Are you trying to find simple-to-use remote-access software for your business? We're here to help you find the choice that's right for you. While some remote PC access software is appropriate for larger businesses, we found four options that we think are best for small business or freelancers' needs.
Why use remote PC access software?
Remote-access software is used for a variety of reasons. The simplest scenario is to support remote or traveling workers. With the software, remote workers can share files, collaborate with one another and access other devices, even printers and tablets. This software can also be used by IT support persons to manage PCs or other devices, and by sales or service reps to assist external customers. The best remote-access software can support all these scenarios.
The benefits of remote PC access software include:
- Limited client-side configuration required
- Multiplatform compatible
- Reporting and session-management features
- Often includes meeting and collaboration tools
- Provides remote customer-support tools
In terms of pricing, some features are free and others are charged per user. In most cases, users are limited by how many computers they can access. The upgraded or pro versions often support access to more computers or end points. Some plans are priced as low as around $10 per month for a simple package, whereas corporate plans often require that you request a quote for exact pricing. You may be required to pay for a year in advance.
How we evaluated online remote PC access software
Business.com, a sister site of Business News Daily, has been testing remote support software since 2010. We accessed the most recent results from controlled lab tests for popular remote-access products to help you find the best option to suit your business needs. We considered things such as connection times, security protocols, controlled-environment transfer speeds and how simple it is to set up the host and client side (the computer accessing a remote device and the device being accessed, respectively).
To help limit issues produced by varying internet speeds and network bandwidth issues, the products were tested in a controlled lab environment and tested multiple times. The sample files that were shared included numerous file types, and each product was tested using the same set of files. The products were tested using Windows-based PCs, Macs and iPads, and different types of connections were tested, such as Mac to PC and tablet to PC. Most products had issues on tablets, so if you frequently use them for work, you'll benefit from testing the software first.
You may be wondering what these services can provide that Windows and Mac OS don't already offer. Our own IT team uses TeamViewer instead of the free tools because the OS remote-access features are too limited for the number of machines the company has. If you just need to connect a few PCs for remote desktop control, you may be able to make do with OS features, but if you want to do any more than that, you'll be more satisfied with a remote PC service.
After looking over Business.com's test results, talking with the reviewers, evaluating the remote-access dashboards and conducting our own research, we found the best three remote PC access products for small businesses, plus one honorable mention.
Top picks for small business remote access software
Multiplatform support includes LastPass password manager, 1TB of file storage, multiple monitor support, remote printing, SSL/TLS security and event log; on-demand versions available
LogMeIn provides a general-use "Pro" version and a "Rescue" version, which is more suitable for assisting those outside your company. The Pro version includes collaboration and access tools. The Rescue version provides quick-connection technologies for providing remote support. The introductory Pro version starts at $149 per year. It is merging with Citrix's GoTo products, which include GoToMyPC.
The Pro version provides file access with a large storage allotment, access to applications, remote access, multiple monitor support and remote printing. Each account comes with a TB of storage and an advanced password manager. Our testers found PC-to-PC or Mac-to-PC sharing to be simple, but the tablet options were limited to manager (host) sharing only. The Rescue version is designed for those who provide service to external customers. It reports a connection time to new clients of less than 20 seconds. This version removes the client-side element when it disconnects from customer's systems, and it works around firewalls. It manages up to 10 sessions at once and includes instant chat.
Our reviewers found installation to be simpler than with most of the competition; it takes only three steps to set up the administrator profile. The client side is set up using a download link, which the client needs to install. However, the Rescue version for providing external support does not require this. File transfers proved to be quick. LogMeIn took an average of 10 seconds to transfer the files; the fastest product averaged 2 seconds and the slowest 35 minutes.
LogMeIn says that security is the company's "most important design objective." The software's connection is similar to that of a secure website, and does not require the client to adjust firewalls. LogMeIn uses secure servers, encrypted data transfers and employee-intrusion-detection technologies. For added security, you can add the Central subscription, which includes the world-class Kaspersky end-point protection.You can log in to LogMeIn using a PC, Mac or mobile device. Credit: LogMeIn
Multiplatform support, client-side no configuration options, works around firewalls, compatible with older operating systems, available in 30 languages, 256-bit encryption, two-way file sharing
TeamViewer supports 20 million devices at any given time. Ninety percent of Fortune 500 companies use TeamViewer products for advanced remote access, meetings and customer support. Personal versions are free, and perpetual licenses start at $809 per year.
