13 August 2007

REVIEW: Remote Access with GoToMyPC

Often being involved in or running a small business requires you to be in many places at once. You need to take a meeting with a customer, but you're meeting at their location, not yours. However, you still have to access data that may not be portable, simply not loaded on the laptop you have with you or you don't have your own machine immediately accessible. Alternatively, what if you're home (not actually working) and need to access a file on your computer in the office? What do you do? If you're like many customers I meet, you either have to anticipate your need (loading that valuable data on your laptop or a USB thumb drive) or you do without (in many cases this really isn't an option, but more a consequence). You could also turn to a "corporate" solution of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that allows you to remotely connect to your businesses network to retrieve your data. Certainly a VPN is the ideal solution for true remote network connectivity, but it also comes with the burden of being somewhat complex to setup/configure and requires you to spend more money on equipment and/or support. Further, VPN-type connections are frequently blocked by corporate networks and, sometimes, your local coffee shop's WiFi network. So what can you do? The answer could be a web-based technology like GoToMyPC.

GoToMyPC is a technology that was aquired by a Citrix a few years ago, but has been around for quite some time. Essentially, it enables a user to remote control a PC using a web-based Java application. What does this really mean? Well, no matter where you are, if you have an Internet-connected computer and a web browser, you can access that machine at home or work or somewhere entirely different. GoToMyPC allows you not only to control the machine, but also transfer files between the "guest" (the machine that is controlling) and the "host" (the machine being controlled). Having tested this service under a number of different circumstances (and connection speeds), I can attest to the utility of the service. The following is just a partial list of some of the ways I've used the service:

  • Remote access to files stored on my office desktop
    I travel a great deal and occassionally will put something on my desktop while I'm in the office, but forget to pull it off of that machine before I leave. With GoToMyPC, I just connect to that machine and transfer the data I need.

  • Accessing applications not loaded on my laptop
    I have been using QuickBooks to manage my business since Consejo started. While I've recently started using the Online version of QuickBooks, I had previously used the Professional version. Since the data can only realistically exist in one place, I needed a way to access the application when I wasn't in the office. I could have loaded it on my laptop, but I also didn't necessarily want sensitive financial data "out in the world" where something bad could happen. Using GoToMyPC, I was simply able to "dial in" to my office desktop, do what I needed to do in Quickbooks and get out.

  • Remote Support
    When you're the "technical" guy in the family, you tend to get a lot of "help desk" calls from relatives. In my case, I get these kinds of calls frequently enough to warrant a solution where I didn't necessarily have to step my relatives through a troubleshooting process. It's often much easier for them to simply call, tell me they're having a problem and I remotely connect to their machine. Once I've connected to their machine, I have the option of "showing them" how to correct their problem, simply fixing the problem for them or scheduling a time when I can connect later to do some more investigation.

This list is obviously not exhaustive, but it is a realistic picture of what I've used the service to accomplish. I can honestly say that I use the service a few times a day for almost all of the applications in my list. While it is clearly targeted at controlling a single machine, once you're connected to that single machine, you have the option of using a Windows-included technology like Remote Desktop to control other machines within the remote network (this is good for remote network administration of servers or other machines connected to the same network as the host). For me it has been well worth the $179/year subscription fee (you also have the option of paying around $20 monthly).

In short, GoToMyPC is an excellent technology for providing secure and relatively reliable (as reliable as the Internet connection you have) remote access.


Anonymous said...

I like to use GoToMyPC service... It is fastest and easiest way to access your PC from anywhere...

Anonymous said...

GoToMyPC is very easy and I like it too, but I read that it is not secure http://remote-access-software.net/security/the-dangers-of-remote-pc-access.html.

Unknown said...

I’ve been a user of GoToMyPC for a while but recently my company has switched over to Proxy Networks. As far as remote access software goes, I like this more simply because it lets me do much more stuff. My boss originally got it for the security that it offered but I’ve found it was just more capable. What do you guys think? I've only ever used these two. Are there other good ones out there that are cheaper and/or better?

Jacob said...

Vadim - you messed up your url link. This is a common mistake that I see around blogs. Basically you forgot the http:// part. Without it, as yours does, the link goes back to this post.

Here's what it looks like with the http part added: (I'll just use your url) remote access software. Hope that helps.

Remote Control Software said...

I agree with "Anonymous" (although that link is no longer valid). Security is important. I live in Boston but frequently fly home to Germany to visit my family. They don't have internet there, being quite old, so I have to use internet cafes. Therefore security is very important to me. Whatever software you use, make sure it's very complete in this regard.

Anonymous said...

GoToMyPC is a good program but it costs much. That's why I use PC File transfer. This smart tool is very similar with gotomypc by its functionality and costs much cheaper.

internet marketing said...

I agree GoToMyPC is a little overpriced, but whenever I have issues I'm glad to know I can call for support. Most free tools don't offer that. Does PC File transfer?

Anonymous said...
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