• United States

Product Peek: pcAnywhere 11.0

Aug 04, 20033 mins

Remote control software products have been around for a long time. Symantec acquired pcAnywhere in 1991 with its purchase of Dynamic Microprocessor Associates. Many functions included in the early versions of this type of program, such as remote troubleshooting, Microsoft incorporated into its operating system. For example, Windows 2000 and later let an IT manager remotely manage other computers with the same tool you use to manage the local machine.

The obvious question becomes “Why pay for something that comes with the operating system?” Symantec’s answer is to offer additional features and enhancements.

One of the most painful and often most time consuming parts of deploying software such as pcAnywhere is installing the client. Symantec addressed that issue in this version with its Quick Connect and Deploy feature. With this feature, we could now control a target computer over our network in less than 5 minutes. In the past, it might have required a visit to the remote machine if you didn’t have another software distribution tool.

Remote management also receives a lot of attention in this release. Many common remote management tasks such as registry editing, command prompt access and system shutdown/reboot do not require a remote control session. For the security conscious, pcAnywhere 11 supports 13 authentication types, including SecurID.

Many user interface enhancements went into this release, including the use of folders, favorites and a history feature. The basic remote control process is quite responsive, and includes a full screen mode that works very well. Several little features, such as the ability to transfer the clipboard either to or from the target machine, make it easy to copy things such as a license key between machines. You also can capture the current screen or record an entire remote session for later playback. The only downside to the record capability is that Symantec uses a proprietary format for saving the recording, meaning you’ll need their software to play it back as well.

File transfer is another area that most people take for granted. PcAnywhere provides a secure file transfer capability that now works in the background. You can queue up a number of files to transfer in order. A folder synchronize feature makes sure the files are the same on both machines, while a folder clone option copies all files in a folder from one machine to another. The command queue makes it possible to automate file transfer tasks such as folder synchronization, and schedule them to run at a specific time using the Windows task scheduler.

So the question remains – is the product enough of an improvement over the basic Windows features to warrant a purchase? The answer depends on your situation. If your network is small and in a single location with a limited number of servers to support, you probably don’t need it. If you need to connect to remote systems over various types of connections, and need to perform the types of tasks that pcAnywhere supports, you’ll do well by this product.

Ferrill can be reached at

Product info

pcAnywhere 11.0


Cupertino, Calif.

Cost: Host and remote $199.95, remote only $99.95

Pros: Tons of new features and usability enhancements; responsive remote control and timesaving remote management features

Cons: Proprietary file format for screen capture and session recording makes it harder to share those files.


Paul Ferrill has been writing about computers and networking for more than 25 years. He's had articles published in InfoWorld, Network World, PC Magazine, and a wide range of other publications. He's also the author of two books and currently working on a third.

More from this author