Remote desktop access to the computers inside your business is a handy capability to have.
For businesses that have multiple branches but centralised control, remote desktop access is all but essential, because your IT people won’t need to physically travel to your branch offices to troubleshoot problems or show staff how to do things.
It’s even useful in office premises that house all of your staff, as IT doesn’t need to physically walk to anyone’s desk to help them.
Here are five software packages that offer this functionality. The differences between them come down to how much you’ll pay per user, the support on offer, and the features. From these, you’ll be able to select the one that fits your budget and needs best.
Or, you know, have a chat with your IT people. They should know a thing or two about this as well.
Chrome Remote Desktop
For basic remote desktop functionality – that is, being able to remotely operate another computer inside your organisation – Chrome Remote Desktop is a great option. It’s free to use, even for businesses, and only requires that both computers are running the Chrome web browser.
This means that Chrome Remote Desktop is multi-platform, so a PC running Windows can remotely control an Apple Mac that has Chrome installed, for example.
Chrome Remote Desktop is great for small tasks that just need basic remote access between two computers, but it lacks the more advanced and business-friendly features that IT professionals might want from their remote desktop software.
Download it here from the Chrome Web Store.
TeamViewer is a business-focused multi-platform remote desktop solution used by businesses around the world. It offers everything a commercial remote desktop solution should have: commercial licensing that includes priority support and legal compliance, user authentication, multi-user collaboration, centralised control and deployment, the ability to access PCs that have no user sitting in front of them (great for remote server administration), and more.
Because TeamViewer is a commercial venture, the company makes sure its paying customers get the support they need, quickly. It also uses the latest encryption technology to secure connections between remote and host computers, and it’s optimised to work well even when the internet connection between computers isn’t great.
TeamViewer is one of the most fully-featured remote desktop solutions available today and is therefore great for business use. It’s also quite nicely priced, starting at 46 EUR (just over R900 at the time of writing) per month for 15 licenses, with other license options available for bigger organisations.
If you’d like to try it out, there’s a free version to download as well, which you can find here.
RealVNC VNC Connect
RealVNC VNC Connect offers an evolution of one of the earliest remote desktop applications, VNC, which first came out in the late 1990s. VNC Connect is a more robust solution, with remote desktop capabilities and features that focus strongly on management and deployment, collaborating with multiple users on a single remotely-controlled computer, and authentication and access control (including unattended access).
VNC Connect is great for providing remote support to users, remotely accessing unattended servers and workstations, and it’s safe and secure thanks to the latest encryption and multi-factor authentication protocols.
One of VNC Connect’s best features is its ability to provide “Instant Support” for users without requiring that they install any software on their machines, and leaving no software footprint behind once that support session is over.
The pricing structure is tiered, offering a free version for personal use and paid plans based on the number of remote computers the organisation wants to administer. Their most affordable option is to choose to pay per device, which starts at $3.50 per device, per month, billed annually.
Get VNC Connect or start a 14-day free trial by clicking here.
Windows Remote Desktop
For businesses that are committed to the Microsoft ecosystem, third-party remote desktop software might not even be necessary thanks to Windows’ built-in Remote Desktop functionality.
The trick with using it successfully is that it requires more technical knowledge from the user, and both computers must be on the same subnet for it to work without additional (and complex) configuration being needed.
Windows Remote Desktop is fine for tech-savvy IT types and costs the business nothing, but it lacks the ease of use, easy setup, cross-platform capabilities, advanced features, and “works from anywhere” functionality of third-party remote desktop solutions.
Start it up by hitting the Windows key on your keyboard and R, then mstsc and ENTER.
Apple Remote Desktop
For those wanting to remotely access and administer Mac computers, Apple Remote Desktop is the answer. For a once-off cost of $80 (about R1460), the software lets you remotely access and control an unlimited number of Macs over a local network, using a familiar interface and the same design language as you’d find in MacOS.
Apple Remote Desktop offers remote software installation, system monitoring, and configuration management, screen sharing, file transfers, copy & paste functionality, and more. The only trick is that Remote Management must be enabled on all target Macs that you’d like to manage.
This is likely the best tool for an all-Mac business, although some of the other options in this list do have versions for Mac or are cross-platform capable. Where Apple Remote Desktop doesn’t help, is with remote control of iOS devices (iPads, iPhones) or from iOS devices.
Find it on the Apple Store here.
You may have noticed a bit of bias towards TeamViewer in these descriptions; that’s because we know from personal experience that TeamViewer is just such a pleasure to use and it’s not very expensive, and well, we like it.
By all means, choose one of the other options if they fit your business IT environment, but we’re pretty confident that TeamViewer ticks the most boxes out of all of them, no matter what operating systems you use or how big or small your business is.
Best of all, you can request a demo so you can try before buying.