What Would Chris Do? Remote Access

Many geeks would tell you that the field more impromptu questions and advice-seekers than most, including the medical profession. I’m not alone in that regard, and enjoy sharing my perspective on technology and helping resolve issues. But what people seem most curious about is how I use technology, so I thought I would start a series of posts explaining how I do things. This isn’t to say my way is the best, or even what I would recommend to others. Rather, I hope it inspires you to consider the richly vast options that exist today for using technology to enrich our lives.

Remote Access

Remote Access apps enables you to connect to and operate another computer as though you are physically in front of the device.  My device portfolio consists of a laptop, a desktop PC, a Tablet PC, a Windows Home Server, an iPad, and a Windows 7 Phone.  Despite some duplicative functionality, each device serves a unique purpose in my life.  So what to do when I am, say, in Seattle and need to access files or applications that are on a PC back at home?  That’s where Remote Access technology comes in.

Microsoft Live Mesh

First, if you are not currently running Microsoft Live Essentials, stop reading this now and click on this link.  Seriously.  Microsoft has created a suite of free applications that are essential (get it?), one of which is Live Mesh.  Live Mesh offers a cornucopia of services related largely to SkyDrive, their cloud-based file storage.  But somewhat hidden is the gem of remote access and/or management of your PCs and mobile phones.  Did I mention this is free?  Yep.  So long as you have a Windows Live ID (and who doesn’t?  Maybe Sergey and Larry?), you install the Live Mesh nugget on each of your PCs and immediately can access them from a PC or Mac.  You heard that right, a Mac.

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I’ve been able to connect at Starbucks and hotels using both the desktop application (which sits hidden in your taskbar) and my browser.  It handles multi-screen setups with no problem, and frankly just works.  Highly recommended.

Citrix GoToMyPC
Before Live Mesh, this was my (no pun intended) go-to application for remote access. It works extremely well, doesn’t hiccup on AT&T Uverse or Xfinity Internet settings, and is pretty easy to configure. Now, I use it mostly through my iPad, which has become my de facto travel device until Live Mesh has an iPad app.  In less than 10 minutes, I had the application installed, logged in and connected to a PC I needed to run an application from. Granted, the screen size and finger gymnastics necessary to mimic mouse clicks takes some getting used to, but that’s a small price to pay for the convenience.

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Last March, I received a panic call about a website being down, right after checking in at an airport. While I had my laptop, even under the best circumstances the time needed for bootup wasn’t reasonable. Pulling out my iPad, I was able to login to the server and resolve the issue and still make my flight.

So there you go.  This is how I do Remote Access.  What do you think?

2 Replies to “What Would Chris Do? Remote Access”

  1. Hey Christopher,

    For family remote support I’ve been using Teamviewer. for years. It is free and really easy. I’ve had to remote into my parent’s and extended relative’s computers a few times and the client side of things are easy enough for them to understand.

    For commercial use we happen to have ScreenConnect at work. It’s pretty cool. I was just happy it came with free support of devices- iOS (iPad/iPhone) and android included. I really hadn’t used it that much but we have an unlimited license- so once they I got an iPad I used it a ton.

    Anyways that is my way of things. You should give both apps a try. I think GTA is pretty expensive comparatively.

  2. Thanks for the input Tim. I was planning on discussing Remote Support in a later post, but appreciate learning about other products. Because those family members I am most likely to provide support for are Windows users, I rely on Remote Assistance. Why? 1) no installation needed -it comes with WinXP or newer, 2) ease of use – I can add a shortcut on their desktop when setting up their PC or just have them type “Remote Assistance” in the search box. But, you use what you know best right?

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