I know that I’ve blogged about remote software before, but I may have glossed over the fact that it can be tricky getting it to work on several different computers, especially if you’re using it for tech support and the people you are helping never do more than browse and email. Getting them to configure the network from their end can be an ordeal over the phone, and you may end up having to go round to set it up, which defeats the purpose the software. This time I found a solution so good that the 90 year-old silver surfer I tested it on got to grips with it with no trouble at all.
LogMeIn Free does need the remote computers you’ll be accessing to download and install some software, but it is a five-minute setup procedure, very easy, and can be tacked on to your list of things to do the next time you get called out to fix a misbehaving computer. Honestly, just download and install it on your target, log in to your LogMeIn account, and that’s it. The next time that computer is connected to the internet, you’ll be able to access it. And to sweeten the deal, all new computers are initially given a LogMeIn Pro subscription for a one-month trial period before reverting to a free setting.
LogMeIn is incredibly easy to install, just download and click through. Keep in mind that you’ll be prompted for a password straight away; make sure it is something secure, as this will be the password you use to access your LogMeIn account. Once that is set up, you can begin adding computers to the account, as many as you like, too, as there is not limit on how many computer you can add on the free account. When any of them are connnected to the internet, you can access them by logging on to the LogMeIn website. Once again, this is easy-peasy to use, showing you the computers you have in your group and a simple menu from which you can carry out your operations.
The free version of LogMeIn does just about everything you could want for remote access. You can navigate as though you were sitting in front of the computer, with access to files, folders and programs. You will need a broadband connection for the best results, and there is a bit of a time lag in seeing your actions executed, but nothing so slow that the experience is unpleasant. While you can’t do file transfers from computer to computer (you’ll need the paid version for that), you can copy and paste files from one to the other, which is an adequate workaround if you’re not dealing with large files. There’s also no file syncing between computers in the free version, but that is why the gods invented Dropbox.
As I said, I tested by the program by installing it on the computer of a little old lady I know. The only thing she does with her computer is a bit of browsing and send emails to her family, but even so, sometimes things can go wrong with her PC. Having installed LogMeIn Free the last time I called round, the next time her Outlook started playing up, I asked her to connect the computer to the internet and to leave me to it. Sitting at home 30 miles away, I managed to diagnose the problem, fix it, and then called her to tell her that her grandson was back from a school trip. All within 15 minutes. I was rewarded with home-baked pastries the next time I saw her.
For quick and uncomplicated remote access or tech support, I’m going to have to vote for LogMeIn over UltraVNC, especially for the ease with which it can be installed. I’ve added the install file to the arsenal of resident programs that live on my main USB stick for whenever I might need them. Not only is the program easy and relatively fast, but it also doesn’t gobble up a lot of space on the remote hard drive, nor does it severely impair the performance of the remote machine when in use. The holiday season is nearly upon us. When you get the inevitable request to look at somebody’s computer, download LogMeIn for them and save yourself further grief on future visits home.