The following is a paid review of the iRemotePC software and service.
If you are trying to help your parents fix their computer, or you are in a small office environment and are too lazy to get up from your desk, remote desktop tools can be very helpful.
The latest one that I got to try is called iRemotePC from Athivision Inc. For the most part it looks like your everyday remote desktop tool, but once you try it out, you’ll find a few surprises. The first one of course being that on the control side, it is web based. This is nice, as you can control a friend, family or co-workers computer from any Windows computer with an Internet connection and web browser. Note, how I said “Windows”? Well, I tried to run the client side from my Linux computer, to control my Windows computer, I was met with a few problems, seemingly from the Java that the application uses.
When I switched to using a Windows computer to control another Windows computer, it was nothing but giggles as I connected to my boss’ computer and took over his mouse and keyboard. I modified his Firefox and added a new tab button. Not amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but a good start to how easy, quick and useful this application is.
He was surprised at the multitude of things I could do, even without using the remote desktop feature. I could see his disk space, currently running applications, and even transfer files onto or away from his computer.
Another negative that I noticed, other than the limited operating system support, was in getting the initial connection running. It sends an e-mail to the person you want to connect to and they are brought to a page where they can chat with you, but you can’t join that chat, until after they run the application. Unfortunately, they don’t know to run the application, and you can’t tell them. So now you have to either call them, or e-mail them and let them know they have to look above the chat to click the icon to download and run the software. A small oversight, but a noticeable one.
Once I finished the connection using my own computers, I closed the connection from the controlling side, and on the host side, the application crashed. It was a bit of a bummer, but I didn’t notice any other stability issues in my short round of testing.
Of course, as with any remote desktop software, pricing can be an issue, but they actually have some decent prices currently including a $5 per ticket ad-hoc service, which I think will be very useful for the techie of a family, while the more business oriented package of $49.95 a month for unlimited support tickets, but that is per operator/controller. They do also offer a yearly package price of $499.50 which is basically two months free. Not too bad if you are doing more than ten support remote desktop sessions a month.