Symantec pcAnywhere Review

Symantec pcAnywhere is the single bestselling remote computer access software available today. This software, like most types of remote access software, allows a user to remotely access and control another computer over the internet. With multiple licenses, a user can even install the client and host on the same computer, so that one can control and transfer files between various computers.

review of symantec remote access software

Symantec pcAnywhere is the oldest of all types of similar remote access software. Now 20 years old, it is still the best-selling option. It is said to have the best UI for people who are unfamiliar with computers, as well as an extremely in-depth UI for more advanced users who need this form of detail. This software can even replace help-center remote control software, as users who need support can install a thin client that allows one-way support.

Symantec pcAnywhere is an excellent option for those who are looking for robust remote computer access and control software.

What are the features of pcAnywhere and what are weaknesses?

pcAnywhere has one of the best feature sets of all availble consumer remote access software. Some of the best features are:

Built-in encryption

  • pcAnywhere connections are always done over a 256-bit encrypted connection. This connection exceeds industry standards, and would be practically impossible to break. This encryption also occurs in both directions, meaning that data is encrypted as it travels from the host to the client and vice-versa.

File transfer

  • pcAnywhere allows users to transfer files in both directions. While this seems to be a very simple feature, many remote desktop clients do not allow this, or allow it in only one direction. This can be very useful in help-desk situations, such as when a help-desk rep needs to transfer an update to a customer or something similar.

Multiple sessions

  • pcAnywhere allows a user to have an unlimited number of sessions going at once. The only limitation on the number of sessions is the amount of bandwidth that the consumer is using. This feature is much better than comparable features found in similar industry software. Most such software has a limitation on the number of sessions, typically to eight or twelve. This makes this software much stronger for help desks than most such software, though the average user who just wants the software to access his or her home computer would never use multiple sessions.

Clients for all operating systems

  • An excellent feature of pcAnywhere is that there is a client for all major operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, as well as Blackberry and Windows Mobile. iPhone and Android OS clients are coming soon as well. This far exceeds the compatibility that most competitors offer. In fact, pcAnywhere even has a client that is programmed in Java. And because Java is a language that is designed to be compatible with any platform, this means that even a set-top box or an obscure mobile OS could be controlled with a little bit of tweaking. This is a feature that no other similar software currenly offers.

Connect to computers via modem, serial cable, parallel cable

  • For even more connectivity options, pcAnywhere does allow users to connect with a modem, serial cable, and parallel cable. However, considering that many of today’s computers do not even have ports for these connections, and that this software is primarily used for remote connections, it is highly unlikely that anyone would ever use this feature. Also, strangely enough, a USB connection has been left out of the mix, while most of the similar software packages do allow a simple connection via USB.

pcAnywhere Mobile

  • This is an excellent feature that does not exist on any of the competition. pcAnywhere allows users to tap directly into common important Windows utilities, though the feature does not yet exist for the Mac OS. This means that a representative can access the task manager or command prompt without having to set up a whole connection, which consumers a lot of bandwidth.

That last is perhaps the largest weakness of this software. pcAnywhere consumers report needing a huge amount of bandwidth. It may be a result of the strong encryption, but the compression algorithm that is used on this software is very weak, and for people who do not have a very fast internet connection, using pcAnywhere could prove to be very slow and problematic.

What is the cost of pcAnywhere relative to other such options and where can I buy it?

A single license of pcAnywhere is $200. This allows a single machine based on a recent Windows operating system to control an unlimited number of other machines with the client on them. This is not a subscription service, so no renewal is ever needed. The only future costs of this software are related to upgrades, which currently cost $100.

Symantec typically offers security patches for a single version of the software for five years after its release, so upgrading immediately is not necessary. There is a trial version of pcAnywhere with severely limited features, but it is so limited that it really does not give the feel for what the software can really do.

Final thoughts on pcAnywhere: (Still) Best in Class

pcAnywhere is still, after 20 years, likely the best remote access software right now. With an intuitive yet in-depth UI, and an unlimited number of parallel connections, pcAnywhere remains the bestselling software for a very good reason. pcAnywhere is highly recommended for the purpose of remotely controlling a computer.

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