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remote pc supportWhen you’re as involved in the computer field as deeply as folks here at MUO are, you inevitably get asked by family and friends to help out with computer problems.

One of my favorites has always been Instant Housecall Give Remote PC Assisstance to Friends with InstantHousecall Give Remote PC Assisstance to Friends with InstantHousecall Read More , which Joel wrote about. The problem there is that the free version doesn’t offer unlimited remote pc support. You can only use it with a limited number of remote contacts. The full version is quite expensive.

Crossloop Remote PC Assistance with Crossloop Remote PC Assistance with Crossloop Read More , which Mark covered, is also a great solution, but both people need to download and fully install the software for it to work.


Recently, I was tasked with helping a family member troubleshoot a virus-infected computer. The family member lives in a town three hours away, so it isn’t an easy task to go down and help him out. I wanted a solution that I could install on my laptop, but he wouldn’t have to install – at least not beyond simply visiting a website and accepting certain plug-in installations. I finally found the perfect, free remote PC support solution in Netviewer Support.

Setting Up & Connecting

The first thing you’ll want to do if you want the ability to help out anyone with their computer, anywhere in the world, is install the “support” version of Netviewer. I say the support version, because Netviewer actually comes with a free “meet” version as well, which is mostly for providing online presentations. The “support” version has the remote pc support feature that you need, so make sure to install that one.

Once you run the install and re-launch the application, the login screen lets you choose between basic or expert. As far as I can tell, in the free version either choice is the same (advanced options aren’t enabled).

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remote pc support

Once you launch the app, you’ll see the control bar on the right. This is where all text chat takes place, and where you’ll enable or disable control of the remote computer. To initiate a connection with your family or friend that’s asking for computer help, just click on the “invite” button.

remote pc

The software opens up your default email client with a pre-written message. All you have to do is type in the email address of your friend and press send. The message is already embedded with with session ID.

remote pc

Once they receive the email, all they have to do is click on the link. It will take them to a special area of the Netviewer domain that automatically installs the required Java app. They’ll need to accept several warning messages along the way, such as this first one that informs them that the session may be recorded.

remote pc

Entering Remote Control Mode

Once your friend enters the session, the support person (you) can see their desktop. At the beginning, you don’t have any control of their desktop until you click the “ON” button next to the “Remote Control” text at the upper right corner of your Netviewer control panel. When you do, your friend will see the following pop-up box.

remote pc access

Once they accept, you have full control of their computer through the Netviewer interface. The window view on your screen is encapsulated by the Netviewer window, which you can maximize or minimize if you need to get to your own screen. You can access your friend’s entire system, and you can even send the computer a reboot request.

remote pc access

A few useful add-ons that make the support session more interactive is the chat area, where you can chat realtime with the person at the same time that you’re troubleshooting the PC.  The Netviewer website touted integration with Skype VoIP, but I could not get that part working, and suspect that it’s only enabled in the paid version.

remote pc access

What is enabled in the free version is also this useful File Transfer area. This basically uses Netviewer sort of like an instant FTP or peer-to-peer file transfer using this drag & drop area in the control panel. This makes it very easy to download files from the computer you’re supporting, edit or otherwise work on them on your local PC, and then upload them back to your friend’s computer.

remote pc support

All of the tools included in this free “support” version of the Netviewer application make this the best remote pc support app that I’ve used yet. You can only use it for free for non-commercial purposes, so don’t try to start up your own computer support business with it – or you need to buy a business license. However, to help out with the occasional request from a friend or family member, Netviewer is perfect.

So, give it a try and let us know what you think. Do you know of any other similar apps that do the same thing just as well or better? Share your own experiences in the comments section below.

Image Credit: ramasamy chidambaram

  1. Anonymous
    November 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    When it comes to RDS I always recommend Proxy Networks. I've been using their paid software for my sales business and it works well and is straightforward. http://www.proxynetworks.com

  2. cumminsbon
    November 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    When it comes to RDS I always recommend Proxy Networks. I've been using their paid software for my sales business and it works well and is straightforward. http://www.proxynetworks.com

  3. Oliver Schwartz (Netviewer PR)
    November 15, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Just to drop a few relevant information: Netviewer is offering its product range as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), e.g. a named user license of Netviewer Support is being charged with 29,90 EUR / 39,90 USD month (for the support-giver) and enables you to hold as many support sessions per month as you want. Your participant is always for free. If you use Netviewer Support for private or non-commercial use it for free (fully-featured, not only a trial). Some other mentioned vendors are still selling their products instead of SaaS. Make your own opinion what is better fitting your needs. In terms of functionality and usability of the leading remote support solutions you will find a good overview here: http://remote-desktop-software-review.toptenreviews.com/ ...

