It’s a fact of life. For every hardware and software
product, there is a need for a quality and well-equipped technical support
team. However, sometimes troubleshooting over the phone isn’t the best way to
solve certain issues. When interacting with the client’s desktop is warranted,
you’ll want a fairly idiot-proof way of gaining access without convoluted RDP
or VNC configuration. Citrix, the same company that brought you GoToMeeting, has
another tool to sate remote access needs.

GoToAssist

GoToAssist is a utility
that takes the remote assistance to a level of ease that isn’t possible to find
using other remote desktop software. There isn’t any need to find out the
destination IP address or incorporate tedious port forwarding protocol on the
router. With GoToAssist, I’ve been able to successfully connect to all but the
most restrictive systems remotely and get the job done.

The GoToAssist main window

With one quick login through the GoToAssist representative
application, getting up and running was quite simple. In the main interface,
you are able to generate special one-time use codes that can be emailed to
whomever you wish to connect with. Codes that you ultimately create expire
after around 20 minutes so that your GoToAssist account isn’t tied up on a
previously active ticket.

Product Information

  • Title: GoToAssist
  • Company: Citrix
  • Product URL:
    http://gotoassist.com
  • Price: 30-day free trial,
    then prices ranging from $69 and to $119 per month, per technician (depending the desired feature set).

On the client facing side of the equation, accepting an
invite to share your screen with a support rep is extremely simple. All you do
is click the link provided in the email and then run the GoToAssist applet when
prompted. Everything else works behind the scenes, sending a handshake to the
requestor’s system using GoToAssist’s servers as the intermediary. Within a few
minutes, you will be connected and are given the option to either grant
view-only or full access.

This is what the client sees when they first
connect to GoToAssist’s servers

In addition to the obvious functionality of diving into
someone’s computer and taking control, GoToAssist offers file transfer,
multi-monitor navigation, annotation tools to point out notes to clients, and
even remote access over mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. For those
supporting mixed environments such as Windows and OS X systems, GoToAssist is
able to connect just fine to either operating system.

One of the features I mentioned, multi-monitor support, is fairly
seamless, since all you need to do is position your mouse on the center edge of
either side of the GoToAssist window, and the focus will then shift to another
panel. This is great for when the client has multiple windows open and you
don’t have to have them drag windows around for you.

A remote session presented to a support
representative

Finally, as an important piece to the ensemble, whenever you
are done solving an issue for the client and end the session, you are prompted
to enter a case resolution status and a ticket number. This can then be tracked
centrally by your IT department to see how many support tickets are completed
or still outstanding.

Now, onto my nitpicks. While I found GoToAssist to be an apt
tool for remote assistance, some interesting quirks were encountered. For one,
whenever I would launch a setup program or any EXE that required UAC elevation,
I am unable to see the prompt correctly and the client would have to click the “Yes”
button in order for me to proceed. Even once my screen share re-establishes a
connection to the remote display, I still can’t click any other buttons until
the app in question is exited.

Bottom line

Despite those small details, GoToAssist, with its
comprehensive remote assistance functionality and cross-platform support, is
quite a nice tool to have for all IT support personnel, especially when dealing
with customers from outside your organization. With prices starting at $69/month
per technician, it’s not a bad price all things considered. And, if you’re on
the fence about it, a 30-day risk-free trial is available for download at the GoToAssist website.