This is the beginning and a very rough draft of a project to explore the best ways to help anyone that is not tech savvy and when I am not so savvy myself as well keep and operate their computer and other electronics. This industry seems to have exploded since the last time I look at it and the options are many. I have started using Linux for more and more stuff and find that to be a useful tool for me in this process as well. This will cover Windows solutions,, cross platform solutions and web based solutions as well as mobile platforms under Android systems.
Trying to help the non-computer savy (i.e. parents or such) manage their computer. It becomes tough when they have issues that stop them from even logging in or connecting but here is the beginning of my search and results from my research and trials.
I started with the article found here (http://lifehacker.com/5846072/how-do-i-troubleshoot-my-parents-pc-remotely) at Lifehacker.com. It is old and dated but has some great info. Some of the options are relevant. The first one they mention is teamview which is relevant and maybe even more so as it is better than before and many of the other options are gone or costly for occasional used like this (i.e. Logmein no longer has a free option. Neither does GoToMyPC) Teamviewer also does not require much to install and set up. Specifically it does not require port fowarding and you can connect from your phone or tablet to the other PC.
Join.me – https://www.join.me/
This could be the easiest for quick attended and inpromptu assisting. It is the one I started with due to simplicity and familiarity.
Join.me is a meeting service (free and pay) from LogMeIn that also provides remote control. It’s convenient for impromptu support in that all you need on the controlling PC is a Web browser.
The process is simple:
The user with the computer that will host the meeting (and offer control) simply surfs to the Join.me site, selects Start Meeting, and downloads and executes the joinme.exe a file. After running said file, the meeting originator (computer desiring to be controlled) we see a 9 digit meeting number or pass coade. They will pass the provided passcode to the user or users on the other end, who in turn enter the passcode in the “Join Meeting” field on the Join.me homepage. The meeting originator’s desktop will appear in the browser. Once access to the originators screen is granted, remote access control can be granted as well. The host user can click on the small circle containing 3 dots at the top of the page and select “Share mouse control”or the guest can do the same to request it and then the host grant it. You can chat, send files, and more. This will give the guest who joined the ability to control the mouse and keyboard. That is it and you are in. It is simple, easy, and free requires little knowledge of computers at all to operate.
This does not require a download on the guests side, only the host who is wanting to be controlled. Easy-peasy, but note that Join.me isn’t suited for unattended remote control, which makes it only a partial replacement for LogMeIn.
I did also notice that it is not a perfect desktop share. As I was trying to install software and run programs remotely, there are things I could not see on the host PC. Pop windows asking for permission or other messages were almost never visible or accessible from the guest computer even when I had full access to share the screen and control the mouse and keyboard. This is where it shows its true colors and that it was primarily designed as a collarboration and team based tool. There was also more delay between me moving the mouse and it actually moving on the host computer. Enough that I clicked the wrong item several times.
All-in-all, it is a web based tool that does require installation and only the host computer has to download anything. It is a great tool that I am sure I will use again and reccomend for initial and light weight sharing of computers and resources. It will not however, be my goto solution. That falls to Teamviewer at this time.
TeamViewer — http://www.teamviewer.com/en/index.aspx
I used join.me to start the process repairing my parents computer but quickly moved to TeamViewer which operated in real time and responded much faster to mouse and keyboard input. As soon as I set up the short cut on the host PC, it became even easier to start up than Join.met. Believe me that easy and simple operation is important when dealing with people not that familiar with computers! I actually used join.me to download TeamViewer Portable on the host PC remotely so that I could run it with no install. They had so many isssues going on, that I was not sure their PC would install it properly anyway.
Team View is free for personal use and cross platform compatible, even the portable version I mentioned. Here are some of the other benefits of this program.
Start and use TeamViewer instantly. TeamViewer even works behind firewalls and automatically detects any proxy configuration.
Free for testing and personal use
Test TeamViewer for free, without having to provide any personal information. Also, use the software at home for personal use free of charge.
Cross-platform PC to PC, mobile to PC, and PC to mobile connections that support Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, iOS, Android, Windows App, BlackBerry and a portable version.
TeamViewer runs on a broad spectrum of operating systems ranging from state-of-the-art system software to older operating systems.
Start and use TeamViewer instantly. TeamViewer even works behind firewalls and automatically detects any proxy configuration.
Easy to understand
Enjoy a state-of-the-art user interface that is clearly arranged, simple, touch-friendly, and quick to operate.
It can be installed and set up for unattended use.
This is now my go to software for remote access for my family members PC that I am trying to help trouble shoot or help them with.
There are many other applications that can assist with this and I have many listed after the break below. I also have links to websites that have info that I found to be helpful. There is even information and links about recovering PC that are in trouble from a remote location. I have not used most of these applications but wanted to list them for you here.
Good hunting and I hope my experience has helped.
RealVNC — http://www.realvnc.com/
WebEx Free — http://www.webex.com/
Info on recovery and rebooting:
What it is dead and you need to recover or rescue it from that status. Obviously start with all the easy things like plugs, connectors, batteries, updates, security scans etc. Test the hardware if possible. If you are past all that and pretty sure it is software or can not get there becuase you are stopped by the software, you need a rescue disk of some kind.
There are several ways. First of all, is there a rescue USB drive or CD that was created on their machine when it was operating properly? If so, that is probably the place to start. Here is how to create one: http://www.techradar.com/us/news/software/operating-systems/how-to-create-a-windows-rescue-usb-stick-984726
Downloaded the “Media Creation Tool” and use it to create the bootable “Upgrade/Install USB” to Win10. After upgrading the systems you can wipe them out and used the same device to do a “CLEAN” install of Win10 on all of the machines in your home.
