I’ve been using TeamViewer to remotely administer and maintain my dad’s computer in Europe, 5,000 miles away from here, and to help my friends with their PCs and even networks, and I have nothing but praises about this great internet remote desktop utility. However, although it’s free for private use, it has a hefty price for those starting own business on a shoestring with $749 for the cheapest business license ($1,500 for premium and $2,690 for corporate license). This is still a great price considering that it is one-time purchase without monthly fees like similar services, but it’s still money I’d rather invest in a fancy new laptop. (Read more about commercial remote support solutions and comparison of LogMeIn vs. TeamViewer vs. Techinline in my newer post).
So, other than using the personal feature for business, which can cost you your business and mucho dinero, there are two free alternatives: using built-in Windows Remote Assistance or Google Chrome Remote Desktop Beta. I have high hopes with Google Chrome Remote because it supposedly works cross-operating systems that have Chrome installed, so with it or similar costly tools you can easily support even Linux, Mac, Windows and more from each other, but both the beta version and “grant access to all files and settings” messages can be worrying both you and people you support. Moreover, Chrome Remote Desktop runs in a browser window, so for now I stick with the full screen, built-in Windows Remote Assistance, which is kind of a pain to set up, but here’s how (another one of my notes to self, converted to post for everyone).
How to Initiate Windows Remote Assistance Session on Windows 7
Here’s how to start a Windows 7 remote assistance session with a technically inclined friend or a support person (requires full administrator access to your workstation):
1. Click on Windows Start button (usually in the bottom left corner)
2. Type in “msra.exe” without quotes and press Enter
3. Click on “Invite someone you trust to help you”
4. If you don’t get a prompt “This computer is not set up to send invitations”, skip to #5. If you do get the above message, click on “Repair” button under it and after your PC is done with detecting problems, click on “Try these repairs as an administrator”, then if you get “Fixed” result, close the window and go back to #1. If this is not helping, see how to manually enable Windows Remote Assistance below.
5. Click on “Invite someone to help you”
6. Click on “Use Easy Connect”
7. Tell your helper the 12-character password
8. Click on “Yes” when your helper tries to connect and you get the question “Would you like to allow XxyyZz to connect to your computer?” and wait for the next prompt.
9. Click on “Yes” when you get prompt “Would you like to allow XxyyZz to share control of your desktop (remote helper first needs to request this).
10. Once the session is done you can click on “Stop sharing” or just close window.
It’s that easy! (I’ve seen easier, but this is free).
Manually Enable Windows Remote Assistance
Usually this has to be done only once, but it can also done automatically by Windows as described in step #4 above.
1. Go to Start (round Window button, usually in the bottom left corner) and click on “Computer”
2. Click on “System Properties” on top menu bar of the Computer window
3. Click on Advanced System Settings link on the left
4. Click on Remote Tab, put a check mark in the box “Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer” and click OK
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