IT is a 24x7 job. For some, support knows no bounds — time, distance, or elevation. Mission-critical means just that: it's critical to the mission the servers are carrying out. If they go down, that may very well represent loss of revenue or even loss of life in the case of health care support personnel.
Thankfully, there are remote access applications that allow IT to do more with less by leveraging internet bandwidth, whether they're interacting with a single desktop or an entire LAN of desktops. This helps IT professionals provide off-site support as if they were physically sitting in front of the node(s).
TeamViewer is one such remote support app with cross-platform support for OS X, Windows, and Linux on the desktop side, plus iOS, Android, and Windows 8/RT for mobile platforms (sorry BlackBerry users, support is in development at the time of this writing).
Let's take a closer look at the requirements for using TeamViewer.
- Remote computer with TeamViewer application installed or quick support app running
- iPhone/iPad with TeamViewer app installed from Apple's App Store
- Broadband or cellular internet access for both server and client devices
- Authentication credentials and/or TeamViewer randomly generated ID and Passcode
Connecting remotely with TeamViewer
Follow these steps to connect remotely to OS X:
- If the TeamViewer app has not already been installed and configured on the remote machine, please do so prior to attempting to connect. Additionally, the QuickSupport app may be used by an on-site user. Just make sure they provide the randomly generated ID and Passcode to establish a connection.
- Launch the TeamViewer app.
- If you know the Partner ID, enter it in the field. Ensure the Remote Control radio button is selected, and press the Connect to partner button to begin (Figure A).
- Conversely, if TeamViewer has already been configured for remote access and linked to a TeamViewer account, you may enter your credentials in the sidebar and click the Sign In button to authenticate (Figure B).
- One successfully logged in, the sidebar will list all the previously linked computer accounts and their current online/offline status (Figure C).
- Double-click on the computer you wish to manage, and you'll receive a prompt to enter the password. Click the Log on button enter providing the Passcode (Figure D).
- For additional security, selecting the Advanced toggle allows you to change the Authentication type from TeamViewer to Windows (in the case of authenticating to an Active Directory Domain-joined computer). Also, Access control type may be modified if you only need to view a session instead of Full Access (Figure E).
- TeamViewer provides a windowed environment or full-screen and offers full interaction with the host desktop, allowing for a complete desktop experience (Figure F).
- To end a session, simply click the close button to terminate the connection. For users of the free version, there's a small pop-up message that appears once the a connection is closed (Figure G).
Follow these steps to connect remotely with TeamViewer for iOS:
- Launch the TeamViewer app.
- If you know the Partner ID and Passcode, enter it and tap Remote Control (Figure H).
- Conversely, if TeamViewer has already been configured for remote access and linked to a TeamViewer account, tap Computers in the toolbar and enter your credentials, then tap Sign In (Figure I).
- Upon logging in, any computer accounts saved will appear, along with the current status of each device (Figure J).
- Tap the device you wish to connect to, and you'll be prompted with a pop-up menu. Select Remote Control to confirm your selection (Figure K).
- A notice of Connecting partner... will appear while establishing a connection (Figure L).
- When a connection has been made, you'll be prompted to enter your partner's password. Enter the Passcode generated by TeamViewer in the text box, then tap OK (Figure M).
- After authenticating, you should able to interact with the computer as if you were logged in locally. Tapping the keyboard icon brings up additional controls.
- The toolbar adds handy macros for common tasks, such as keyboard shortcut commands, toggling between multi-monitor setups, and zooming in the on the screen.
- After the support task has been completed, tap the X to close the connection. Tap Close once again to confirm (Figure N).
- For users of the free version of TeamViewer, there will be a small pop-up message that appears once the connection is closed. Simply tap OK to return back to the app (Figure O).
TeamViewer is a solid, light-weight application that offers multi-platform support across a range of mobile and traditional desktops and servers. And best of all, it's free for personal use. Commercial use does incur licensing fees, so visit their website for a full breakdown of the pricing models.
Included in the commercial licenses are VPN and remote printing/file transfers, WOL for powering on devices remotely, and session handover if working in a multi-support tier environment. Unlimited hosts are included at all license levels, so you can install TeamViewer on all company devices and provide a truly cohesive remote support environment to end-users and devices alike.
Tell us about the use of TeamViewer in your organization. If you don't use TeamViewer, what remote support tool(s) do you use? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from several vendors, including Apple and CompTIA.