What Is Remote Access And How To Set It Up?

Some inexperienced users are intimidated by the term remote access — they think that a remote desktop connection can be used to spy on a user’s computer and commit fraud. And this is not paranoia — scammers do use remote desktop software for their own purposes, so it is important to understand what remote access is, what technology it uses and how to make remote access secure 

What Is Remote Desktop?

To use generic terminology, remote access software allows remote access to a remote computer via the internet or a local network. It can be used for many purposes, such as file transfer, security and remote assistance. 

Remote access is used by system administrators, technical support operators and ordinary users working remotely. In addition, remote access software allows you to connect to a family member or friend’s computer one-off to play games or help them set up the right app.

There are three main categories of remote access software:

  • Desktop (Teamviewer, Anydesk, LogMeIn)
  • Browser-based (Splashtop, Getscreen, Zoho Assist)
  • Open Source (Mash Central, Aspia)

Each of these programs provides the ability to connect remotely from one device to another, but they do so in different ways: via code, via a link, or via a server. Desktop remote access software needs to be installed on all the devices you plan to connect to — which creates problems with unsupervised access. Browser-based solutions are convenient and easy to set up — all you have to do is register on the website, pass on the link to connect and once it has been activated by the user, you will see their screen.

For permanent access, you can add a computer to your personal account by installing the agent software, after which you can connect to the desired device at any time. Open source programs, on the other hand, are only suitable for experienced technicians, as they are quite complex to set up.

Remote Access Features

Let’s break down the basic features to help us understand what is remote desktop connection. It is worth noting that the number of features depends on the tariff plan — the higher the price, the wider the range of tools. So it’s worth looking at the plans carefully and using the free trial to make sure that the plan you choose includes everything you need.

Uninterrupted access: devices can be set up at any time. You can always view a list of devices and their current status (e.g. all computers, in session, online, offline).

Fast support: an operator can connect to a client’s remote device in seconds. 

Browser solution or software installation: access devices remotely via a web browser link, software installation or a combined solution.

Communication: communication between devices via text chat, VoIP, video, annotation, board and screenshots, or shared screen.

Cross-platform access: access to desktop platforms – Windows, Linux, Mac, Chrome OS and Raspberry Pi; mobile devices – iOS, Android, Windows mobile and Blackberry. Some programs limit the type of platforms they can connect to.

Integration: Integrate the software with other business applications such as Telegram, Zendesk, Jira and others, simplifying workflows.

Logs and reports: this functionality allows you to track remote access sessions and web activity of users.

Multiple monitor support: view multiple monitor screens on a remote computer.

Single Instant Access: allows one-time access to a device using a unique access ID and key.

Remote printing: printing from a device to which you have remote access.

Scalable: Easily add or remove devices from the setup.

Session scheduling and recording: schedule remote access sessions and record what happens.

Remote Desktop Connection Setup

Usually, the setting up of a remote desktop is handled by the system administrators working in the company. Users only need to know how the remote access software works and what they need to click to connect to a remote computer or access their device. Most services have clear instructions on how to set up remote access.

However, if you are looking for remote access software for yourself to connect to your office computer from home, it is important for you to know how to install and set up remote access. It is advisable to choose software that is visually pleasing and easy to understand, as this will make it easier to set up. The best way to do this is to connect to your remote desktop from your browser — just register on the website, download the agent software and add your remote computer to your personal account. 

You are also advised to learn how to set up Wake-on-LAN – this will allow you to connect remotely even when the computer is switched off.