If you have an interest in technology, you probably find your friends think you're fair game when it comes to fixing their PC problems. Remote access can take the pain out of the troubleshooting process, letting you access a friend's machine as if it were right in front of you. You can drive the controls yourself and fix problems quickly.
If you have an interest in technology, you probably find your friends think you're fair game when it comes to fixing their PC problems.
I don't mind lending a hand to a bewildered friend. But when it's inconvenient to visit and you can't rely on them to accurately describe the dilemma or follow your phone instructions, not being able to see what's onscreen can be frustrating.
Remote access can take the pain out of the troubleshooting process. It allows you to access a friend's machine as if it were right in front of you, from the comfort of your own home. You can drive the controls yourself and fix problems quickly.
To set up such a session, you'll need permission to access their PC via the web. Their desktop will appear on your screen, allowing you to access their files, programs and settings.
Microsoft provides good options in the form of Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop Connection. But if you're using a non-Windows PC or you want more functionality, several third-party apps are available free of charge on a trial basis.
If your friend would rather not give you free rein on their PC, Windows 7's Problem Steps Recorder utility can record a series of screenshots to be viewed in Internet Explorer. This will help you fix the problem from afar.
Using Remote Assistance in Windows 7
Windows offers two remote-access options: Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop Connection. The former lets you securely access a PC that's not in front of you, without others being able to access it online. This method requires a user to initiate the Remote Assistance request and then approve the incoming connection.
Remote Desktop Connection, meanwhile, is more suitable if you regularly need to connect to a remote machine. This versatile tool lets you control any PC from anywhere.
Remote Assistance isn't new to Windows 7 - it first appeared in XP - but a few tweaks along the way have unlocked new potential. To access the utility In Windows 7, click Help and Support, select ‘More support options' and choose Remote Assistance. In earlier versions of Windows, click Help and Support and run a search for Remote Assistance.
Once you've opened the utility, choose how to send a request for help. In Windows XP, this can be done via an instant message or email. Windows 7, meanwhile, lets you send an email, save the invitation as an email attachment or use Easy Connect.
If you choose Easy Connect, Windows 7 establishes a relationship between two PCs, which can then instantly connect using the utility. Selecting the email request option launches your default mail client and creates a message requesting help, along with an attachment that the recipient will need to provide their assistance. You're then prompted to create a password.
On receiving your help request email, the recipient must click on the attachment and enter the password to connect to your PC. You'll then receive a prompt requesting your permission to establish the incoming connection, plus a warning that the connection will allow them to see everything on your Windows desktop.
As long as the Remote Assistance session is connected, both you and the person you're helping will be able to see the same Windows desktop. A chat function lets you communicate with each other to troubleshoot and resolve the problem.
Remote Assistance is useful for troubleshooting remote PCs on a one-off basis. For regular remote access, Remote Desktop Connection is better.
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