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remote-desktop-control If you have ever dealt with a huge company that needed to provide you with technical support then you have probably seen or participated in a WebEx session.

WebEx is GREAT except for the fact that it costs a fortune to use. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be able to do what they do but I did not want to pay for it.

That was when I found a Free VNC product to kind of do what I needed. I became a huge fan on Single Click VNC for offering up tech support to my less technical friends and family.

It is free but limits you to the machine you configured it to work against. To change where you (the operator) will remote control the machine from, you have to re-compile the executable and open ports on your router.

Now a loyal AskTheAdmin reader sent me a tip pointing me to Ammyy. This is the home page of AmmyyAdmin, a VNC-esque tool for remote support. You and the recipient of your support need to download and run a small executable. It is the same file for both of you and you can put it out on a web server, email it or simply instruct them to download the file from Ammyy’s home page.

You run the file, they run the file and then they give you their “Unique Code” to punch into my little console as seen below. The operator tab would be the tab you would go to to connect to a remote computer.

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remote access software

The Client tab is where your client goes to start the service. They simply hit the start button and wait. Then when you click connect they will be greeted with the following prompt.

You can limit it to just viewing, interacting and full on file system access via a nice little File Transfer module.

While you are waiting for the user to hit accept you will see this screen:

webex alternative

Once you are connected you can control their machine, make changes or edits just like you were sitting in front of their machine. A huge time saver and here is the kicker – it works without opening any ports like GoToMyPC and other similar services because it works over port 80! 443 (SSL) Sweet!

ammyyadmin

The tool bar at the top will get you to “Open the File Transfer Screen”, Send Control, Alt or The Windows Key along with Refresh and a few others.

remote desktop access

And of course it wouldn’t be a MakeUseOf article without showing you the Preferences screen:

Are you using a similar free tool? Do you have a better way of serving up tech support? Put us on in the comments!

  1. shokti
    July 30, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    teamviewer(http://www.teamviewer.com) is similar to this program.

  2. Mr. Guy
    May 21, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    I've looked at most of the things mentioned here. It seems like they do not redirect special keys like the Windows key. That's critical for me. I know GotoAssist does and I really like it but it's out of the price range. Anyone know of any free or paid options that will redirect special keys like the Windows key?

  3. tunghoy
    February 18, 2009 at 8:37 am

    AVG anti-virus showed Ammyy as safe. I also submitted the site to AVG's labs and they said it was safe.

    Unfortunately, the free Ammyy software is worth exactly what I paid for it. It was so painfully slow as to be completely worthless. I've found VNC applications in general to be slow, but Ammyy and Zolved were unusable. I tested both on very fast computers connected to a 7 gb DSL.

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      February 18, 2009 at 8:56 am

      If you look at the first screen shot you see you can throttle your connection speed. If you have a 7mb connection you would choose the highest setting from the drop down menu.

      Did you try that?

  4. Anthony
    November 21, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    I personally use Techinline (http://www.techinline.com) which is very simple and doesn't cost a "fortune", like some of the other services mentioned above. Plus they offer a "pay as you go" plan which I've seen only 1 or 2 other services offer, and that's just perfect for sporadic use. All in all, it's a great tool for remote support

  5. ak
    November 20, 2008 at 6:32 am

    I experienced exactly the same problem as R J.
    I was taken to a suspicious web-site.
    But following clicks, i get the correct site.
    So, I'm a little bit concerned.

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      November 20, 2008 at 8:28 am

      I have been using it for a while now and can say it is VERY safe and an excellent product.

  6. Nick
    November 18, 2008 at 10:12 am

    I've been using Team Viewer, have found it pretty reliable and it's so simple even the relatives can run the client software. I'd be very interested to here how people rate it compared to crossloop and others?

  7. Sandy
    November 10, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Tried CrossLoop this weekend on my systems and my F-Secure antivirus/firewall balked. Had to unload on both machines to install it and then again each time I wanted to run it. I'll have to try both showmypc and ammyy. I've got a project coming up where I'll most likely be doing a lot of after-the-fact support & don't want to be running out there all the time. Thanks for the options.

  8. BigJ
    November 10, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I agree http://showmypc.com is the best one closest to webex, slick and zero install package.

  9. Mmmbaco
    November 9, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    showmypc.com is the closest i've seen to free webex, use it all the time to un-noob the relatives pc's....

  10. Michael Natale
    November 8, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    LogMeIn rules, works great on Windows and Macs, and is free. They have a paid upgrade if you want some sexier features like file transfer. For plain old remote control it works like a charm and is completely secure. Works right through a web browser.

    Also wrt VNC and other remote control products that have been around a bit - many "security" programs classify them as threats even though they're not. They do it because in principle anything that allows remote control of your computer is a potential point of exploit.

  11. Joe
    November 8, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    awesome. thanks

  12. alfredwesterveld
    November 8, 2008 at 10:41 am

    I really like logmein.com. You can also install logmein hamachi to create vpn available for all platforms.

  13. R J
    November 8, 2008 at 10:23 am

    When I clicked the Ammyy link in the post above, Firefox threw up a warning:


    "This web site at 91.205.233.31 has been reported as an attack site and has been blocked based on your security preferences."

    I then clicked the |Why is this site blocked|which showed further 'concerning' warnings:


    Safe Browsing
    Diagnostic page for 91.205.233.0

    What is the current listing status for 91.205.233.0?
    This site is not currently listed as suspicious.
    Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 1 time(s) over the past 90 days.

    What happened when Google visited this site?
    Of the 18 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 0 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2008-11-06, and suspicious content was never found on this site within the past 90 days.

    Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?
    Over the past 90 days, 91.205.233.0 did not appear to function as an intermediary for the infection of any sites.

    Has this site hosted malware?
    Yes, this site has hosted malicious software over the past 90 days. It infected 17 domain(s), including piroposcortos.com, lextechs.com, photoactions.com.

    Is this a 'safe' application to use?

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      November 8, 2008 at 10:41 am

      I have been using it for almost 2 weeks now. I did not get that warning when visiting with either firefox 3 or IE7. As usual I run my apps in a virtual environment and watch for malware and the such. I have not had any issues with it.

  14. catester
    November 8, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    I really like CrossLoop (crossloop.com/). It's just tight VNC with a nice interface that doesn't scare the pants off my not-so-techie family, friends, and clients. It doesn't litter one's hard drive with crap like LogMeIn, can easily be uninstalled, and leaves no back door. (I know that's a downside if you want to control a machine and no one is there at the time, but that's not how I work, so it's good for me.) Works great on Vista, XP and even 9.x. If you do support for money, you can open a free account there and collect the money right then through PayPal. But you are not obligated to do it that way.

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      November 8, 2008 at 7:36 pm

      I have to check that one out. Thanks.

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