I know I'm an IT guy... why can't I figure this out?
July 14, 2008 3:14 PM   Subscribe

Any suggestions for remote-controlling a computer when it's behind a NAT/firewall that I can't open a port on? Alternatively, how can I make Gmail work for this client?

One of the clients we do a website for is really struggling with getting Gmail Apps for Domains working. I have confirmed that it works for POP access because I can do it from *our* office, but whenever she (their secretary) tries to input the correct settings, she's unable to make it work on their end (she gets timeout errors and a few others...). I have spent 3 hours on the phone with her today, and I'd like to be able to call her back tomorrow and spend about 15 minutes and make it work!

This particular client is using Outlook 2002 on Windows XP. We already applied the latest Microsoft Office service pack. Still no go. They refuse to just use the gmail web interface.

I'm thinking that if I can just remote desktop or vnc over to their computers, I'd be able to double check things, but they're behind some kind of a router, and the people who work there know NOTHING about it, so I can't just have them do a remote assistance invitation, because it comes through with a 192.168.x.x address.

Any suggestions on how I can make VNC / Remote Desktop work through their router? I would just go over there, but they're nowhere close to us...

Barring that, any ideas on why Gmail won't work? We tried the Gmail Pop Troubleshooter thingy and it didn't find any problems.
posted by fvox13 to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's Copilot which is pretty much brain dead easy.
posted by zsazsa at 3:19 PM on July 14, 2008

posted by daveyt at 3:19 PM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Use Window's Remote desktop support invitation dohickey onver Hamachi. Hamachi is similar to VPN software, in that it makes it appear like both computers are in the same exact local network. It's a life saver.
posted by niles at 3:25 PM on July 14, 2008

Seconding Hamachi. It's free and dead easy to set up.
posted by ReiToei at 3:39 PM on July 14, 2008

lookup VNC single click. Takes a bit to get working so won't explain it here but it does work
posted by mefiskiing at 5:00 PM on July 14, 2008

Hamachi never worked for me.
If time's a premium, then I second copilot. We use it frequently, and it's a synch to use. It'll cost you 5$ for a days worth of tech support.
posted by seanyboy at 5:04 PM on July 14, 2008

VNCsingle click. This allows you to pre-configure an .exe that runs vnc on their computer and automatically logs onto the vnc server running on your local machine. They dont need to open any ports for listening. You need to on your vnc box.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:16 PM on July 14, 2008

Thanks! I like the flexibility of the VNCsingle Click, especially since it works with a technology I am *very* familiar with and use every day. We'll use CoPilot as a backup. Hamachi looks cool, but I know our client will be intimidated, and their IT vendor might not like it.
posted by fvox13 at 6:34 PM on July 14, 2008

Having used both Hamachi and Logmein, Logmein is dead easy and fantastic to use (even the free version). I'm able to log in to all 12 computers at various locations without any router finessing anywhere - at no cost. Crazy good stuff.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:12 PM on July 14, 2008

Once you get this remote control thing sorted out, I'd strongly suggest you get at Gmail via IMAP instead of POP3. The massive Gmail mailbox size means there's absolutely no reason to remove messages from the server, and IMAP is a much, much better client protocol than POP3 for mails that are going to stay on the mail server.

As for what's blocking you: I bet you'll find Norton Internet Security installed on their workstations. I've had endless trouble coaxing reasonable behavior out of networking with that POS in place.
posted by flabdablet at 9:31 PM on July 14, 2008

Yeah, Hamachi.
posted by drinkspiller at 8:00 AM on July 16, 2008

http://www.logmein.com is what I use to deal with tech issues for my parents and other siblings all over the country, and friends around the world. Never any routing issues, and pretty simple to setup using the free version. I have any account on there that I leave empty (no computers) and just change the pass to something I can give to them over the phone so they can log in, run the quick setup (next, next, next, done.) and then I can get onto their PC and do whatever is needed.

Afterwards, clean out the computer definition (or keep it if it will be on going), and voila... onto the next support issue with someone else.
posted by mr.anthony337 at 10:57 AM on July 16, 2008

« Older Help me fix my soldering iron!   |   Birders, bring a novice into the fold! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.