A Beginner’s Guide To Remote Access Software
Embracing The Cloud – Bringing It All Together
During the short time that the Internet has existed in the form that end-users recognize today, a lot of things have changed. Computing power and network bandwidth have made accessing and sharing data between a variety of different machines across vast distances not only easier but also more secure.
Thanks to encryption and various tunneling protocols, Virtual Private Networks and remote access software give professionals and office workers the ability to reach resources remotely. Data stored on the company network or work PCs can be reached without having to work on those machines physically.
It often makes prudent financial sense to switch services to servers in data centers, and enabling workers both at the office and their own homes to tap into the company LAN from any location.
- Remote access increases productivity, saves money on hardware and results in a robust and flexible staff that can accomplish more with less.
- It can also help in streamlining work flow, enhancing collaboration between employees and departments, enabling teleconferencing and telecommuting and many other areas of modern business and E-commerce.
If your company doesn’t already have a solid remote access software system in place, you should seriously consider getting one.
All About Remote Access Software
Essentially, remote access software saves companies a substantial amount of money on infrastructure and hardware costs, as pretty much any machine (no matter how underpowered) can access the network from any location.
Thin clients used in conjunction with terminal server software is one powerful example. If a business has quite a few mobile workers in the field that need constant access to the company’s internal resources, Virtual Private Networks with remote access capabilities enabled are a wise choice. Remote access gives employees flexibility as far as when they can work on projects as well as where they choose to work from.
In order to use remote login technology, all one needs to do is install a remote login host and client on the computers desired. For example, to access a computer from home that’s at work, you would install a host remote access program on the work PC. Then, a client program is installed on the home-based PC or laptop so that one can login to the work machine at any time.
On the plus side, remote access programs are generally quite secure and fast. The disadvantages are that easy to use web-based programs can cost a lot of money at the outset – but generally, they are worth it in terms of increased efficiency over the long haul.
What Can It Do For My Business?
The reasons for setting up and configuring remote access software for secure access to internal company resources are self-explanatory. By allowing employees to work after hours whenever they need to or when they’re feeling most productive, projects are completed more quickly. It’s also extremely flexible, allowing any Internet-capable device such as a PDA, smart phone or tablet computer to access the VPN of your choice remotely.
Remote access tools also boost the power and efficiency of collaboration on files stored on the corporate network by different employees. Group projects benefit from the input of many different individuals facilitated by remote access capabilities.
Teleconferencing and web-based presentations can be accomplished on the fly by remote workers who can draw on media and other data from a wide variety of sources. Remote login tools also help to preserve security and safety within and amongst Virtual Private Networks, protecting sensitive information and thwarting attempts to infect systems with malicious software. Thanks to Secure Shell and Advanced Encryption Security technology, files are protected from the public network of the Internet without having to resort to expensive, dedicated leased lines to transport communications and data.
Service Providers and Options For Remote Access
There are number of ways to access files on your host computer’s hard drive and on the LAN network it’s connected to remotely. Services like GoToMyPC, LogMeIn Pro and Symantec’s pcAnywhere as well as completely free alternatives like FreeNX and Microsoft’s SharedView all provide secure and encrypted remote login for remote users. You can purchase and easily install any of these software suites from the Internet, choosing either personal or corporate professional versions. RealVNC is yet another popular option that many offices choose to work with.
Each service has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, such as:
- Symantec is extremely popular with IT professionals, as they’re often used to working with their products and can get up and running quickly with little trouble.
- GoToMyPC features superb administration tools, is easy to install and has the benefit of charging for their services on a monthly basis. If you want to discontinue using it, you won’t have to wait till the end of the year to switch.
- LogMeIn is by far the cheapest paid software, but is less capable than pcAnywhere.
- And Microsoft’s SharedView is free, but isn’t as powerful as the rest of the contenders.
Choosing The Right Remote Access Solution
Determining which remote access solution is right for your business depends on a variety of factors. The operating system favored in your office should factor into the decision. If your office environment runs on Windows or uses the less popular Mac OS X platform, then you’ll want to choose a remote access software program that works best with that particular system. Linux can be accessed securely simply using OpenSSH and OpenVPN. These solutions are sometimes thought of as being for the more technically inclined but the installation and usage of open source programs aren’t much different than those used on non-free platforms.
Many of the remote access software vendors we discussed such as LogMeIn offer free trials for a short period of time so that you can give the service a test drive before you buy. By all means, take advantage of these trials , as you’ll potentially need to live with that decision for a while. Switching between different software suites for remote access isn’t that difficult or time consuming, but employees that are used to one brand or version of software often are resistant to change and lose productivity during the transition period.
Pricing and Ease of Implementation
The amount that all this will cost varies widely and depends on your IT staff and budget, as well as how large your organization happens to be. For reference, a single license for Symantec’s pcAnywhere is $200, which allows one remote computer to connect to one host for a year. As you’d imagine the software must be installed on both PCs. They of course offer discounts for volume orders but this can add up quickly if you have a sizable company. The higher price tag comes with more features, such as thin client support and versions for both Mac and Linux remote machines.
The market for remote access software is fairly stable at this point, so you’ll get what you pay for from any of the major suppliers mentioned above. If a program is cheaper in terms of money, it’ll most likely cost you more in time and labor for configuration and upkeep.
You’ll also need to weigh the present, upfront costs against future costs that may be incurred if you have to expand your VPN and remote access server capacity. Scalability is one aspect that should be kept in mind at all points during the buying process. Whichever route you choose, remote access software is a smart investment in the future of any business.