Ghost'in the machine.
July 5, 2008 4:37 AM   Subscribe

Is there a freely available program that will allow me to work on my Dad's PC in the UK, from my PC in Canada?

My Dad always asks me for help. He's a silver surfer but hasn't got to grips with the functionality of a PC, so I would like to be able to get in and tidy things up for him and also tutor him while I work on his screen. I've seen this in use at my old company, but I can't remember what it was called. My Dad is running 2000 and I am running XP.
posted by Frasermoo to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Tight VNC
posted by fire&wings at 4:46 AM on July 5, 2008

LogMeIn is doing quite a nice job on that
posted by Presentnapper at 4:53 AM on July 5, 2008

Logmein. Great program. Free. Very easy to setup.
posted by sharkfu at 4:54 AM on July 5, 2008

Remote Desktop comes with Windows or is downloadable for free. Here's a link to one how to that shows with XP and 2000.
posted by EasilyOdd at 5:23 AM on July 5, 2008

Remote Desktop is built in to so is probably the easiest.

Your Dad will need either a static IP address or something like DynDNS -- the IP address is the way you point your computer at his. Assuming he's behind a router you need to fiddle around in the router settings to redirect incoming connections to his computer, then make sure he has a good firewall. You can then set up Remote Desktop on his computer and point your Remote Desktop client at his router's external IP address to connect.
posted by katrielalex at 6:20 AM on July 5, 2008

I've found TeamViewer extraordinarily easy to use. It's available for free, and you can download an .exe file that can run right from the desktop without installation. I've used LogMeIn in the past (and have never really figured out remote desktop), but I think TeamViewer is simpler and a lighter lift for the individual being supported. You connect simply with a random login ID and then PW that you both enter, and viola -- cross country, cross generational tech support.

I've used it fairly frequently to support my father (he can never remember how import new music into iTunes).
posted by chefscotticus at 6:35 AM on July 5, 2008

I have just started using Crossloop to help my brother maintain his computer. It is free, secure and very simple to install and use. See this demo on YouTube. It also has file transfer and you can switch control at the click of a button. The main page of the Crossloop website is geared towards a marketplace where Crossloop users can find people to help them with computer issues but you can ignore that as registration is optional - just skip it and connect to your dad's computer.
posted by wannalol at 6:48 AM on July 5, 2008

Also another alternative: Crossloop
posted by Boobus Tuber at 7:00 AM on July 5, 2008

Note to self; in future refresh before posting. As wannalol says...
posted by Boobus Tuber at 7:07 AM on July 5, 2008

Step-by-Step Guide to Remote Assistance, using the built-in Windows tools. (I wouldn't swear that it's in Win2K, but I think it is.)

It's easy-peasy. The hard part is finding the tools, which are in menus I've never gone through. But then you can remote-control their computer.

VNC is a good solution too, but I found that some spyware/anti-virus solutions flip out over it, since it "could" be used to remotely control your computer... Even though that's like the "Warning: Flammable!" labels on lighter fluid. VNC has the added benefit of being cross-platform: I used it to work on a remote Linux box. But Remote Desktop / Remote Assistance stuff has the benefit of being built into Windows already.
posted by fogster at 8:45 AM on July 5, 2008

There was a bit on lifehacker about this awhile back - my searches of the site are crapping out, but I found a reference to it about halfway down this previous askmefi thread. I've used this method several times and it works great - you email a little exe to your relative, they double click on it and you're in. You may need to tweak your firewall rules a bit, but it's otherwise a cinch.
posted by jquinby at 8:49 AM on July 5, 2008

Another vote for LogMeIn. I've been using their Free version for a few years now to maintain my parents' and in-laws' computers from 3000 miles away with no problems whatsoever.
posted by platinum at 11:08 AM on July 5, 2008

Even though it's been said, Logmein is the best version out there. And I've used many. The pay version is quite worth it as well.
posted by wile e at 1:17 AM on July 6, 2008

thanks for the responses. I'll put some time aside this week and see what works.
posted by Frasermoo at 3:01 PM on July 6, 2008

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