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Need to evaluate various Remote Desktop Access Solutions

Posted on 2007-03-30
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Hi,
My client's requirement is:

He wants to access PC1 from PC2, PC3 and PC4.

Whenever he tries to access PC1 from any of the other machines, he should be asked for a username and password. The software should have option of multiple users whose access rights should be configurable.
Upon entering the correct username and password, the software should not require any manual intervention on PC1 to give access to the remote user.

All machines will have Windows XP software.

I need information like Cost of the software per license, speed issues, security issues, user-friendliness issues, etc.

Will the machines need a static IP address ? Will a 256K broadband connection suffice ?

Pls. give information on the various alternatives available in the market, freeware as well as commercial ones.

Thanks a lot.
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Question by:rajesh_khater
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by:bbrunning
ID: 18827777
As far as remote desktop or remote applications are concerned, you will not be able to accomplish this simultaniously from the 3 other machines. You need a server operating system to do that. XP built in remote software only allows 1 user at a time to use the machine, whether it is the user sitting in front of the system or another user trying to access it. All other 3rd party programs that I have had experience with are the same or they are direct control applications (The main PC gets control taken over and everything done from the remote location shows on the screen.).

If simultanious login is not needed then you can setup different usernames/passwords on the remote machine and add them to remote desktop users (You cannot do this with XP HOME, you must have XP Pro). If you don't have XP pro then you'll just have to use a 3rd party app but you will not be able to have seperate profiles/usernames for it. You can still control the system thought and make it log into a different profile via the remote software as if you were just logging out of windows and logging back in with a new username.

A static IP address is necessary for it to work and you need to specify port forwarding on your router to the static IP of the remote system. Depending on what remote application you use will reflect what port you need forwarded.
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by:bbrunning
ID: 18827783
Answer to other questions:
Cost varies...lookup remote administration applications in google
Only 1 machine needs a staic IP, the remote system.
256K will work
Freeware that's great is VNC
There is always some kind of security issue using remote adminsitration
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 18829884
Not quite true...  you can have multiple remote sessions with XP, but you have to hack the system first and set it up correctly...  found this artilcle a few months ago..    But be careful, and BACKUP the registry prior to trying this ...  it will, from what I understand, allow up to 4 connections...  You will need a static address setup on this machine for the router port forwarding, as mentioned above...

http://www.golod.com/2005/10/enabling-multiple-remote-desktop-sessions-in-windows-xp-professional-and-media-center-edition-2005/

If you have ever used a real remote computer system like Citrix, then you have probably been craving multiple Remote Desktop sessions since you first fired up Windows XP Professional and/or Media Center Edition. Here is a HACK (translated: USE AT YOUR OWN RISK), to enable multiple Remote Desktop sessions on your XP Pro or MCE 2005 box:
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by:bbrunning
ID: 18829940
If he had to ask about remote desktop apps, then he's probably never used Citrix and also beginner at this...I don't know if I would recommending hacking your registry unless you feel comfortable messing with it. Also, he never specified if he has XP Pro or not...he may be running Home.

Anyways Fatal, thanks for the article post...I'll try that out myself. It'll come in handy!
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 18829970
Oh, and by the way...  of course the best thing about that hack is that it is FREE!
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 18829981
I see your point, bb....   I assumed that this was an XP Pro system...    
 
What the heck..  it might come in handy in the PAQ for later use, eh?  :)
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18831273
Dear Experts, after going through some articles, I am zooming in on DameWare and PCAnywhere.
Which of these 2 is the better one ?

If I connect to Machine1 from Machine2, the user on Machine1 should be able to continue his work along with the remote user. Moreover, the local user on Machine1 should not be asked to give permission to the remote user. The access rights of remote user should be configurable and should require a password. All applications on Machine1 accessed remotely from Machine2 should work seamlessly.

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by:bbrunning
ID: 18832564
This will not work with neither PCAnywhere or DameWare. Both those applications take over the existing session.
What I mean by that is if you log in remotely and start using the system...the computer being controlled will reflect everything you do. Both those programs have a "View Only" mode that just lets you see what the remote system is doing but that won't help you do anything.
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by:bbrunning
ID: 18832592
FYI....what you are trying to accomplish (remotely controlling a computer without interrupting the current user's session) is not capable with a standard WinXP/Win2k system. That is only available on server operating systems.
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 18833022
Yes, I know of no software that will allow you to do all of this on a normal client OS...  What OS are you planning on hosting this, if I may ask?
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18834509
I am open to suggestions as to which OS I should use for such a setup. The budget is not a problem.