This remote PC service provides three product types: remote support, remote access and meeting. TTR tested the host and client side of the remote-access version and found TeamViewer to have some of the fastest connect times and smallest lag times. Even iPads were able to quickly connect in these controlled tests. Reviewers found it simple to share files both ways, and the software was able to switch host and client, which many find useful in IT situations.
TeamViewer includes an extensive list of access features. It connects without a VPN (virtual private network), and it can work around firewalls. For larger operations, it supports mass deployments, policies and security protocols. It can be used to perform maintenance tasks on a variety of end points, including unattended devices. For collaboration, it supports not only file sharing, but also chat, whiteboard, remote audio, VoIP and session recording. It is compatible with most work environments, including Linux support.
For security, it employs 256-bit encryption, two-factor authentications, Verisign code signing and session passwords. TeamViewer says it can provide HIPAA-level support and that it secures its own services with access control and 24-hour monitoring. With cybercrime efforts increasing rapidly, the company is continually updating security measures, particularly after a 2016 incident regarding compromised TeamViewer accounts.Using TeamViewer you can easily see what devices you can instantly connect to. Credit: TeamViewer
Multiplatform support, 24-hour technical support, low-cost versions, advanced versions available, two-way file transfers, multiscreen support, quick transfer times
GoToMyPC is part of the "GoTo" Citrix product family, which will soon merge with LogMeIn. It is cross-platform compatible and works with multiple screens. This particular version is generally designed for remote working, rather than customer support. However, other products such as GoToAssist and GoToMeeting can support remote assistance and live collaboration.
This remote-access version is designed to be simple to use and ideal for enabling remote or traveling workers to work from anywhere, from any device. It can collaborate between PCs and Macs, and even works with Kindle devices. It can transfer files both ways, supports multiple monitors, can transfer sound from the accessed computer and comes with 128-bit AES encryption. You can easily create a desktop shortcut to quickly access connected devices and make guest invites to allow temporary access when needed. Citrix provides 24-hour support for service upgrades and technical assistance.
TTR found the host and client site to be simple to set up, and installation times were speedy. File transfers, chat and drawing were quicker than on any of the other services, and lag time was negligible. Reviewers found that PC-to-PC functions work well, but learned that Mac functions, like Mac-to-PC chat, were quite limited. If you need to work with a lot of Mac systems, you may want to consider another option. It should also be noted that with most services, features may be limited when working with tablets.
GoToMyPC includes the usual security protocols, such as HTTPS connections, encrypted data transfers, denial of service (DOS) protection, two-step verifications, secure host servers, end-to-end authentications and inactivity time-out.
The merge with LogMeIn is expected to occur in Q1 of 2017. We are not sure how it will change the services currently offered, but will update our reviews accordingly. For now, however, we have reviewed these products separately.GoToMyPC provides a simple chat tool. Credit: GoToMyPC
256-bit encryption, IT support features, unattended access, online meeting support, zero install clients, works around firewalls, can remotely uninstall client-side
Unlike a lot of personal or consumer-type products, ScreenConnect includes a lot of features specifically for IT or support persons. If you need to manage your business computers, provide customer support or support remote workers, this might be a product to consider. It includes a lot of features used specifically for supporting customers and managing sessions. It supports things like ad-hoc sessions, remote installs, multiple invitation options and session notes. However, it should be noted that in TTR tests, things moved rather slowly, such as connect times and file transfers. The reviewers thought the feature set offset the slow lag times, but you may disagree, so you'll want to test the product yourself before purchasing.It's simple to manage sessions with ScreenConnect. Credit: ScreenConnect
All of the above services offer free trial versions, and even some free personal-use versions, so you can easily try the different services to see which works best for you. If you work in IT, you can check out our remote access picks and complete details on our sister site, Tom's IT Pro. For simple testing, we'd suggest you connect a PC with a remote laptop or another PC, so you can see both host and client-side features.