  4. Oliver Schwartz (Netviewer PR)
    November 15, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Just to drop a few relevant information: Netviewer is offering its product range as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), e.g. a named user license of Netviewer Support is being charged with 29,90 EUR / 39,90 USD month (for the support-giver) and enables you to hold as many support sessions per month as you want. Your participant is always for free. If you use Netviewer Support for private or non-commercial use it for free (fully-featured, not only a trial). Some other mentioned vendors are still selling their products instead of SaaS. Make your own opinion what is better fitting your needs. In terms of functionality and usability of the leading remote support solutions you will find a good overview here: http://remote-desktop-software... ...

  5. Name
    November 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    would either netviewer or teamviewer work if the remote computer you are trying to fix can't boot up to windows, but they can use a boot cd to boot up into ubuntu or ubcd4win to get online and acces the internet and email?

    • Gouthaman Karunakaran
      November 13, 2010 at 5:25 pm

      None of the remote support programs would work outside the OS - which means you cannot use them while Windows is booting.

  6. Gouthaman Karunakaran
    November 13, 2010 at 9:49 am

    It should be, but then I haven't personally tried NetViewer.

    BTW, The article about being a Remote Support Superhero is kinda obsolete. TeamViewer has matured a lot after that and If you can, I recommend you try it. I fix all my clients' computers with that. :)

  7. Ryan Dube
    November 13, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Thanks for your comments - Teamviewer looks to be great software. I didn't mention it because it's already Lee already covered it - although this article could use a link to that one as an option:

    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/b...

    With that said, I've really fallen in love with Netviewer for the simplicity - but with that said, I can't argue as to which is better as I haven't tried Teamviewer yet. Although based on all your feedback I suspect it is a bit better.

  8. Gouthaman Karunakaran
    November 13, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Teamviewer does it for me and I can't figure out why you haven't mentioned that. Teamviewer offers unlimited remote sessions and you don't even have to install the software to use it. The program can be run from the Setup itself.

    BTW, You can transfer files in Teamviewer, If you've got trouble with that there's always our beloved Dropbox.

    • Ryan Dube
      November 13, 2010 at 4:31 am

      Thanks for your comments - Teamviewer looks to be great software. I didn't mention it because it's already Lee already covered it - although this article could use a link to that one as an option:

      http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/be-a-remote-support-superhero/

      With that said, I've really fallen in love with Netviewer for the simplicity - but with that said, I can't argue as to which is better as I haven't tried Teamviewer yet. Although based on all your feedback I suspect it is a bit better.

      • Gouthaman Karunakaran
        November 13, 2010 at 8:49 am

        It should be, but then I haven't personally tried NetViewer.

        BTW, The article about being a Remote Support Superhero is kinda obsolete. TeamViewer has matured a lot after that and If you can, I recommend you try it. I fix all my clients' computers with that. :)

  9. Gouthaman Karunakaran
    November 13, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Teamviewer does it for me and I can't figure out why you haven't mentioned that. Teamviewer offers unlimited remote sessions and you don't even have to install the software to use it. The program can be run from the Setup itself.

    BTW, You can transfer files in Teamviewer, If you've got trouble with that there's always our beloved Dropbox.

  10. Netflexx
    November 12, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Also agree on Teamviewer - for quick and easy assists to family and friends it is just perfect. Have it on my USB stick and in Dropbox so it really is always at hand when needed - it saved me so many kilometers and hours, truly appreciated.

  11. Pvseastern
    November 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    agree on this one. I have used TeamViewer4 on several occasions. Found it very useful, quick and with a nice interface too.

  12. Sammy1
    November 12, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    If you cant use a variety of VNC try teamviwer. Not trying to spam it, just another option. It's free, and the person on the other end doesnt have to install a program on their computer. It doesnt have a file transfer or chat, or anything fancy like that. However, it has an unlimited amount of times you can use it.

    • ThatLocalTechSupportGuy
      November 12, 2010 at 11:45 pm

      TeamViewer actually does have both file transfer and chat, and agreed it is a wonderful program.

    • Anonymous
      November 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm

      Yep, use teamviewer regularly yo help 4 of my family members and it indispensable. It definitely deserved a menion in the article simply because it is falls into the same category and does it so well.

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