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There is a feature within Windows Live Messenger v9 that allows a person to ask for remote assistance. BBut as I understand it, this works only if the router is UPnP enabled on both ends.

Today I tried this with a friend during an active chat session, and nothing happened. I suspect a router problem. as I am remote, I cannot configure the router for them.

What's a good way to render remote assistance?

Here's the scenario:

  • it will be based on invitation only (it's not a remote desktop or "logmein" situation).
  • It's a younger person, a computer novice, on the other end of the wire.
  • I'll be assiting with their use of applications on the PC.
  • I'd l ike to be able to SEE the screen, and also use the mouse and keyboard.

I have used Ultra-Vnc on the target machine and vncviewer on my machine, on a LAN. It works well.

But I don't think I can use that, because it's my kids' computer in my ex-wife's place, and I don't want her to accuse me of spying on her computer. That's why I need it to be invitation only.

Advice please.

Is there an easy way for me to set up Remote Assistance? IS there some other tool I can use?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Check out TeamViewer, it fulfills all of your requirements. Minimal configuration is required, there is no need for dabbing around in the router and setting up port forwarding. The user on the other end simply needs to give you their ID and 4-digit password to connect. The rest of the negotiation is handled by the TeamViewer servers. It's very easy to use and no install is required:

enter image description here

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You can still set up a permanent password though, but don't tell the mom! – Ivo Flipse Feb 23 '10 at 6:19
This seems like a deal killer in this situation, particularly if the mom is not on good terms and looking for any reason to terminate all contact with dad. Dad should try to use something that doesn't even have the possibility of leaving a permanent backdoor. – Ryan Bolger Feb 23 '10 at 17:43
@Ryan how do you figure this leaves a permanent backdoor? The program doesn't need to be installed. You close it when you're done with it. – John T Feb 23 '10 at 18:02
@Ryan the mother should set up a permanent password, such that the father doesn't know it and can't enter without getting a password. – Ivo Flipse Feb 24 '10 at 10:33
The original unedited answer had mentioned the option of setting up a permanent password that would allow dad to connect at any time in the future without authorization. At least, that's how I read it. I'm not familiar with the software. – Ryan Bolger Feb 25 '10 at 17:00

Microsoft Shared View

  • It's free (with no annoying ads either)
  • It's written by Microsoft, so it's probably the most forward compatible solution (i.e. no issues with UAC)
  • It uses the RDP protocol, so it's pretty fast even over relatively slow links (unlike VNC based solutions).
  • No firewall twiddling needed on either end
  • You can share individual windows or the whole desktop
  • Up to 15 people can join the meeting
  • As far as I know, it can't be setup to allow a permanent backdoor into the system. So mom should have nothing to worry about.
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I struggled with Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance a few weeks ago and also ran into the same router issues. Much to my surprise, Fogcreek CoPilot connected through the router without any problems. It meets all of your criteria. The price is right; free on weekends, $5 for 24 hours, $5 per month or $50 per year. Give the Test Drive a try.

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I highly recommend GoToMeeting for doing this.

GotoMeeting is nice because it allows you have take control (invitation only, and it asks the participant if they want to allow this). It all works through just about every firewall situation I've ever seen. Supports up to 15 people if you get a wild hair and want to give a presentation or something.

It's very user friendly on both ends too, as participant or as presenter.

The VoIP audio conferencing works fairly well and if needed it provides a call-in bridge.

The bad is that it's kind of expensive, at about $50/mo (or like $450/yr).

There are some free alternatives, although I can't vouche for how good they are (Yugma is an example).

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ok, $50/month is no good for me. This is for personal use and I don't have that money to spare. – Cheeso Mar 23 '10 at 20:02

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