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Working on Win2000 at distance

Posted on 2004-12-01
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Last Modified: 2010-04-14
Hi experts,

Does anyone know of any good utilities that will enable me to work on a Windows 2000 PC at distance?  Things like taking a look at directories and their contents on the hard drive, analysing processes and their respective CPU time and memory, etc.  I don't have a huge budget to blow so the cheaper/free-er the better, even anything within Windows 2000 itself might be what I'm looking for.

Many thanks in advance for your help.
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Question by:reidy_boy
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:Tezdread
ID: 12718141
RealVNC is my choice (www.realvnc.com/download.html)
It's free, faily secure and can be made very secure using tunneling
It can be used with various systems (Windows & Linux)
If you're mobile you can have the client on a floppy and quickly get access to your system from anywhere with an Internet connection without having to install software.
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Expert Comment

by:tebacher
ID: 12718206
Is it 2000 Server?  If it is, you can run it in terminal server mode and allow administrators to connect to the machine remotely.  If it's not server, realVNC is your best option, like Tezdread mentioned.
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Expert Comment

by:jatcan
ID: 12718251
Well, if you want better speed, security and reliability, combined with ease of use, spend $35 and getr a licsence for remote administrator:

http://www.famatech.com/

I have used just about all of them I'd say, PCAnywhere, Timbuktu, VNC, remote administrator, vpn's, and a few cheap web based(browser-based) buggy, in-secure remote access tools, remote administrator is the best of all of them in my humble opinion, and famatech keeps the costs very cheap.

Cheers,

jatcan
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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 12718434
If you are an administrator, then you can look at the hard drive without the need for any tools.  Just map a drive or navigate a UNC path to it and do whatever you want.  As for the rest of what you want, you can get a huge amount of information about a remote computer via scripting and the use of Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).  VNC is a wonderful tool and I use it a lot myself.  But, it does open you up to certain risks.  IMHO things like VNC are meant for taks that cannot be performed, or cannot easily be performed except when being on the remote computer.  I use VNC to provide remote support to staff.  When they have a problem I can connect to their computer and see exactly what they're doing.  That's not something I could do by just mapping a drive or using a script and WMI.  But, if I want to know what processes are running on a remote computer, then I run a script to collect that information.  It's much faster and less intrusive than starting VNC, connecting to the remote machine, and drilling through however many screens necessary to find that out.

Here's a link to a tool called Scriptomatic.  It gererates canned scripts that'll retrieve an unbelievable amount of information about a computer.  It will work against both the local and remote computers.  If nothing else it's a great learning tool.  To retrieve infrormation about a remote computer you do have to have administrative rights on the remote computer.  

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/scriptcenter/tools/wmimatic.mspx
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Expert Comment

by:Danny Child
ID: 12727166
there's a review of some packages here:
http://www.scmagazine.com/products/index.cfm?fuseaction=GroupTestDetails&GroupId=6304

but I also like Dameware
www.dameware.com
lots of remote management - ie disk space checks, start stop services, etc.  Plus remote control!

Hyena's good too, but doesn't have the RC.
http://www.systemtools.com/hyena/
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Expert Comment

by:Tezdread
ID: 12727443
for details on what processes are running the Win2k supports tools gives you it all and the ability to kill apps...not sure if this works via telnet though?? Has anyone tried?
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Author Comment

by:reidy_boy
ID: 12727744
RealVNC looks good although I will need more time to investigate.  Had a look at WMI scripting in more detail but as far as I could tell this only provides me with information about the computer.  Basically, the PC's we have run on Windows 2000 Professional, not Windows 2000 Server and belong to our customers who are not all that computer literate.  What we would really like to do is to sort out their problems without having to send an engineer to site.  It is a shame we don't use Windows XP because this has a Remote Assistance tool which would be perfect for what we need.  As for the other comments posted, I am working through them in turn but thank you all in advance.
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Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 12728862
WMI provides much more than just information about the computer, if by "computer" you mean the hardware.  You can list the process that are running, service settings, information about the account currently logged in, read the event logs, really an incredible amount of information.  And it doesn't require Windows 2000 Server.  I'm not trying to sell you on WMI and I'm not saying anything bad about VNC, which I use too.  I just want to dispell any misconceptions about what WMI is and what it can do.  
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Author Comment

by:reidy_boy
ID: 12734122
I think I phrased my last comment wrong.  I have seen that WMI provides info on software issues like user accounts and processes, but could I, for example, perform operations on the PC such as move or delete files.
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Accepted Solution

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David Lee earned 800 total points
ID: 12735293
There's no need for WMI to do anything like that.  You can simply connect to the remote computer by mapping a drive or following a UNC path and manage files, folders, etc.  That's far simpler and less intrusive than using VNC for those things.  Let's say you need to move a few files either to a remote PC or from one folder to another on a remote PC.  To do that using VNC or another remote control tool, you have to take control of the remote PC which means you probably have to contact the user at the other end, let them know that you need to do some work on the PC, ask them if now is a good time, and if it is then take control and interrupt their work whil you go through the motions of moving the files.  And what if the user who's logged on doesn't have rights to access the area where the files are being copied from/to?  Then you have to either log them off, which of course means that they'll have to log back on when you're done, a further interruption, or you have to go through more steps to perform the operation and your elevated privileges.  In contrast, if I need to perform any file operation I can map the necessary drives to/from the remote PC and move/copy/delete/rename files without having to interrupt the user at that PC at all.  In fact unless it's a file I think they might have open at the time, I don't need to consult with them at all.  Typically speaking the only time I really need VNC is when I need to provide assistance for software problems.  For example, say the user is trying to do something in Excel, has run into a problem, and I really need to see the screen they're on to help them get past the problem.  Or if I need to install a new piece of software.  For these I need VNC or something like it (e.g. Remote Desktop).  But for file operations, gathering information about the remote PC, making registry changes, and many settings changes, scripting is a better answer.  That's expecially true if the operation needs to be done on several remote PCs.  I can copy a file to 10 machines via scripting in far less time than it'd take to copy them to 1 machine using VNC.

Once again, I'm not disputing that VNC/Remote Desktop are valuable tools and quite useful for providing support to remote users.  I use them extensively.  I'm simply saying that they aren't the best possible solution for many of the things we typically need to do to support remote machines.  Scripting and other command-line oriented tools are far better for many of those operations.
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