I'm in a situation where I act as a sort of techinical support to my family and less techinically experienced friends.

I'm looking for a remote desktop solution where it's possible to setup a "zero-install, double click an icon"-solution where the client computer contacts me so that I may interact with their desktop.

The last part is important as the people in need of my help don't know how to configure their router or even the firewall software on their own computer. They are able to click an accept button when asked if a program should be able to make outgoing connections. They have many different kinds of routers, as well as software firewalls, and I rather not deal with the problem of how to connect to them using whatever as well as the actual problem they are having.

It must be:

  1. Free of charge for non-commercial use.
  2. Possible to use it in a mode where the computer wanting to share its desktop should be able to make a connection to my computer. My computer has a DNS name we can use.
  3. Compatible with both Windows XP and Windows 7.
  4. Independent of a third party server or infrastructure.

Explanations of the above:

  1. I don't want to spend money on it when I help them for free. If it's free as in freedom, all the better!
  2. I guess this boils down to being callable like showdesktopto.exe opscomputer.com where opscomputer.com is my computers DNS name. If that is possible then I can create a shortcut they can use to connect to me when they need help. It's nice if it's possible to specify a password or key file which I can use to authenticate myself, but it's not required.
  3. They use the OS which their machine comes installed with. That means Windows XP or 7.
  4. I want something which will work in the long run. Using a third party service which might not be available when I need it disqualified such solutions.

sounds like you want windows remote assistance,


  • Thanks! Good to know. Please include this in your answer as well as it's pretty vital and I'll accept it: "Note: If the person who is being helped is behind a firewall, NAT, or ICS, Remote Assistance will still function as long as the person being helped initiates the session via Windows Messenger. However, as stated above, Remote Assistance will not work in cases when the outbound traffic from port 3389 is blocked." – Deleted Nov 12 '12 at 8:56
  • After messing with it I've changed my mind. It has to be enabled, you need Windows Messenger (and thus a Windows Live ID) on the client. Some of the people I want to help out doesn't know how to chat. I need something I can deploy as a simple file the person wanting help double clicks. – Deleted Nov 12 '12 at 10:11
  • It's enabled by default (afaik) but yes, it's the usual case of microsoft doing everything in house with no regard for anyone else but themselves. I think you can use it without msn though, ehow.com/how_6849437_use-windows-remote-assistance-msn.html It's not perfect, but it might be ok with some work, and at least it's built in. – Sirex Nov 12 '12 at 18:39
  • I've actually found something promising. In case your interested too. I haven't tried it yet, I'll provide an answer when I do. Anyhow, sourceforge.net/projects/echovnc seems nice. The desktop sharing party is the one connecting by default, which is nice. I'll have to investigate if I can make it simple enough to use for my intended target. – Deleted Nov 13 '12 at 10:39

I use Fog Creek's Copilot when doing remote work for family and friends. It's not too expensive, and it activates through the browser, so it's pretty easy to use. If you leave an appropriate bookmark on their systems it gets even easier. I had a bit of trouble walking a mac user through getting it going, but other than that it's been really smooth sailing.


I've got the perfect solution for you - Mikogo is a desktop sharing program that is actually heavily marketed to tech support firms, and so should work well for you. You can easily take control of your family members' computers, and switch control back and forth. Additionally, it has other features like big cursors that can be used at pointers, and you can draw on the screen if you need to circle something, or draw an arrow or whatever else you may need to use it for.

It's free to download but you can also just use the HTML version, which allows you to join the online conference in your browser - download-free. http://www.mikogo.com

  • Welcome to SuperUser! From your profile I see that you're affiliated with the program you're suggesting. Per the FAQ, you must disclose that fact in your post. Also note that it's not necessary to sign your posts, so while you're editing your answer, please remove the sig as well. – Indrek Nov 13 '12 at 12:21
  • It seems like you have a fine product there. I don't want to have the power to take control whenver I want to, I want it initiated specifically by the person in need of some help. It's a bit different than a corporate setting, as I'm helping family and friends, but at the same time I want them to have their integrity. Also, it breaks my fourth requirement Independent of a third party server or infrastructure.. But for the sake those reading this who doesn't care about that: How is the connection initiated? These people do not know how to configure their router and redirect ports. – Deleted Nov 13 '12 at 19:37

Install the web browser Google Chrome, then use the plugin Chrome Remote Desktop. It is gratis, not centralized, and works well behind firewalls.

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