Both Google Chrome Remote Desktop Beta and Microsoft’s built-in Windows Remote Assistance (msra.exe) are good enough when free remote assistance tools are all you can afford. However, my clients didn’t appreciate the number of steps needed to initiate a Windows Remote Assistance session, while Google Chrome Remote Desktop with the troublesome “beta” in its name runs in a browser with some scary-worded warnings during the installation, so I decided to try more user-friendly options. My initial research led me to three favorites, LogMeIn, TeamViewer and Techinline. Here’s my comparison of the three.
While their sessions run in a browser, they can be maximized to show virtually no difference to TeamViewer or Techinline. Moreover, their prices are extremely attractive. LogMeIn is the only one of the three commercial products that allows use of their free version for business purposes (without the file transfer feature though). I heard this directly in a telephone conversation with their sales expert, and you can also read this online at http://community.logmein.com/t5/Free/LMI-Free-for-commercial-use/td-p/41320.
To download LogMeIn Free, I had to answer “Who are you supporting?” with “Family or Friends”. Other options like “Customers or Hardware/Software products” or “Customers who outsource IT to my company” or “Employees of my company” were taking me to free trials of the higher end tools, but I was also able to downgrade a “Pro” installation to “Free” later when logged in to their website.
I am also currently testing the $299/yr LogMeIn Central web console for remotely controlling hosts running LogMeIn Free or LogMeIn Pro, with unlimited sessions on unlimited computers, one at a time. Without LogMeIn Central you can only login with end user credentials on LogMeIn Free or Pro, while with Central you can create deployment packages to control multiple computers and email or otherwise provide secure installation links to your clients.
Personal: Free (only LogMeIn Free, which unlike the others, also allows for free basic commercial use)
LogMeIn Central web console: $299 annually
LogMeIn Pro Annual subscription:
1 computer – $69.95
5 computers – $249
10 computers – $449
25 computers – $999
TeamViewer was my first choice because I’ve been using it flawlessly for many years to fix computers of several of my family members, mostly via overseas connections. Its functionality has been rock-steady, even when connections were flaky. Out of all remote support solutions, this is the one I’m most familiar with and it also has the best long term cost, so if I ever need frequent remote sessions for business and determine it is feasible to pay one time price of $749 for the cheapest business license I’ll go with this rather than the other two.
Currently the main differences between the three TeamViewer purchasing options are that the Business license allows for only one licensed technician control workstation ($139 for each additional) while the more expensive two allow for unlimited technician workstations; the other difference are simultaneous sessions, where the cheaper two allow only one session, while the most expensive Corporate license can have at least three concurrent support sessions with upgrades at $849 for each additional concurrent license.
Each one offers a lifetime license with no annual fees, but per my conversation with their sales support person it costs about one third of the price to upgrade to a new major version. However, all previous versions (from 1 to 6) are still functional and available for download from the website. If I decide to go with this solution, I’ll consider waiting for the version 8 (new major version compatible with Windows 8).
The cheapest TeamViewer license is still a great long term investment considering it’s a one-time purchase without any monthly or annual fees like the other two services, but it’s still a lot of money I’d rather invest in a fancy new laptop.
Since I couldn’t use TeamViewer for business purposes while on a shoestring budget, I signed up for the 15 day free trial of Techinline. Similar to TeamViewer, the installation to the end users is a breeze: they just go to http://fixme.it site and install the browser plugin, then after restarting the browser they access the same link again and get you the instant connection code. You can take over only after they allow your connection and after that your remote control (perhaps one click too many, but it assures the customer that you can’t access and take over their workstation without their consent). Both my clients’ and my own experience with this remote assistance option was impeccable, while their pricing options are more flexible and for $39 you can get either a one month subscription or a five 12-hour session pack license.
Monthly subscription: $39 (unlimited sequential sessions, one at a time)
6 months: $160
Per session (each session valid for up to 12 hours of intermittent work on same PC):
5 sessions – $39
20 sessions – $119
50 sessions – $289
100 sessions – $569
Throughout my testing, all three products have shown good, bug-free behavior. All three seem to have very quick and knowledgeable pre-sales support. If price was not the issue, I would have chosen TeamViewer because I’ve been using it for years without a single hiccup. However, TeamViewer can price-wise compete with the other two solutions only in the long run because it is costly, but sold as a one-time purchase, while the other two products are sold as annual (or per session) subscription.
Techninline has simplest web installations that my clients loved during the free trial, and it also has most flexible pricing options, including per session licenses, which other two products lack. If you need only several support sessions or if you have just a little bit of startup money and want to test your support business with a great tool, Techinline is the winner.
LogMeIn Free is the only free product of the three manufacturers that can be used for commercial purposes, but it requires software download and installation (users you support can’t just click on a link on the website like with TeamViewer or Techinline). However, combined with LogMeIn Central this becomes a powerful, yet quite affordable tool as well.
If you can’t afford any investments at first, you’ll have to work with LogMeIn Free, (or one of the other two free tools from my above mentioned post). If you know you will have a limited number of clients in the near future, then the best option might be Techinline with either per session or monthly subscription, but if you know you will be using remote support sessions constantly throughout over a year, then your best option may be TeamViewer.
These three products were selected and tested after a research on the internet in May and June 2012. The prices listed are from late June 2012 but they keep changing, so better do a bit more research and possibly a trial before you decide whether and to whom you will write the check.
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