Your work computer has everything you need for a productive day. Loaded on that machine are all the programs you use, as well as every file and document you're working on. But you can't bring your bulky work machine everywhere – and with the right mobile software, you won't need to. Remote desktop applications such as Microsoft Remote Desktop, available for iOS and Android devices, turns your smartphone or tablet into an extension of your desktop workstation.
A remote desktop app is like a direct portal back to your workstation, allowing you to virtually access your entire Windows desktop, including your applications and files. Setting up your remote desktop takes some effort – but it's worth it. If you run a small or midsize business, here are five reasons to give remote desktop apps for iOS or Android devices a chance.
1. Never forget a file again
A tablet, or even a smartphone, can be a good tool to help you stay productive when you're away from the office, but it's hard to work when all of your files are stuck on your office PC. Cloud storage platforms such as Dropbox or SkyDrive are good solutions to ensure you have access to your files from any Web-connected device, but it's easy to leave an important document sitting on your PC desktop at work. In that situation, a mobile remote desktop app can be a lifesaver, allowing you to quickly access your work machine directly and grab the file you need.
2. Keep your files secure
If you're dealing with sensitive or confidential client data, mobile remote desktop access could be especially enticing. Cloud storage services such as Dropbox are reasonably secure; everything you upload to that service is encrypted and downloads over a secure HTTPS connection. But that doesn't mean the password to your Dropbox account is uncrackable. If someone wants to access your files badly enough, they may be able to do it. Instead of uploading private files to the cloud, business users can access them in a more secure fashion by connecting directly to their work PC.
3. Access desktop applications
Mobile apps are getting more advanced, but in terms of features and functionality, the offerings on iOS and Android devices can't always match up to their desktop counterparts. Remote desktop apps allow you to access the desktop programs you use in the office, right on your tablet or smartphone. That means you can take advantage of the full versions of Microsoft Word or Excel right from your smartphone or tablet, for example, to view and edit documents from anywhere. This functionality is especially useful if you're using your mobile device to access a Windows 8 PC. That operating system was designed from the ground-up for touch-screen devices, so Windows 8 programs are right at home on your iPad or Android tablet. Using a Windows programs on the cramped screen of your smartphone, on the other hand, is a bit tricky, but it could work in a pinch.
4. Flexible mobile multitasking
Mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS were designed to display one app on the screen at a time. Real mobile multitasking, however, requires the ability to view two or more apps at the same time. Certain devices such as Samsung's Galaxy line of Android tablets do include limited multi-window functionality, but they can't match the flexible, window-based multitasking of desktop operating systems. That's where remote desktop apps come in: they allow you to use your desktop applications the way you use them at work, with as many or as few windows on screen at once as you like, and with few compromises in your regular workflow. Pair your remote desktop with a Bluetooth keyboard to turn your iPad or Android tablet into a super-portable work machine.
5. Tech support on the go
You rely on your desktop workstation to run your business every day, but technical difficulties and computer errors can bring your work to a screeching halt at any time. Mobile remote desktop apps can allow a computer professional – or simply a knowledgeable friend -- to access your work PC and address the problem directly, so you can get back to work as soon as possible. Meanwhile, if you have employees, using a remote desktop app allows you to connect to their work computers to troubleshoot a problem from wherever you happen to be.