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Remote control: the long arm of support gets more fingers

Test shows a plethora of painless PC remote-control wares

By James E. Gaskin, Network World Lab Alliance, Network World
January 22, 2007 12:05 AM ET

Network World - It was more than two decades ago when pcAnywhere hit the streets as the first remote-control tool that helped administrators address problems with distributed PCs and offered file transfer and instant messaging capabilities, crawling along at 2400 baud.

Today remote-control tools have multiplied in number, evolving to run faster and look better, and making it easy to drive another computer located across the hall or around the world.

In this Clear Choice Test of nine remote-control products on the market (we invited all remote-control vendors, but some declined), we found that all offerings cover the basics.

They encrypt traffic between systems; help perform file transfers; and offer some level of logging activities, instant messaging and printer redirection. The feature list for each product spans from minimal to extensive.

The good news is that network administrators can choose a small and lean product if they simply need to remotely support PCs, or a more comprehensive offering to monitor every internal function of remote PC, Linux and Macintosh systems.

One complication we found almost across the board was that while the push-installation method was a great success on Windows 2000 systems, Windows XP Service Pack 2 blocks such operations. You can tweak the XP units to accept the pushed software, but your time is better spent installing and configuring the remote-side software on units that will be controlled by a central administrator.

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