Increasingly, people and businesses need to connect with computers that are not in their offices. Telecommuting is on the rise, with a 20 percent increase since 2012 in the US and 30 percent increase in the UK. Studies show that people who work from home work longer and are happier. As a result, employers see a higher productivity (13 percent according to a study by Stanford University) and have higher employee-retention rates. That means more money for your business.
Remote PC access software makes it easier than ever to reach an office computer from another computer or a mobile device. You or your employees can work from home regularly or as need arises – or if you're out to dinner and suddenly remember an important email that must be sent before morning, you can get on your phone or tablet, access your work computer and get it off between the appetizers and the main course.
Because this software lets you work your remote computer as if you were sitting in front of it, it's ideal for IT work. Many of the programs we reviewed are complete enough to suit a business IT department while being simple enough you can use it at home to help Grandma clear out the virus infecting her computer. Some of the programs even allow for web conferencing, so you can use them for demos, classes or working on group projects when everyone is scattered across the country.
Whatever your reason is, remote PC access can simplify your life and help you become more productive and connected.
To learn more about what the top services can do for you, see our award winners: GoToMyPC, LogMeIn and TeamViewer. Our learning center provides you with informative articles about remote access software.
The best remote PC software is easy to use, secure, fast and flexible. We tested the software on its ease to install and understand, its flexibility in access options and security, and its speed in common tasks. We not only tested Windows PC to Windows PC, but also Windows PC to Mac and mobile access whenever a service offered them. In a remote session, we played videos and YouTube, downloaded a 659 MB video file, tried to copy and paste between computers, and explored other features to get a feel for how intuitive the interface was. We checked the knowledgebase, contacted customer support about features and help as needed. All the software performed well, but some are better overall, while a few are better in a particular specialty. In general, we considered these tools and features.
Remote Access Features
Being able to access applications and share files and desktops is a given for software that lets you access a computer remotely, so we looked for more advanced abilities, such as the ability to work with a remote computer that has multiple monitors. By accessing multiple computers, you can set up demos or install updates to several computers at once without having to go to each individually. With cross-platform support, PCs and Macs can interact, so it doesn't matter if you or your employee has one at work but another at home. Another useful feature, called grouping, lets you access multiple computers at once. It's especially useful for IT, as your technical staff can then implement updates or installs on multiple computers at once without having to travel between them.
Whether you are using remote access software for IT support or telecommuting, speed and ease can make the difference between a productive session and one that leaves you frustrated. We tested speed by transferring a 659MB file between computers as well as streaming video on YouTube and QuickTime and checking for lag. Finally, we ran a graphics-heavy website design program to check for lag. For ease, we looked at the interface: How easy was it to find and use the various tools? Did we need multiple clicks? Did we have to hunt for the instructions? A score of 75 percent means you'll want to spend some time practicing with the software and reading the user guide.
People are using smartphones for far more than calls, and tablets have become as useful as laptops. Many companies recognize that and have made their remote PC control software mobile-ready as well.
Sharing tools refers to the two-way communications between the remote PC and the local device. This includes chats or web conferencing, or the ability to keep notes on a shared clipboard for later reference. While all software feature file synchronizing, the ability to drag and drop files between computers is an added convenience. Sometimes, you only need to access a remote computer once, such as when helping your grandson learn a new program. In those cases, a guest invite that's simple to download and non-invasive is a plus. As with the remote features, we looked at the interface to see how intuitive these tools are and whether they required seeking out instruction. While 70 percent seems a low score, keep in mind that this is a comparison of the top remote PC access software available.
Secure transmissions are necessary when working with remote computers. The industry standard is 128-bit encryption, but more financial and government institutions are moving toward 256 bits. Passwords are a given for any remote PC access software, so we checked for IP filtering so that you can block access from specific computers even if the person has the password – a disgruntled ex-employee, for example. Locking screens and keyboards so those near the remote PC cannot see what is going on allows you to work in privacy even when your computer is in an open office. An automatic time-out feature protects your computer from someone accessing it should you or an employee forget to log out from a session. Our setup score takes all these features into account along with the ease of setting and changing them.
Help & Support
As with any new program, there's always the possibility that a feature proves challenging or a problem arises. While you can reach any of these products' technical support via email or help ticket, the best remote services provide free one-on-one telephone and chat support. Comprehensive documentation in the form of a user manual, help files and a searchable knowledgebase online is also helpful, particularly when the live tech support is only available during business hours or is located in another country, as is the case with some of our reviewed services.
It's not always possible or convenient to take your computer wherever you go, but there are times when having quick contact with another computer can mean the difference between a successful day and a disaster. In a longer-term view, accessing computers remotely means employees can work from home, which can save your company time and energy while increasing performance and job satisfaction. Remote PC access software lets you access your computers anytime, anywhere.