Mobility

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...

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