Has it ever happened to you that someone requests some help with a problem regarding their computer? You will then usually try to provide assistance over the phone. However hard you try to explain, some problems are just not resolvable on phone. At that time, you wish you had just gone and meet the person. But if the person is in another country, you have a problem. Or maybe you are abroad or at a friend’s place, and want to check how your downloads are going, or do something on your machine?
In those situations, you want to “remote control” your computer.
There are a number of software that allow to do this, starting with Windows’ Remote Desktop Connection. It works well when using windows machines over local networking. However, when you take it through the Internet, it’s slow. There is also the problem of cross-platform compatibility. What if you want to help someone running Windows while you’re on Linux? For those situations, you may want a Virtual Network Computing (VNC) software. Basically, a VNC software comes in the form of two software pieces: the server and the client. You install the server on the PC you want to control, and you connect the client (viewer) to it. The problem with VNC is that it is not beginner-friendly since it requires some configuration, and the server-client concept may not be appealing to all. Also, without some tweaking, VNC can be really slow.
If you want a really simple, cross-platform and free solution, you will want TeamViewer.
TeamViewer comes as a single package, which acts as both server and client. It is also portable, in that it can run without installation (tested on Windows only).
So how do you use it? Just download the setup file (or package), choose to install or run it directly, and you’re basically done.
Now, you’ll be presented with this screen:
Two important things are shown in that screen: An ID and a password, which are unique for your machine. Password is sessional: it changes.
To connect to a person, ask them their ID and password. Put it in the box on the right, and choose what type of connection you want. As you see, you can provide “Remote Support” which will allow you to take control of their machine, “Presentation” which is like a “view-only” mode for presentations, with minimal display elements, “File Transfer”, which allows direct transfer of files between two computers, without having to upload the file first, and “VPN”, which is as if your two computers are connected to the same local network. This mode is great for LAN gaming over Internet. However, if you want only that feature, there are better software out there, like Hamachi or Tunngle.
When you click “Connect to partner”, you’ll have to put their password. And that’s it. If you chose Remote Support, you’ll have their desktop in front of you. You can now execute commands etc, as if you were working on your own machine.
TeamViewer works across Firewalls, NAT etc, so you don’t have to configure anything if your partner or yourself have those in place.
In my opinion, that is the simplest remote controlling a computer can be, so if you want to do that, give TeamViewer a try.