But the remote control software should allow me to make any changes to any software/files/folders in the remote machine.

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by:bbrunning
ID: 18834537
You shouldn't be using a server system just because you want multiple Remote Logons, MS Server costs around $1000.00 or more anyways.

Just get remote administrator and setup the users on the system itself. Radmin can allow the remote user to decide who to log in as once they are logged into the remote desktop.
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18836360
>> Both those programs have a "View Only" mode that just lets you see what the remote system is doing but that won't help you do anything.

bbrunning, are you sure that PCAnywhere will not allow me to make changes to the remote computer. I read on some other threads that you can do anything on the remote computer.
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by:bbrunning
ID: 18837314
I'm sorry, You misunderstood me. View only mode is just an "option"

You can completely control the system with both of those programs. I was just trying to explain one of the features you can choose to use.
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18844060
OK. 3 questions:

1. Can I make PCAnywhere run on Windows XP Pro and Home editions ?

2. Is it possible that the local user at the remote machine can also continue his work ? If it is not possible with PCAnywhere, is it possible with any other Remote Control software ? I read in some other thread that Dameware lets the local user also continue his work ??

3. Will the local user need to explicitly "allow" the remote user each time the remote user tries to login ?

Thanks a lot for your help.
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18844163
Few more questions:

1. Is Configuring PCAnywhere difficult ? How much time it may take for configuring it on 4 machines. I need to quote to my client for the configuration charges.

2. From 1 computer, will the user be simultaneously able to access 2 different remote computers.

3. Sitting on computer 1, can the user transfer files from computer 2 to computer 3 ?

4. Sitting on computer 1, can the user make remote connection to computer 2, and from this remote connection, make another remote connection from computer 2 to computer 3 (if all 3 computers have the remote access software) ?

Pls. reply to all the 3 questions above and 4 questions here. I am willing to create a new question and give more points if reqd.

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by:bbrunning
ID: 18845113

1. Can I make PCAnywhere run on Windows XP Pro and Home editions ?
>Yes

2. Is it possible that the local user at the remote machine can also continue his work ? If it is not possible with PCAnywhere, is it possible with any other Remote Control software ? I read in some other thread that Dameware lets the local user also continue his work ??
>No, No and Dameware has a "View Only" mode that allows you to view what the user is doing without interrupting just like Remote Admin does but you cannot both work on seperate things at the same time.

3. Will the local user need to explicitly "allow" the remote user each time the remote user tries to login ?
>No

1. Is Configuring PCAnywhere difficult ? How much time it may take for configuring it on 4 machines. I need to quote to my client for the configuration charges.
>No, installation takes only about 5 minutes on each machine, configuring (takes me 30 seconds but I also know my way around the program) You also need to configure the router for port forwarding. My case I charge minimum 1 hour for 4 clients plus 1 server. Go 2 hours for the quote to be safe if you are not confortable.

2. From 1 computer, will the user be simultaneously able to access 2 different remote computers.
Yes but you stated first that there will be only 1 server(remote system) You cannot put 2 remote systems on the same network and have port forwarding work correctly without an advanced routing system.

3. Sitting on computer 1, can the user transfer files from computer 2 to computer 3 ?
I think you don't understand who this works. Read above statement.

4. Sitting on computer 1, can the user make remote connection to computer 2, and from this remote connection, make another remote connection from computer 2 to computer 3 (if all 3 computers have the remote access software) ?
Depends on network setup and locations
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by:bbrunning
ID: 18845157
Another thing, yes you can remotely access more than 1 system if they are on the same network. If you have 1 system trying to connect to a remote location, you can only remote into that 1 remote computer...but from that 1 remote system you technically could remote from there into another system with pcanywhere and so on. It would take a good amount of bandwidth to do that though. I have in some occasions remotely controlled a server at an office network...and then from that server I have remoted into another system on the network.
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18845176
>> Yes but you stated first that there will be only 1 server(remote system) You cannot put 2 remote systems on the same network and have port forwarding work correctly without an advanced routing system.

