So for many years I have found Logmein.com to be an extremely reliable solution for remote access… and it was free! I’m not going to join the legions of haters… but simply am saying goodbye to a great free tool and make some notes on new tools I have found to fill the void..
Specific to the Logmein Change…Its kind of like a kid who has a ball and lets you play with it for a while and then they decide to go home.. its their choice to take their ball home and not let you use it anymore… Same way with Logmein.. they were offering a free product… its their choice to say its not free anymore… Granted the ‘hey jack, your done in 7 days’ (in the words of Uncle Si) didn’t give warm fuzzies… but its their choice.
So they’ve made their choice.. so I need to make some decisions… use the “new uber awesome” paid Logmein tools (which are way overkill for what I need for helping my family or my small consulting business) or find another solution.
So in a quick quest to beat the 168 hr timer from Logmein, I’m on a quest for a affordable (jason speak for free) remote tool to support family and customers.
Option 1 – TeamViewer
TeamViewer has been around for along time, but i never really give it much consideration since i had already setup machines with LMI, but a quick install of the client and then logging in with TeamViewer to uninstall LMI on my family computers proved it to be a solid alternate. Some things to keep in mind, it is only free for non-commercial so that rules out consulting customers or for the real job at the non-profit. To honor the TeamViewer team I have elected not to use this for my consulting customers… being honest, it was very tempting… but hey they are giving something for free lets not be disrespectful and ignore the rules.
One thing for a TeamViewer Noobie…and it may be completely obvious to the rest of the world… but I found its easy to give Grandma access to your computer… not just you access to Grandma’s computer. In the install process there is a little box that says keep signed in… this is actually in addition to giving you remote access, it’s keeping your account logged in on the remote computer… one click of the machine name in the TeamViewer app and GRANDMA is controlling YOUR PC… not a desired result. A quick “Log Off” in the app fixes that and you can access the remote PCs but they can’t access yours.
I was a little surprised to see that when the app is kept logged in, there is no password prompt before your connection to the remote computer is started… so the choice here use a easier password to remember than the auto generated lastpasss login password, or lock your PC. I guess i was just expecting the LMI second authentication to happen.
Option 2 – Meraki
So while I’ve not completely consumed the cool-aid and not yet the FanBoy status that my buddy and pal Dustin Cassady is when it comes to Meraki… The Meraki Dashboard is something to be considered. When I first looked at the product it did Meraki device management (Switches, APs, Firewalls) but not much else, then they added Free Mobile Device Management, which we have used to track some corporate devices and I have on my mobile devices… then they added desktop/laptop management.
Ok.. so who cares. In fact I have had the client management on my MBP and Windows machines for quite a while but really never paid any attention to it… but then I remembered when we setup Dustin’s Lync Environment he kept talking about Meraki Remote management. Sure enough, right in the client info there was a Remote Desktop Button… Granted that button bombs, but clicking on the Remote Desktop In the navigation bar sure enough, i was remotely controlling my machines from Meraki. The Remote agent appears to be offline until you select which device you want to connect and then it fires up a VNC session. One nice feature you can setup networks and give access to other users depending on their needs…. Very Similar to LogMeIn Central. One drawback, Meraki’s remote uses Java and VNC… ugh Java…but for now i can look over that.
One negative, since Meraki is using VNC and Java, the interface does seem a little laggy compared to LMI or TeamViewer. But it’s a free option for a “commercial” use.
Option 3 – Crossloop
Not alot of time using this … you only get 1 or two machines free so i’ve only briefly tried it… but its another option to review.
Option 6 – Lync
Now I think you would be disappointed if i didn’t include Lync in the list… Lync does screen sharing.. and is free to non-profits thru Office365, however just setting up Lync for this is a little overkill. Additionally, you can’t remotely access a machine with Lync, the user has to be present to share the screen. And, possibly the most challenging part, for those sharing their windows computer screen, when a UAC prompt displays the remote user can’t enter credentials to proceed.
Option 5 – Logmein
Well… not really a ton of options here… Pay for 2 computers $99/yr ($50 for the first year) $250 for 5 computers and up. Not likely. So the other option several have suggested was to use Logmein Central that was already being paid for by my day job… SomethingIi don’t’ feel comfortable combining Business, Personal and Consulting… so LMI and LMI Central really aren’t options.
I’m sure there are things i haven’t considered, or other options… this isn’t an exhaustive list… but leave a comment if there is a product that should be on the list or a comment that needs included.