My sister lives 3000km away from me and her computer is freezing from to to time without any pattern. Does anyone know/have experience with a software which can help me to detect what problems has her computer from distance?

many thanks

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  • Very similar question: superuser.com/questions/55718/… – Mehper C. Palavuzlar Oct 26 '09 at 14:00
  • @mehper -- not really. remote desktop isn't necessarily what's being asked about here. sure, it makes the investigation easier, but it's a tool in the toolbox. this question seems interested in other tools as well. – quack quixote Oct 26 '09 at 14:12

10 Answers 10


FogCreek Copilot seems to be a good and easy to use application.

  • To bad it costs, I has a nice interface – thegreyspot Oct 26 '09 at 13:18
  • 2
    Yeah, but it's free on weekends, and you can always use the 30-day free trial. – djeidot Oct 26 '09 at 13:20

If you just want to get on and take a look from software, look at Remote assitance built in to Windows - Go on MSN and ask her to click on "ask for remote assistance" is the quickest way.

After that, take a look at VNC (I like TightVNC) and other remote access software.

Next, if you are still unsure once you are on, ask about the problem here. Hopefully it is just driver issues, in which case you can do from software - if it is hardware problems such as hard drive or PSU etc, you will not be able to help without seeing the computer.

If it is BIOS issue, or you need a bit of extra control - you may like to buy a KVM over IP, I cannot recommend any over any others but I can say these come in very useful and it is nice to have one hanging around that you can post to people in situations like this!


Of the remote desktop options I have tried, I prefer LogMeIn. The Remote Desktop feature is free. It also works fine behind NAT (i.e. if your sister's machine accesses the internet through a router).

  • LogMeIn is AWESOME! – eidylon Oct 26 '09 at 19:16
  • We use logmein on all my family pc's. It helps me no end when my sister can't make her visio play nice. – Joe Taylor Feb 18 '10 at 21:14

Here are five best remote desktop tools (see the source at Lifehacker for a better formatted list):

LogMeIn (Windows/Mac) LogMeIn was one of the first popular remote desktop solutions aimed squarely at consumers, offering a quick, no-hassle set up to remotely control your computer from the comfort of any web browser. LogMeIn comes in a variety of flavors, but the two that are designed to satisfy your remote desktop needs are LogMeIn Pro and LogMeIn Free. A Pro account adds more features to the service, including drag-and-drop file transfer, file sync, and meeting tools. LogMeIn Pro isn't exactly cheap, at $13/month or $70/year, and while a Pro account offers more features than a free account, many users are still perfectly happy with LogMeIn Free.

TightVNC (Windows/Linux) TightVNC is a cross-platform, open-source remote desktop application. With TightVNC, you need to set up a VNC server on the computer you wish to access remotely; you can then remotely access that computer from anywhere else with any VNC viewer. We've already detailed how to set up TightVNC on your home computer, and if you'd prefer controlling TightVNC from a web browser to carrying a VNC client with you, you can also control TightVNC from the web.

TeamViewer (Windows/Mac) TeamViewer—like LogMeIn—offers free and paid accounts for remote controlling any PC. Unlike LogMeIn, TeamViewer is free for all non-commercial users. It doesn't offer browser-based remote control, instead using small utilities to connect between computers. TeamViewer is even available as a portable application you can carry around on your thumb drive. Whether you want to set up personal remote computing or you're pull frequent tech support duty, TeamViewer has a lot to offer.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection (Windows) Windows Remote Desktop—the default remote desktop app that comes bundled with Windows—is still more than enough for most Windows users looking for full-featured remote desktop control. If you've never happened upon the Remote Desktop Connection application buried in the Accessories folder of your Start menu, now might be a good time to try it out. Just be sure you've enabled remote desktop access.

UltraVNC (Windows) UltraVNC is an open-source, Windows-only remote desktop application. UltraVNC supports a hefty feature set, including text chat, file transfer support, and support for optional plug-ins. Although UltraVNC only runs on Windows, you can still access your computer from any operating system using your web browser.


Well, it doesn't directly solve the problems from a distance, but you could use the built-in Remote Desktop feature or Remote Assistance from within MSN Messenger. You may want to look into TeamViewer as well if the previous 2 give you problems.

Get on their desktop remotely, check event logs, check the startup programs, check the services running. You can't really go into the BIOS using the above programs, but you could get the update for them and tell them how to install it step by step. Update the drivers on the machine and run a scan for malicious software (note that a chipset update will probably disconnect your session if the NIC is onboard). If it seems to be a hardware issue, you may have to tell them to bring it in to a shop.


Well if you want to remote desktop (see her desktop). Both of you need to go here http://www.ammyy.com/en/ and download the app. It takes about 30 second, you dont have to install/configure anything. Just ask her to give you her client ID which is on the first page of the program. And then you just need to type that ID in and connect

Oh and when you are done, both of you can just close the program, and you wont have to deal with any annoying program automatically starting up.

Also, if you guys you skype, they have a remote desktop feature, but you wont beable to control her desktop, you would have to tell her where to go and stuff.


As the problem seems to be that the system is freezing, there is no use in using whatever remote access system per se. Remote access tools (I recommend FogCreek Copilot) help you getting the information about the cause of the freezing from the remote computer.

For gathering info on the problem itself, there are a few options.

  • inspect windows event log
  • use ProcessMonitor in the background with enabled logging backed up by a file

to see what happened last before the freeze.


I personally use Crossloop with my friends/family. It is very secure, and requires that the party you want to control shares a code that changes every session. And when you do connect the user has the ability to deny you. It also has built in file transfer support. Best part is you don't need to open anything in the firewall/router.



TeamViewer is a good solution for remote connections. I had a similar question, check it out.


I've used mikogo for that. Quite easy to use. Set up a meeting. Let her connect. Switch the presenter request for control.

One that seems to be quite good is GotoAssist. But it's not free.

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