Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
TeamViewer simplifies remote access over the internet and supports a wide range of devices. While somewhat pricey for commercial use, TeamViewer is free for personal use.
This recommendation comes with a bit of a caveat.
TeamViewer makes remote access to your computers easy. If you have TeamViewer set up on your machine at home, you can connect to it from just about anywhere you have an internet connection and via just about any device that you might have with you.
It's very cool and relatively simple to set up.
It's also fairly expensive if you're looking at a solution for your business.
However, TeamViewer is free for private use, which makes it an ideal solution for individuals just wanting to remote-access their computer back home or any other non-commercial uses.
The best way to think of TeamViewer is as Remote Desktop on steroids, working transparently across the internet, not requiring any complex port-forwarding or router configuration.
In order to use TeamViewer for remote access to a computer, it must be installed on that computer. In fact, the easiest way to use TeamViewer is to install it on all of the computers that you might want to connect to or from, and have them all associated with a single TeamViewer account.
Download TeamViewer to each machine and run the installer. Begin by indicating that you are indeed installing the program:
Next, you'll indicate that you are using TeamViewer for Personal/non-commercial use:
Followed by agreeing to a license that once again confirms that non-commercial usage:
Next, you'll indicate how you want TeamViewer to run on this machine:
The dialog describes it well, but the difference really boils down to this: if you indicate that yes, you want to be able to remote access this machine, it really means that you want to remote access this machine without needing to be present. In this case, TeamViewer is installed and runs automatically when Windows boots. You'll be able to initiate connections to this machine at anytime without needing to start TeamViewer on it manually.
This is what I do.
The next dialog also relates to unattended access:
For security, you can also ensure that any remote access requested needs to be approved by someone at the machine. Unfortunately, that requires that someone be at the machine.
The TeamViewer VPN is optional. I don't use it myself; I'll describe what I do instead later. If enabled, this would allow you to copy files and connect to remote machines as if they were on your local network.
The default install location should be fine, as should the Start Menu folder.
TeamViewer is then installed and run.
After setup is complete, TeamViewer will run and begin the configuration wizard to set up unattended access.
The first step is to give this computer a name and remote access password:
Next, you'll create a TeamViewer account, or you'll specify the account you already have:
All of the machines that you associate with your account will be easily accessible from each other.
Once configuration is complete, TeamViewer shows you its main UI and the list of computers associated with your account.
If the setup seemed perhaps longer than you'd like, this part should make up for it.
To connect to a remote machine, double-click on that machine's name in the list. That's all.
In this example, I double-clicked on "NOTENMAC2", my MacBook Pro. TeamViewer (installed in Windows XP here) created a remote connection to my Mac and initiated a remote desktop sesssion. I can now use my Mac almost as if I were sitting in front of it. Unlike traditional Remote Desktop, if there is someone actually at the computer, they can also interact and see what's happening.
A double-click was all it took.
As you can see from my list, I have TeamViewer installed on several of my personal machines, including my wife's. That means that I can connect to any of them from any of them, regardless of where I happen to be.
That is what makes TeamViewer such a great solution for home users.
But there's more.
I also have TeamViewer installed on my Andoid tablet, on my Kindle Fire, and on my Android smartphone.
No, I can't remote control those devices, but what I can do is connect to any of my computers from those devices.
I've connected to my desktop machine from my phone to get a file while out in the middle of nowhere (well, a "nowhere" that still had cellular coverage ).
I've connected to my desktop machine from my Kindle Fire while I was sitting in Starbucks because I needed to check the status of some information there on.
Yes, it can be a little clunky to drive a desktop PC that assumes a mouse and keyboard from a touch-screen device that has neither, but it's possible. Sometimes, "possible" can be a very convenient thing.
I mentioned above that I don't bother to setup the VPN. Nothing against the VPN, but I use something else that works in all the situations I happen to be in.
I have Dropbox installed on all my devices - computers, tablets, and phone.
If I need a file that's on a remote computer, I use TeamViewer to connect to that computer, then on that computer, I copy the desired file to a folder in Dropbox.
I then disconnect.
A few minutes later, the file that I wanted appears in DropBox on the device that I have and I'm good to go.
I've only outlined the basic use of TeamViewer - connecting remotely to one of your own PCs. In reality, it includes additional features including file transfers, session recording, chat, and VoIP, and more. (Some features may be restricted to the commercial versions.)
It really is a full-featured remote access product. And while they have (in my opinion) priced the commercial version out of the reach of small business, the fact that they've made it available free for personal use makes TeamViewer a very useful tool for the average individual.
You can see the pricing for the commercial version, as well as a feature comparison for some of the available purchase levels here.
You can download TeamViewer, free for personal use, directly from their homepage.
TeamViewer. Free for personal use, I recommend it.
I'm all about full disclosure: normally when I recommend a product I take time to point out that the article may have links to products for which I might get some form of compensation should you sign up, buy or otherwise get the product.
Turns out, that's not the case here. To the best of my knowledge there are no such opportunities relating to this product.
The availability of this compensation - typically known as an affiliate relationship - does not affect what I recommend.
I choose what I use and recommend first, and sometime thereafter see if there's an affiliate relationship available - often there is not - as in this case - but my recommendations stand.
You can read more about this in my article Product Reviews, Recommendations and Affiliate Links Disclosure.
While you're at it it's worth reading Why you should never blindly trust an online recommendation (even mine) as well.
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