USB Windows Installation Disk:
If you are looking to create the ultimate rescue USB here is an article on that:
Linux to the rescue: How to use Ubuntu to rescue a failed PC
Ubuntu has a Live CD option that creates a bootable CD and a non logging session that installs nothing and leaves nothing but is crazy powerful and will work on older machines that will not boot from a USB drive. Here is a great article: http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/31804/the-10-cleverest-ways-to-use-linux-to-fix-your-windows-pc/
You can use it to make and image of the entire hard drive: http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/use-ubuntu-live-cd-to-backup-files-from-your-dead-windows-computer/
If there will boot from a thumb drive then you can create a full bootable version of Ubuntu that will allow you to install programs and save settings to the drive for future use.
If you do have access to your parents computer before you head off for college, you may consider setting up VNC, which is completely free remote management for Mac, Windows, and Linux, but does require that you set up port forwarding on your parents’ router (if they have one,) change the default port that VNC operates on, and lock down the connection with a username and password. Additionally, you’ll have to install the VNC server on their desktop and the client on yours. VNC is a great, completely free option that gives you a way to connect directly without a middleman in the way. Also, there are dozens of different VNC applications, so you can pick one that works on your OS and works best with your connection. However, VNC also means that if you have trouble connecting, you’re on your own figuring it out – there’s no support line to call if you or your parents have problems. If you want to go that route, here’s a guide that can help you get set up.
Remote Desktop has been included in every version of Windows from XP on.
It does require you to either do or talk the the other user through these two steps:
1) Enabling remote desktop (rt-click My Computer—>Properties—>Remote—>Allow Users to Connect Remotely…).
2) Browse to WhatIsMyIP.com to get the address you will use to connect.
If the computer to be controlled has a simple single connection from a computer to the internet modem, this should work. If it is connecting wirelessly or through a router, then port forwarding will need to be set up and that is usually too complicated to do over the phone and should be prepared in advance. For those that want to consider it, the default RDP port to forward is 3389.
RDP apps abound for computers, tablets and smartphones making it possible to easily support mom and pop from anywhere at a moments’ notice.
Nothing is more versatile and full featured than RDP, certainly nothing free.
The basic concept behind Windows Remote Desktop is to let users control their office computer remotely so that they can work from home. Hence, although all versions of Windows (Basic, Home, and so on) can establish a Remote Desktop connection and control a PC, only the Professional, Business, and Ultimate versions of Windows can be controlled.
As most office computers are one among many on a network, you need to have the office router tweaked to forward a port (3389) to the PC you want to control. You can edit the Registry to allow control of more than one PC by adding more ports, but that’s a very techie task.
Microsoft Live Mesh is a good consideration as well. The live service lets it cut through firewalls easily. It’s also a very easy install since it is packaged in the Windows Updates in the optional catagory (simplifies the install and does so from a trusted source).
VNC comes in many flavors. Some with little to no support and require knowledge and experience to operate. It can be tricky to set up if you are trying to walk someone through it over the phone. Here is a good example.
Free for personal use
The widest platform support in the business. Control a huge range of Windows, Mac, Linux, and UNIX computers from practically any desktop, or from iOS, Android and Chrome-powered devices wherever you happen to be.
Our customers use VNC to remotely access office computers from home, provide support to staff, customers or friends and family, collaborate on projects, demonstrate to classes, virtualize software or services, conduct automated tests, and much more. So whenever you need to connect people and devices, VNC provides the answer.
Intuitive to use
VNC is simplicity itself. There’s a VNC Server app for the computer you want to control, and a VNC Viewer app for the device you want to connect from. Connect the two, and VNC Server continuously transmits screen updates to VNC Viewer, which sends back your keyboard, mouse and touch inputs as you make them. And the user interface is available in English, French, German and Spanish.
VNC, or Virtual Network Computing, isn’t itself a product, but an open-source remote-control and display technology that’s implemented by Tight VNC (free), Ultra VNC (free) and RealVNC (free and pay), among other parties. VNC isn’t hard to use, but it’s not as simple as Join.me and TeamViewer, which don’t require user knowledge of IP addresses.
VNC is a good option if you need to control multiple PCs regularly.
To use VNC, install it on both the PCs you want to connect and then set them to listening. To control another PC, simply open the VNC viewer (client), enter the PC’s IP address, and have at it. You may also have to open port 5900 on your firewall and router, and to direct said port to the PC you want to control.
You can use VNC to connect to multiple PCs behind a public IP by opening and using more ports. Most VNC implementations install both the server and viewer software by default, so (as with TeamViewer) you can control in either direction.
Though it’s a tad difficult to set up, VNC is cross-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux), and it works extremely well once installed.
Another to research for the purpose is WebEx
WebEx Free: Not just for multiuser meetings.
Most users think of WebEx as a tool for multiuser boardroom meetings, but it’s also perfectly suitable for small-scale, live (not unattended) remote control and support. WebEx works a little differently from Join.me in that installing software is required at both ends, but that’s a relatively painless procedure.
Once users have joined the meeting, initially they can only view the originator’s desktop, but the originator can make another person the presenter, pass control over the mouse and keyboard, and share files, chat, and utilize webcams for face-to-face interaction. There’s a bit of a learning curve if you stray from the main features (available from the usual drop-down panel at the top of the display), but overall WebEx is quite easy to use.