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Simple-Help Remote software doesn't "join" to remote client consistently

Posted on 2014-12-16
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Last Modified: 2015-03-03
Wanted to know if anyone out there has had any problems like I describe below with Simple-Help connecting and then not "Joining" successfully, and, IF they have found a fix for it.    

The Simple-Help company is in England and they only respond by email when you submit a service request. For example, I sent an email to them 3 weeks ago and still no response. There is no other support method for the US.  

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I was using Simple-Help since February 2014 and have not been very happy with this product for a variety of reasons.   Started out by installing the 3.x version of software on a Server 2012 R2 computer.    I support various small businesses which have a mix of Linux, Apple, and Windows.  User base is as follows:  Windows is approximately 85%, Apple 13%, and Linux 2%.

I purchased Simple-Help because they advertised on their website that their software worked with Apple, Windows, and Linux.   Compared to some other choices, it seemed that they had a very organized and clean interface and was easy to use.

Windows connectivity would work most of the time.  Sometimes I would have to connect twice before it would stay connected.  I could live with this due to variances in my customers' ISP's. Prior to purchase, I tested with one Linux customer who had slow internet and it connected.  At the time I was not able to connect to my Apple customers, but, trusted their advertising.

When I was needing (after purchase) to connect with an Apple Mac Mini customer, it didn't work.  The client wouldn't load for the customer, so, ended having to make a site visit.  When I contacted SimpleHelp by email, they stated that "Simple-Help" only works with Apple computers with Intel Processors".   However, they had NO ( and still don't) have a compatibility list on their website.  

I continued to have problems with some Windows Server 2008 systems not "joining" until having to try multiple times, so, when Simple-Help released the 4.x version, my thought was that maybe upgrading to 4.x would maybe resolve these issues.

When I upgraded to 4.x, in September 2014, my connection problems got worse.  Most of the time, it would connect, but, then it would give an error message that "the remote computer was not responding and Simple-Help is trying to reconnect".  However, Simple-Help would never reconnect.  Also, even though it didn't connect, in another pane of dashboard, it would show that the remote computer was connected.  Eventually, it would disconnect, or, you could restart the Simple-Help service to disconnect it.

I contacted them and they were aware of that problem and were aware of problems with Server 2008.   They came out with a couple of more releases, and I tried upgrading to those.

Before each upgrade, I would backup the software so as to retain my client list, then, reinstall using the upgraded application.  After upgrading both times, still had same problems with connections.  Tried changing UDP/TCP network settings, but still had same problems.

Tried uninstalling 4.x version of software and going back to 3.x, but, after reinstalling 3.x, still had same problem, so, uninstalled that and reinstalled 4.x.  Still have same issues.

I installed SSH on 2 of my largest customers' servers, and have Cisco VPN access to a third and I'm able to connect and work successfully to each of them, so, I'm sure the problem is not wholly related to my customers' ISP or server.

Over the last 2 months emailed Simple-Help tech support various times and this has not helped to resolve any issues.  And, after my last two emails over 3 weeks ago, they have not responded at all.  So at this point, I have a $300 software package which doesn't work, and essentially no tech support from the Simple-Help.

Any help would be appreciated.
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Question by:jcrdsl77
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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> have not been very happy with this product for a variety of reasons.

Then I would recommend switching to a product that you're happy with. I can't help you with Simple-Help, but if you're willing to consider a different product, TeamViewer is fantastic:

http://www.teamviewer.com/en/index.aspx

They have versions for:

Windows
http://www.teamviewer.com/en/download/windows.aspx

Mac
http://www.teamviewer.com/en/download/mac.aspx

Linux
http://www.teamviewer.com/en/download/linux.aspx

And even a mobile app
http://www.teamviewer.com/en/download/mobile-app.aspx

It is fast, stable, and reliable. It is easy to learn and use. I think this is a product you'll be very happy with. Regards, Joe
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by:jcrdsl77
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Thanks for reply, But, I paid $325 for this software which is expensive for my small business.   I looked into Teamviewer and others and they are very expensive compared to the amount of money it would generate for the business.  I'm also more interested in software I can run on my own server instead of a hosted subscription solution such as Teamviewer.

Trying to see if I can find a solution to the problems with this software first before moving to another.
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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I understand that $325 is not an insignificant amount of money for a small business, but time is also of vital significance, and based on the write-up in your original post, it seems that you could be spending a lot of time trying to overcome the ineptitude of SimpleHelp — both its product and its technical support. This is time that would be much better spent running your small business.

TeamViewer may not be the right solution for you due to its expense and hosted/cloud architecture, but based on your opening story, I think you're swimming upstream with SimpleHelp. You say that Windows works "most of the time", which doesn't sound good enough to me for 85% of your customer base. And if I'm understanding you right, Apple has never worked — for 13% of your customer base (or at least those Apple customers without Intel CPUs). Couple that with their seemingly non-existent support, and I think that writing off the $325 as a bad investment is the way to go, as unpleasant as that is.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts from the cheap seats. :)  I can't help you with SimpleHelp (much as I would love to), so I'll bow out now and hope that some EE experts with SimpleHelp experience/expertise jump into the thread. Regards, Joe
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by:jcrdsl77
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Joe,
Thanks for both your replies.   I'd posted various forums on various sites and didn't get much response, however, after reinstalling the software several times and reinstalling Java I was able to get it to work - sort of.  

After hours of experimenting and troubleshooting this myself as well as from some internet research, I found that if I restart the Simple-Help service which runs on the Windows 2012 R2 server before trying to connect to the remote user, it works ok.   If I don't restart the service, it will just connect to the remote user and disconnect immediately.   It took me a while after experimenting to figure this out.

Still, when connecting to a Windows 2008 server, it will connect, but as soon as you log in, it will disconnect.  If you connect again the 2nd time it will stay connected.  Simple-Help is aware of this problem but they haven't fixed it.  

Before they upgraded their software to 4.x version everything worked great, so, in the beginning, it was a good investment. If I had to make the decision again, I would go with ScreenConnect.   I had demoed their product and it worked as well, but, the Simple-Help interface was cleaner.  ScreenConnect has telephone support  and is located in the US.
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Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 500 total points
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You're welcome — and thanks to you for the update. Although you've made some progress, it still sounds as if this tool is not reliable enough for business purposes. If you think that ScreenConnect will be better, you may want to consider writing them to see if they have what many software companies refer to as a "competitive upgrade". Even if it doesn't exist formally, it gives them an excuse for offering a deep discount — so they can give you a much better price without subverting their official pricing. It's interesting that their single-license price is exactly the same as SimpleHelp — $325. If you tell them that you are a licensed SimpleHelp customer who is interested in ditching SimpleHelp and moving to ScreenConnect, they may give you a very large discount — I'm thinking in the 50% range. Just an idea, considering the problems with SimpleHelp and the fact that ScreenConnect worked well in your demo of it and that they have US-based telephone support. Regards, Joe
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