Smartphones

Three remote desktop apps worth a look

Remote desktop apps can be a great way to perform minor tasks while on the go. Scott Lowe highlights three of these apps: Splashtop Remote Desktop, LogMeIn Ignition, and WinAdmin.

If your organization allows remote access to systems via remote desktop tools, there are a number of apps for the iPhone and for Android devices that make it a breeze to work anytime from anywhere. In this app roundup, I feature three remote desktop tools that work in slightly different ways.

Splashtop Remote Desktop

Splashtop Remote Desktop is a high-performance app that supports multiple monitors and desktop-based video. The mobile device-based Splashtop Remote Desktop app connects to a small client that is installed on your desktop PC, which can be running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 or Mac OS X 10.6.

Perhaps the most significant downside to Splashtop Remote Desktop is that connections are required to be made solely over Wi-Fi networks; this limits, to a point, the locations from which the tool can be used. However, most Wi-Fi connections are faster than 3G, so performance should be good.

Splashtop Remote Desktop is available for the iPhone and for Android devices. At $1.99 for the iPhone version and $4.99 for the Android version, this app will certainly not break the bank.

Figures A and B are screenshots of the app from iPhone and Android devices, respectively. Figure A

Splashtop Remote Desktop for the iPhone
Figure B

The Android version of Splashtop Remote Desktop

LogMeIn Ignition

LogMeIn provides a robust, comprehensive remote desktop tool. LogMeIn Ignition requires you to install a client component on the desktop computer you wish to control.

LogMeIn Ignition supports 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2008 and 32-bit Windows 2000, and Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6 (PPC and Intel processors are supported). The Mac version is missing features such as drag and drop file transfer, remote sound, and integration with LogMeIn's centralized reporting tool; although, for occasional remote access from a handheld device, these features are probably not that critical.

LogMeIn Ignition is a client component that works on Android and Apple devices including the iPhone and the iPad. At $29.99, you will need to be able to realize real value from the app in order to justify the purchase. LogMeIn Ignition definitely isn't a "drive by download."

LogMeIn Ignition is not intended to be a "one off" remote access tool; it aggregates all of your remote connections into one view, making it easier to manage a plethora of remote systems (Figure C). Again, each managed system must have the LogMeIn client installed. Figure C

LogMeIn Ignition's computer selection page
Figures D and E are screenshots of LogMeIn Ignition on an Android device and an iPhone, respectively. Figure D

Android-based version of LogMeIn Ignition
Figure E

iPhone-based version of LogMeIn Ignition

WinAdmin

WinAdmin is another tool I have used for remote access. The app relies on Microsoft's standard RDP implementation and does not require the installation of additional client software on managed computers, which makes it a good solution for remote desktop access as well as remote server desktop access. If you're using WinAdmin to remotely access servers, you'll probably need some kind of VPN tunnel in place, or you'll need to be sitting behind your organization's firewall in order to allow the tool to work its magic.

WinAdmin is available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch; there is no Android version. At $7.99, this app might be considered in the moderately high price range for some, but if it's being used to support a server farm, it's certainly affordable.

The screenshots in Figures F, G, and H give you a look at WinAdmin. Figure F

WinAdmin's landscape-mode view is more natural for most users.
Figure G

Store connection information for all of your remote systems... just lock your phone when not using WinAdmin.
Figure H

WinAdmin's portrait mode shows the keyboard at the bottom and menu across the top of the display.

What remote desktop app do you recommend?

These are just three tools that are worthy of consideration for your organization's remote access needs. If you like a remote desktop app other than the ones I featured in this post, tell us why you recommend it.

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

10 comments
allanroger
allanroger

Hey, you forgot to mention one more alternative: RHUB`s remote support servers. It is easy to use and provides everything in one setup.

mdeans
mdeans

I've been using PhoneMyPC since it was released. It's still in beta and 10 dollars a user but you can install the client on as many computers as you want. Both PhoneMyPC and LogMeIn Ignition have interesting mouse functionality that I like. Both of them have the option for the normal "zoom in until you can't miss what you're trying to click on the screen" interface but they also have alternatives. With LogMeIn you can anchor your mouse to the middle of the screen, then you move the screen around until the mouse is over the spot you want to click. Clicking anywhere on the screen at this point clicks what the mouse is pointing at. PhoneMyPc went in a slightly different direction. It also creates a mouse point independent of where you finger is on the screen but instead of anchoring the pointer in the middle it treats the screen as though it were a touch-pad mouse on a laptop. This gives it a very easy learning curve, unless you bounce back and forth between the two programs. Both have multi-touch functionality for zooming in and out and double touch for the right mouse button.

macgvr
macgvr

I use RDP lite on my Ipod Touch and it works great. Can't compare to any other apps since I haven't used any but for a free app this is all I need.

ShaunComan
ShaunComan

I like Wyse PocketCloud. I use it on my iPad and Android. It doesn't require you to install any software. It can use RDP or VNC for connection and offers audio streaming. It also looks like it does all that the three above are capable of doing. Highly recommended at this point!

jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527
jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527

I prefer TeamViewer. It has a number of different modules, such as VPN, Remote Connection to Host, Remote Support, etc. Best of all, it's FREE for personal use. If you need more than this, the Enterprise version is very reasonably priced compared to some of the alternatives. TeamViewer works on Windows, MAC, Linux, iPad, iPhone, and Android.

TBBrick
TBBrick

We use DameWare for all of our in-network (main campus and multiple remote sites.) But Bomgar is the bomb when you have a user with a non-Internet access VPN issue. Most often the Administration.pcf file is corrupted. With Bomgar you can connect and copy the file over, easy-peasy, not-even-queasy.

robo_dev
robo_dev

Since VNC can stream video and RDP typically cannot, I can view live CCTV feeds using Mocha VNC. Mocha RDP is a bit faster, (since RDP is faster than VNC), but cannot do live video, and requires an extra login since RDP is part of Windows.

datadorklv
datadorklv

I've been using Dameware for years. It seems a bit pricey for $300, but that is by the user. You can install in onto as many machines as you administer and in a corporate environment, that's a steal. The number of things you can check in the background without ever bothering the user is amazing: registry, shares, software, users, processes, etc. And then the actual remote desktop client runs very neatly as if you were sitting at the desktop, no RDP type screen hooks or issues. It picks up everything in an AD environment, too. I use is on XP, Vista & Win7 workstations along with Windows 2003 & 2008 servers without any issues. I highly recommend it!

huskermiked
huskermiked

I have used wyse pocketcloud pro and the 2x app. Pocketcloud is very nice albeit pricey at $15 intro price I think. The 2x client is very capable and free.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

I don't use it enough to pay for anything.

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