What Are the Best Options to Remotely Manipulate Multiple Users on Different Workstations

Answered by Jay Nelson, Editor and Publisher, Design Tools Monthly

I support several users on several different workstations. I've heard that there are ways to remotely manipulate files on their computers, so that I don't have to be physically next to their computers to help them. What are the best options?

Indeed, in the past several years some truly revolutionary and helpful technologies have emerged that allow you to connect with, monitor, and even control a distant computer. Amazingly, they work not only over a local network, but also across the Internet to anywhere in the world. Here are a few good examples:

VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is the technology that makes it possible to interact with a computer from any computer or mobile device on the Internet. Free VNC software is available for both Windows and Mac OS X to provide cross-platform remote control, letting you see and manipulate someone else's computer. For a quick overview of the technology, see the Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VNC.

For Mac OS X, try the free Chicken Of The VNC http://sourceforge.net/projects/cotvnc/ or Vine Server http://www.redstonesoftware.com/products/vine/server/vineosx/

For Windows, try RealVNC http://www.realvnc.com/ or UltraVNC http://www.uvnc.com/ or LogMeIn http://www.logmein.com

Some companies also offer more robust versions for a fee.

If you use a Mac, a more robust solution is Apple's Apple Remote Desktop ($270), which also provides convenient remote Spotlight searching, remote drag-and-drop copying, a Dashboard widget, and can encrypt communications and file transfers. Read Macworld's review of ARD at: http://www.macworld.com/2006/06/reviews/ard3/

For use across the Internet:

For a surprisingly simple cross-platform solution, try LogMeIn www.logmein.com. You create an account at LogMeIn, and then invite a client to connect. An email is sent to them with a link to download a small client application (less than 1MB). Whenever their client application is running, you have access to whatever they allow you in its preferences.

A different option is Copilot, which many users prefer because it doesn't require the client to install anything on their computer (which some people are nervous about), and the remote user can cut you off at any time -- also a peace of mind enhancer. Its price is either $5/day or $20+/month, and they offer a free trial. More info: http://www.copilot.com/

This question was answered by Jay Nelson, Publisher & Editor, Design Tools Monthly. We love DTM's tips and advice and think you will, too. For a free sample PRINTED issue, contact Design Tools Monthly at 303-543-8400, e-mail info@design-tools.com, or go to their website: www.design-tools.com.

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