Well, all the machines are likely to be independent machines or on different networks. Anyway I am going to access them using PCAnywhere over intent, not over LAN.
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18845180
Does PCAnywhere have different editions ? Which version and/or edition I need to buy and how many licenses, etc. Any idea ?
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 18847706
Well, since I don't use PCAnywhere (I don't have a high regard for anything Symantec), my knowledge of this specific product is limited...  but, you will need a HOST license for all hosts, and a Server licence (known as REMOTE by Symantec) for each PC that you are connecting from...    Notice the product lines..  they have a HOST product only, so you need to purchase 3 of these, and then one of the Full Product..

Personally, I wonder if you will be able to do what you want with this product..   I only mention this to make you aware of the possible negative results you might experience...

FE
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 18847714
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by:bbrunning
ID: 18847988
PCAnywhere is kind of insecure as well. I don't recommend it to my clients. The open sourcing (free) VNC remote administration programs are more secure and they don't cost a thing. Check out Ultra VNC if you're interested. Google it.
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 18849982
One other thing that stood out when I reviewed PCAnywhere..  the total LACK of documentation!  and I agree with bb that VNC is a good product, that is free..  used it many times before, but not in the way you are wanting to use it..  not sure whether it would work for you either given your requirements..

Also, be aware that you are asking that the Local User must not be interrupted..  if you crank up anything that remotely accesses a PC, then you are going to take a performance hit on the host..  and the user may well experience delays on the PC in accessing whatever they may be doing at the time..
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18853054
>> Personally, I wonder if you will be able to do what you want with this product

Well .. but bbrunning almost answered all my requirements as possible with PCAnywhere.

>> The open sourcing (free) VNC remote administration programs are more secure and they don't cost a thing. Check out Ultra VNC if you're interested.

Can VNC or Ultra VNC meet all the requirements I have asked in this thread ?


>> I agree with bb that VNC is a good product, that is free..  used it many times before, but not in the way you are wanting to use it..  not sure whether it would work for you either given your requirements..

If VNC cannot meet my requirements, then it is of no use for me. Which other software can meet my requirements ?

>> Also, be aware that you are asking that the Local User must not be interrupted..  

This is no longer a requirement. Even if the local user has to end his session, it is fine with me now.
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by:Fatal_Exception
ID: 18854587
Yes, bb did a great job here..  this is the comment that hits squarely at what you are trying to do..

2. From 1 computer, will the user be simultaneously able to access 2 different remote computers.
Yes but you stated first that there will be only 1 server(remote system) You cannot put 2 remote systems on the same network and have port forwarding work correctly without an advanced routing system.

3. Sitting on computer 1, can the user transfer files from computer 2 to computer 3 ?
I think you don't understand who this works. Read above statement.
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18856603
To the above 2 comments, I had said :

"all the machines are likely to be independent machines or on different networks. Anyway I am going to access them using PCAnywhere over internet, not over LAN."

and bb had also said:
"I have in some occasions remotely controlled a server at an office network...and then from that server I have remoted into another system on the network."

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by:bbrunning
ID: 18857749
>>"all the machines are likely to be independent machines or on different networks.<<
Then there shouldn't be a problem accomplishing what you want.

As far as my above answer...did you have another question about it?
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18858277
>> Then there shouldn't be a problem accomplishing what you want

Exactly, thats what I made from your responses.

But then Fatal Exception said: "Personally, I wonder if you will be able to do what you want with this product..   "

So these are contradictory responses ..

bb, you had also recommended Ultra VNC. You know all my requirements now, and you also know the product Ultra VNC. Do you think Ultra VNC can meet my needs ?


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by:bbrunning
ID: 18858374
As long as you don't require multiple logins and don't worry about user interruptions on the remote side, either programs will do what you need
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18858673
Thanks. That almost settles the issue. 2 final things:

1. Which one is more user-friendly ? Ultra VNC or PCAnywhere ?

2. Which one is more secure ?
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by:rajesh_khater
ID: 18858781
Ah, and one more thing:

>> As long as you don't require multiple logins and don't worry about user interruptions on the remote side, either programs will do what you need

Is there ANY program that allows multiple logins and doesn't interrupt the local user ? (This is not a requirement right now, but just curious to know.)

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bbrunning earned 500 total points
ID: 18859142
Only a server can do this. IE, you can run multiple logins to Windows Server 2000/2003, Linux, Unix, Netware server, etc.
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