|Remote tech support with less frustration
Question : I live a long way from my
parents, who often need
computer help. It gets
frustrating to do this over the
phone, so is there a way I can
tap into their PC from mine
and just fix things?
Answer : Troubleshooting by phone
can be a challenge, particularly
when the party needing
assistance isn't as familiar with
desktop navigation as the party
providing the help ("What big
green button in the corner?").
But, depending on what
systems are involved, several
long-distance tech support
options are available.
Windows XP comes with a
Remote Assistance feature that
lets an expert control the
computer of a novice over a
network connection (like the
Internet) to adjust system
settings, look for lost files or
provide other help.
The feature takes a little bit
of advance setup, but Microsoft
has a full overview at tinyurl.com/l5bemt.
Windows Vista also has its
own Windows Remote
Assistance service that can let it
connect to other computers
running Vista or Windows XP.
To use it, go to the Start
button to All Programs. Click on
Maintenance and then on
Windows Remote Assistance in
A wizard then offers to walk
you through the steps of either
helping or being helped.
A page on Microsoft's site
(bit.ly/12rMiq) explains how
Remote Assistance works - and
offers some caveats about
privacy and security.
Third-party programs are also
available. Prices vary, but are
usually subscription based. LogMeln (logmein.com) and
GoToAssist Express (gotoassist.com) are two such services.
Both can work with Macs and
PCs and have free trial periods.
Virtual network computing
applications are often favoured
by systems administrators, as is
Windows Remote Desktop (bit.ly/QZpsL).
VNC programs let you
remotely control another
computer over the network.
Real VNC (www.realvnc.com)
and Tight VNC (www.tightvnc.com) are two of them.
And for Mac users looking for
screen-sharing solutions, the MacFixlt site has a helpful
article at bit.ly/VFejo.