December 9, 2009

My new favorite free PC Remote Control Application: TeamViewer 5

Posted in Beginner at 4:55 pm by gloriouscomputing

Until now, LogMeIn has been my primary choice for remote controlling my own machines. And for that purpose, I’d still recommend it to friends, because it is just barely easier to set up than TeamViewer, and LogMeIn Free allows Remote Access via your Web Browser, which TeamViewer charges money for.

However, for every so slightly more effort with TeamViewer, you can start a Remote Control session considerably more quickly each time you need it, plus you can swap files with ease (A feature which LogMeIn charges money for).

So what is this slight annoyance when setting up TeamViewer? After making an account with TeamViewer, and logging in at both my PC here as well as the PC I wanted to remote control regularly from now on, the PCs did not automatically appear in each my account’s “friends” list. If I log in on two PCs, the program should detect this. However, this was easy to fix by adding the PC’s ID (shown in TeamViewer) to my friends list manually.

Starting a Remote Control session with TeamViewer takes about two less mouse clicks, and skips some loading times which LogMeIn makes you wait through. I just start TeamViewer, click the PC I want to control, and I’m in. It takes seconds.

So if you insist on remote controlling via your browser, stick with LogMeIn, but if that’s not required, go with TeamViewer. TeamViewer has also long been my choice for one-time remote controlling random people’s PCs who need your help.

I’ll also give an honorable mention to Live Mesh, but after installing it I haven’t really used it much. It’s mostly some awkward interface decisions, like requiring ActiveX (making you use IE-Tab with Firefox) that made it less than ideal to use.

Update: After using TeamViewer5 together with LogMeIn for a while, I have found LogMeIn to be much more stable. Even when my remote PC was semi-crashed and unexcessable from TeamViewer and LogMeIn, LogMeIn was able to remotely reboot the machine to fix the issue. So my recommendation is: Install both, or just LogMeIn. However, I still try TeamViewer as my first choice, when I have both installed.