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Is there a simple method or package available for providing remote desktop support to friends and family over the internet?

Ideally, the required set up on the remote machine would be simple enough to describe to very non-technical individuals. (So, it's always Windows.)

I'm often telephoned for help with computer problems. Often the problem involves a piece of software I'm unfamiliar with (such as a particular anti-virus offering), and I'd really like the ability to be able to "look around" (or even just see!) the remote machine, and to demonstrate what needs to be done.

I'd appreciate any guidance, recommendations, links to web pages. I have "Googled it", but there is so much discussion of variations of this problem, and so many opinions of what solution is best, that I can't "see the wood for the trees". I'd really like to see, for example, a concise summary of the different approaches with their respective pros and cons, and a step-by-step guide.

This sort of system set up is far from my own "comfort zone". I anticipate problems with choosing and setting up clients/servers, maintaining a reasonable level of safety and security, dealing with software and/or hardware firewalls, configuring ports on routers, setting up accounts or groups, arranging permissions, logging on, especially logging on in some kind of shared mode, and so on...

Is there a "Remote Desktop over the Internet for Dummies"??

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migrated from Sep 8 '11 at 3:28

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Windows XP and above has a remote assistance feature built in. – Luke Sep 8 '11 at 0:31
You want "Remote Assistance" and SuperUser is a great place to ask more about it. – Kate Gregory Sep 8 '11 at 1:17
Thanks for migrating my question from Stack Overflow; this is indeed an excellent place for this sort of question. Thanks too, to all, for all the responses. – Rhubbarb Sep 8 '11 at 21:50
up vote 5 down vote accepted

As Luke says, Windows Remote Assistance was made for this and is built into Windows so there is nothing to install. The Windows help describes how to use it.

LifeHacker has a concise summary of the most popular approaches.

HowToGeek has a step-by-step guide to one of those. I have used this to remote control my home computer before and it worked fine and was easy enough to set up.

I will also point out that Fog Creek has Copilot which it claims works though proxies and firewalls.

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Thanks very much for answering this question so fully. I reviewed the links you provided, and found the information very helpful. In the end, I tried using TeamViewer (as also recommended by Nathaniel), and found this program to be very easy to use. – Rhubbarb Sep 10 '11 at 22:46

TeamViewer is golden for this.

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Logmein also offer a free Flash based service - Join Me

There's no login required you just select the "share my screen" option and then let the other party know the id. They join you and can take over control or just watch.

I have tried this aspect, but I would expect this to work across different operating systems.

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If you want free, consider LogMeIn. Downside - it has to be installed first and though it's relatively simple to install for anyone somewhat comfortable with computers, it can be challenging for grandma who isn't.

If you're willing to pay, both LogMeIn and GoToMyPC offer services that allow you to direct the person to a web site (which prompts them with a java/activeX control) and provide them a password which then connects them to a remote control session with you (I've forgotten what LogMeIn's service is called - I THINK it's LogMeIn123 and GoToMyPC's is GoToAssist (which offers relatively cheap daily rates).

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AMMYY Admin, free for Windows.

Simply put, AMMYY Admin is a small .exe that you can email to clients or friends, whoever needs remote tech support. You both open the .exe, and one of you is the client, one the operator.

The client gives his unique identifying number to the operator and presses start, the operator enters it, and is able to control the client's computer.

NO installation, admin rights needed.

enter image description here

this user is not affiliated with this product in any way, shape, or form.

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