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Remote access software lets you access your home or office computer from another location and also allows you to grant others access to specified files or programs on your computer. You can even take over the mouse and keyboard of the remote computer you’ve connected to as if you’re sitting in front of that PC. And some software lets you access a remote PC from your mobile device.
Some versions of Windows have their own built-in remote desktop software, but there are many alternatives that offer better functionality and more features. The best remote desktop software is extremely easy to use and requires little to no computer tech knowledge.
Remote desktop software works by creating an internet or network connection between a local and remote computer. Installation varies by the software you’re using, but typically you’re required to install the app on the remote computer you want to connect to. You’ll get an access ID or key that you can share with someone else so they can access that computer. You can also log in on the remote, or host, computer to add another computer to your account for easy access anytime.
When the local computer user requests access to the host, the remote computer will authenticate the local user. Once verified, the local user can access the entire desktop or specified files or programs on the remote computer.
You’ll often see “unattended sessions” mentioned by various software companies. This term simply means that the remote computer can be accessed without a user being present. All of the software products we include in our reviews allow for unattended sessions. Some software can even wake up sleeping remote computers and lock the mouse and keyboard once the session is done. You can also set a remote computer to block keyboard and mouse takeover if you prefer.
Popular Uses Of Remote Desktop Software
Depending on the software, there are numerous uses for remote desktop access. Here are just a few ways you can use this software.
- Remotely help a family member troubleshoot computer issues.
- Access your computer at work while you’re traveling or working on your home computer.
- Remote colleagues can share large files and collaborate in various programs.
- IT professionals can solve employee computer problems.
We based our winners on several criteria, including features offered, ease of set up and use, reliable performance, pricing and other factors.
LogMeIn Pro is one of the most popular remote desktop software options. Its features are geared toward large businesses, but it’s a more affordable option than its main competitor, TeamViewer. You also get some perks you won’t find elsewhere, like 1 TB of cloud storage and LastPass Premium (a password manager service) subscriptions included in every plan. With LogMeIn, you can either use the app or access most features through any web browser. Unfortunately, LogMeIn no longer offers a free version.
LogMeIn Pro offers a 14-day free trial, and they require you to purchase an annual license.
|Individuals||Power Users||Small Businesses|
|Price Per Year||$360||$840||$1,548|
|Number of Computers You Can Access||2||5||10|
|LastPass Premium Licenses||1||3||5|
IDrive’s RemotePC offers a free version (one user, one computer access), an affordable plan for small businesses, robust features for large businesses and a help desk plan for IT departments. It’s available across multiple platforms and devices and is extremely easy to set up and connect. And you can gain access from a browser instead of going through the app.
Although RemotePC lacks whiteboard capability and the ability to view more than one remote screen in the same window, this software is an excellent value for small businesses that don’t need these features.
RemotePC offers a 30-day free trial for its Team and Enterprise plans. You’re required to purchase an annual license.
|Price Per Year||Free||$52.12||$374.62|
|Number of Users||1||1||Unlimited|
|Number of Computers You Can Access||1||10||100|
TeamViewer is ideal for corporate, enterprise-level users and IT departments, but it also has a powerful free version for non-commercial use. This feature-packed software supports multiple platforms and devices with some of the strongest security we’ve seen in a remote access tool. You get full-time access to remote computers and servers with the ability to manage multiple systems at once. It also includes easy file sharing, a VPN alternative and online meetings for up to 25 participants.
Note: If you’re looking for a free version for one person to remote into one computer, we’d suggest going with RemotePC or AnyDesk over TeamViewer. We found numerous complaints from users that TeamViewer blocked their account for the free version.
TeamViewer requires you to purchase an annual license.
|Price Per Year||Free||$588||$1,188||$2,388|
|Number of Users||1||1||Multiple||Multiple|
|Number of Simultaneous Sessions||1||1||1||3|
|Best Overall: LogMeIn||Best For Small Business: Remote PC||Best For Enterprises: TeamViewer||AnyDesk||GoToMyPC||SplashTop|
|Free Trial||14 days||30 days||7 days||7 days|
|Lowest Price |
|Full Features in Windows|
|Full Features in Mac|
|Drag-and-Drop File Transfer|
|Video Record Your Sessions|
AnyDesk is another popular remote access software for small and large businesses. A big plus is that it’s a more affordable option than LogMeIn and TeamViewer, but it also lacks a few features you might want, like live chat and a simple drag-and-drop file transfer tool. And the mobile apps need a lot of work to be useful. Otherwise, AnyDesk is a reliable solution for your PC-to-PC remote access needs.
AnyDesk requires you to purchase an annual license.
|Price Per Year||Free||$131.88||$251.88||$635.88+|
|Number of Users||1||1||Multiple||Multiple|
|Number of Computers You Can Access||1||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
Unlike with most remote computer access tools, you control GoToMyPC via a web browser interface or a simple desktop shortcut rather than using a stand-alone app. And although it’s packed with features, you won’t get confused with a cluttered user interface like some other software. LogMeIn recently acquired GoToMyPC, so changes may be afoot with this popular remote access software.
GoToMyPC offers a 7-day free trial, and they require you to purchase an annual license.
|Price Per Year||$420 per computer||$792 per 2 computers||$1,680+|
|Number of Users||1||2-50||10+|
|Dedicated Account Manager & Wake on LAN|
Like RemotePC, SplashTop Business Access is another affordable, solid solution for individuals and small businesses (although it doesn’t offer a free version). Unlike RemotePC, SplashTop requires you to purchase its higher plan to access several of its features, including chat and session recording.
But for $99 a year per user, you can get multi-screen displays, remote wake and several other bonus features you won’t find with RemotePC. A big plus for individual users — SplashTop’s Solo plan gives you access to 2 computers. With most other one-user plans, you can only access one computer. SplashTop also offers an enterprise-level plan and a separate remote access product for IT and support teams.
SplashTop offers a 7-day free trial for 2 users, and it requires an annual license.
- Solo Plan: $60/year; 1 user and access to 2 computers
- Pro Plan: $99/year per user; access up to 10 computers (20% discount for 4 or more users)
If you have team members who work remotely, it can get tricky to keep everyone synchronized and centrally organized. But technology has a ton of solutions to solve these problems. We review some of the best online tools to help your team with everything from video conferencing and team communication to cloud storage/file sharing and project management.
What issues are you trying to solve with remote access software?
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