Help Desk Remote Support Software Experiences
March 5, 2008 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Experiences with remote desktop software for help desk troubleshooting?

I've used a few variations of VNC, and Remote Desktop, but our organization that supports a 20k+ users base running every networkable OS is looking for something with a little more ooomph. The nice wikipedia comparison chart has been helpful. I'm looking into NTRGlobal at the moment - care to share your experiences with this or related software? Ideally, the perfect software would:
  • Work on XP and Vista - OS X would be a nice bonus
  • Have built in encryption that wouldn't require a separate firewall
  • Be crazy simple to install on the client end (and be easy to uninstall, too)
  • Allow the client to see what is going on while the tech is working
  • Allow the client to easily disconnect the session at any time
  • Require the client to initiate or at least confirm the connection is OK before the technician can connect
  • Log the technician's session for later playback
  • Be nimble enough to work through assorted firewalls
  • Make it very difficult for anyone other than the intended technician to connect to the client's machine
  • Keep our security department from yelling at us

    Thoughts? What has worked for you?
  • posted by enfa to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
    I've always been a fan of Remote Admin (or RAdmin) located here:

    Not sure how many people it supports, but it sure did the job for my and my computers at home.
    posted by Schuby at 8:32 AM on March 5, 2008

    What directory service do you use on the back end for authentication? Some remote desktop tools are designed to integrate with (and be managed via) your authoritative DS. (For example, we're in the process of migrating from our old Timbuktu installs to the remote management tool included with Novell's ZENworks.)
    posted by JaredSeth at 8:42 AM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

    Full Disclosure: I work for the company.

    We currently produce GoToAssist and GoToAssist Express (currently free and supports Mac!).

    Both products meet your requirements, but GoToAssist Express is in a free Beta, which you can't really argue with.

    Feel free to message me if you want any more details on the specifics of things like security or ease of use.

    -Also, I'd suggest searching for "remote technical support" as opposed to "remote access." Most products for remote technical support meet the req's you put out there.
    posted by eric-neg at 8:45 AM on March 5, 2008

    Dameware is what I've used in the past and its good.
    posted by zennoshinjou at 9:00 AM on March 5, 2008

    I'm also a big fan of Dameware. I used it when I was IT Admin for a school district of 600+ workstations and it was simply a joy to work with. Depending on how your domain/Active Directory is setup, Dameware should cover most of your requirements. After working with a variety of remote tools (vnc, radmin, rdp, etc)... the reason I came to love Dameware so much is because it. just. works. Its intuitive and you get the feeling that the people who wrote it actually use it and understand the daily challenges of being a system admin.
    posted by jmnugent at 9:22 AM on March 5, 2008

    I've used Fog Creek Copilot a couple of times when it had free weekends, and I've been very happy. It definitely meets your "crazy simple" requirement, and it supports anything newer than Windows 98 and OSX 10.2. You can get an unlimited day pass for just $5 if you want to try it out for more than the two-minute time limit for free testing.
    posted by Plutor at 10:01 AM on March 5, 2008

    While Dameware is nice, I don't think it's so nimble with firewalls. For that you need something that takes advantage of allowed egress to an external server, like Copilot or GoToAssist or Adobe Connect.
    posted by me & my monkey at 10:12 AM on March 5, 2008

    We use GoToAssist here at work. I agree that it will probably suit your needs. My only warning is the file transfer functionality - it's awful. Really.

    I have also used LogMeIn. It's very slick, appears to be much faster and have more features than GoToAssist. The only catch is that the default configuration I have used did not require the client to initiate or confirm connection. This could be a matter of a configuration setting, however.
    posted by tom_g at 10:38 AM on March 5, 2008

    We use DameWare and LogMeInRescue here. DameWare works well on local networks. If you need to support remote users, it may not be able to connect.

    We've been using LogMeIn Rescue for a year or so and that works very well for users in a remote environment. I think it works on Macs, and they're even saying that it will work for windows mobile? I haven't tested either of those though. What I do like with this software is that file transfer works well, and I can reboot and have it connect automatically. Even into safe mode. It does require a user be in front of the PC, at least initially, to start the session. DameWare does not. But the user interacion is either "go to this website and enter this 6 digit code" or "click on the link in this email". So it meets the crazy simple part. It also allows logging, where DameWare does not.

    While I'm a fan of GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting, the pricing on GoToAssist wasn't right for us. For a 20k user environment, it might be a better solution for you. I'm in a much smaller shop and LogMeInRescue was much more reasonably priced. If money is not an issue for you, GoToAssist may be better. Compare the two of them.

    Also, a lot of people use WebEx for this as well. I've been on the end user side of WebEx and it seems to work well.
    posted by bDiddy at 11:54 AM on March 5, 2008

    We use WebEx. It is a browser plug-in, firewalls just see it as web traffic so they don't block it. We don't have it record sessions, but that is an option.

    Super easy install.

    So easy a CEO could do it.
    posted by TheDukeofLancaster at 12:41 PM on March 5, 2008

    I've been using the free version of TeamViewer and love it. It's incredibly painless to use. It just works, on both ends.

    I believe they have a more robust enterprise version.
    posted by scottso17 at 12:44 PM on March 5, 2008

    GoToAssist is good as is the flip-side competitor, LogMeIn's IT-Reach. I am a pretty big fan of Kaseya's integration of VNC and KVNC (for Vista). would point you that way. It can also do pretty good Lan discovery and integrates with AD in such way that most installs can be completed unattended. Plus, there's enough customization that would allow either instant remote access or permission-based access.

    My company works with ISL Light, Kaseya, LogMeIn, Zenith Branded LogMeIn, LevelPlatforms, Remote Desktop, RDP through Citrix ICA, and DameWare. I like Kaseya the best. :-)
    posted by tcv at 12:45 PM on March 5, 2008

    Response by poster: Thanks folks, these are all helpful. I'll do some further digging and will post a followup if my organization makes a decision.
    posted by enfa at 5:48 AM on March 6, 2008

    Response by poster: We went with Bomgar. We're very satisfied with the end result. Message me if you have any specific questions.
    posted by enfa at 5:12 PM on September 26, 2008

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