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Updated Oct 23, 2023

What Is Remote Desktop Software?

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Shayna Waltower, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer

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Spreadsheets, documents, file folders – they’re all digital items employees or managers might need to access on a regular workday. If your team works remotely, you need a way to access this information without physically transferring it.

Remote desktop software provides a solution to this issue while acting as a helpful tool for IT support teams that need to troubleshoot and fix devices remotely. We’ll explore remote desktop software, how it works and how it can benefit your company. We’ll also highlight some excellent remote desktop solutions to consider. 

What is remote desktop software?

Remote desktop software is a technology tool that lets you connect to and access a desktop computer remotely. With this software, you can use one computer to connect to another to access files and perform functions on your desktop as if you were using the remote computer directly.

For example, you might want to access your office desktop from your computer at home. With remote desktop software, you can use your home computer to open applications, start updates, and transfer files on your office computer.

How does remote desktop software work?

Remote desktop software links your remote computer to the host computer via the internet or another network connection. To establish this connection, you’ll need to download and install the software on both devices so that they can communicate with each other. With this connection, the software lets you take control of the host computer while using your remote computer.

Remote desktop software uses Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to make the initial connection and transfer data between the desktop and a remote device. RDP is a proprietary Microsoft system that encrypts the data and runs applications through a secure network.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
Remote desktop software uses an internet connection to link your remote device with your desktop.

Why would a business use remote desktop access software?

Businesses across many industries use remote desktop software to provide smoother experiences for their employees and customers. Here are the main use cases for remote desktop software in business:

  • IT solutions: With a remote desktop IT solution, an IT representative can connect to a user’s desktop to identify and resolve issues. This software can be ideal for businesses with multiple locations, as one team can remotely support employees across several branches. 
  • Customer support: For businesses offering digital services to their customers, remote desktop software allows a customer support representative to connect remotely to a customer’s desktop. The representative can then see the customer’s issue and immediately address it without scheduling an in-person appointment.
  • Remote employees: Remote desktop software connects remote employees from their offices at home (or anywhere) to workstations within the business’s office. This way, remote team members can access the data and other files they need without visiting the office.

The benefits of remote desktop software

Whether you want to give your customers IT assistance or support your remote employees, remote desktop software can be highly beneficial. Below are a few benefits of using this software.


According to Gallup data, roughly 45% of employees worked from home at least part of the week in September 2021. Of course, remote work became much more prevalent with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies needed to run their usual processes while prioritizing employee safety, so remote work was the only way forward. Remote desktop software has helped immeasurably with this transition.

Without remote desktop software, teams transitioning from in-office work to a virtual arrangement would still have to commute to their offices regularly to download files, print documents and complete other actions on their in-office desktops. However, remote desktop software lets employees accomplish many of their responsibilities at home, in a coffee shop or even in another country.

Simple setup 

Unlike many other tech services, remote desktop software doesn’t involve a complicated installation or configuration process. In most cases, you can install the program yourself without calling in a specialist.

Some programs require installing the software on both the host computer and the remote device. With others, only the host computer needs the software. You can then use a web link or access code on your remote device to connect to the host computer. Either way, setup takes just a few minutes.


Many remote desktop services have multiple plan options. You can assess several factors to determine which plan is best for your business. For example, pricing is often based on how many computers or employees you must connect.

Some remote desktop programs have plans for one user who wants to access just one or two computers. Other plans allow 100 employees to access their desktops.

Easy collaboration

Though employees might be working in different places, they still must work together. With remote desktop software, employees can easily share files and more effectively collaborate through shared or mirrored screens.

For example, one employee might want to show another how to change a setting within a work application. The first employee can access the second employee’s desktop and perform actions on it without having to download the application on their device.

Some other helpful tools for a remote team that foster connection and collaboration are Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams.

The best remote desktop software platforms

Below are some of our recommendations to help you find the best remote PC access software for your company. Each program has unique features and pricing, so assess the needs of your company and employees before you decide. From there, compare each program’s features and costs to your budget and needs.


Splashtop is a remote access software program that allows you to access an unattended desktop. With Splashtop, you can look at multiple monitors at one time. It also allows more than one user to access the same desktop. Its installation process is easy as well – no IT professional needed.

Splashtop easily integrates with many business programs to serve as a seamless addition to your current processes. It features data encryption so that you can securely send and receive files between your devices. Its business plans start at $5 per user per month.

Read our in-depth Splashtop review to learn more. 

ConnectWise Control

ConnectWise Control specializes in providing teams with efficient tools for interacting with customers and other employees. This program features VoIP, so companies can use their current communication tools to provide premium support to customers.

ConnectWise Control can be especially useful for IT teams, as it allows them to capture sound from another desktop to identify and assess issues. It also works with more than 100 other programs and extensions to give users flexibility and a wide range of options. Its plans start at $24 per user per month.

Read our review of ConnectWise Control for more information.

Zoho Assist

An all-in-one support tool, Zoho Assist gives your business options for both remote support and unattended desktop access. The platform’s user interface allows users to switch between these two services easily without exiting the program.

To assist a customer, send them a link that allows them to download the program and join your session. Zoho Assist also features options for text, voice and video chat to make support sessions a bit easier.

To access an unattended desktop, you’ll need to have the software installed on the device and then select that desktop on your remote computer. 

The Zoho platform offers a free basic plan that allows one support technician to access up to five unattended computers. Paid plans start at $10 per month, with flat rates for unattended desktop access and per-user rates for remote support plans.

To learn more, read our in-depth Zoho Assist review


GoToAssist offers remote support and desktop access in one subscription. It’s an ideal option for IT support teams. Customers don’t have to download any software to their devices. Instead, they click an email link to join your session.

Additionally, GoToAssist can give you access to up to 10,000 unattended devices. This makes GoToAssist a strong option for companies that frequently offer IT support to a large customer base. The standard plan is priced at $55 per month.

Learn more in our review of GoToAssist.

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Shayna Waltower, Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
Shayna Waltower is a business journalist with a multimedia background. She spent years doing on-the-ground reporting in local communities from coast to coast before narrowing her focus to helping small businesses nationwide streamline operations, attract customers and improve profitability. Waltower, with her previous experience in storytelling across mediums (broadcast, social media, etc.), enjoys not only producing digestible guides for business owners that break down complex topics but also helping entrepreneurs competently convey their brand stories to consumers. Over the years, Waltower has developed expertise in a number of wide-ranging but critical business areas and topics, including POS systems, workplace management and cybersecurity.
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