posted by cebailey at 8:10 AM on August 31, 2006

If they have a firewall, you may have problems using VNC. You can use Copilot to get around those issues, though.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2006

If you're going with VNC, they have to install it on their end anyway, so you'll probably be Ok with allowing the passthrough on their firewall at that time.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:57 AM on August 31, 2006

As a paid consultant for business clients, you should remember that VNC (and Remote Desktop for that matter) use insecure network communication protocols.

Really, both of these protocols should be run over a secure channel, either VPN or SSH tunnel. Otherwise, there is a chance that data and passwords could be exposed to nefarious types.
posted by wejones at 10:12 AM on August 31, 2006

http://www.logmein.com is pretty sweet.
posted by RedMosquito at 10:21 AM on August 31, 2006

This is what microsoft made "Remote Assistance" for. You can use Remote Assistance if the target computer is running XP Home.

I've never used it myself, but from the docs, I think it would be easier for the end user to set up than VNC (you just send them an email and they clickity click click, looks like -- probably takes care of windows firewalling too).
posted by fishfucker at 11:43 AM on August 31, 2006

oh, and i believe you can use regular RDP with 2k, as it was basically the "pro" edition.
posted by fishfucker at 11:44 AM on August 31, 2006

UltraVNC Single Click http://ultravnc.sourceforge.net/addons/singleclick.html

It packages VNC into a exe that all they need to do is click and only runs when they want help.
posted by Mesach at 1:17 PM on August 31, 2006

+1 for LogMeIn.com

Free service has been more than enough for over a year now for me. Even behind the strictest firewalls, I have no problems remoting to machines I have setup with the service.

The paid service adds the ability to copy files between machines. They also offer a IT support plan that allows you to connect to client machines without the software being installed. I believe you IM or email them a link, from which they can confirm and give you control.
posted by criticman at 1:26 PM on August 31, 2006

VNC over SSH, no question. Or if you want to pay someone, Fog Creek Copilot.
posted by evariste at 2:45 PM on August 31, 2006

RE: wejones' comments

I disagree with the premise that RDP is insecure.
posted by dgeiser13 at 3:35 PM on August 31, 2006

Concur; UltraVNC looks pretty spiffy, though I haven't yet deployed it myself.
posted by baylink at 10:50 AM on September 1, 2006

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