*This article was updated on 8/13/16 to include Windows Remote Desktop, RealVNC, and AnyDesk on the list.*
Are you in the market for some quality remote desktop services?
These services are ideal for businesses looking to share information or collaborate on projects without being on site, but it is also perfect for anyone just looking to stream a movie to their PC screen.
Whatever your needs are, one of these six remote desktop services should fit the bill.
TeamViewer is considered by many to be the end all, be all of the remote desktop services, and it is understandable why they would think so. TeamViewer is free to download and has tonnes of features with it. Apparently, you can remotely access any computer for online meetings and presentations, 24/7 computer support, or backing up your files. The download is free, but users can opt-in for a one-time licensing purchase that gives them access to a tonne more features. The licenses are pretty expensive, though, starting at $749. But, license purchases only benefit businesses so that average users would be fine with the free download. The great thing about TeamViewer is how quick and straightforward it is to set-up. In two minutes or less you can have TeamViewer installed and be ready to access remotely any device you want.
LogMeIn has made a huge name for itself as a remote desktop service, and in its time it has developed a wide range of services designed for specific remote access needs, including Join.me. The free account is a little bare on features, but it is still really nice. Free users can only add one computer to remote access, but they can access said computer from any other computer or mobile device. Users can also backup data from that computer, just in case anything happens to it (say, for example, the oh-so-dreaded hard drive crash). The pro version allows users to add up to two computers for $99 a year, and they also get unique features like remote printing. LogMeIn also offers service that allows you to access remotely other monitors for IT support, which could be excellent for businesses. For a service that has a lot of diverse remote desktop services, LogMeIn is a credible option.
Join.me, an extension of LogMeIn, is an excellent service for anyone looking to video conference from anywhere. In fact, Join.me is designed with that mind. Ranked #1 in ease of use, Join.me has made a name for itself as a simple and reliable remote access service. Join.me has software available for Windows and Mac and apps for iOS, Android, and Amazon. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t appear to have any support for Windows Mobile. Pro users can get plug-ins for both Salesforce and Google Chrome. The free version of Join.me gives users instant access to screen sharing and voice over the internet. The Pro edition costs $20 per person/per month, and gives users access to online meetings and unlimited audio conferencing. The Enterprise edition, $25 per month/ person, give users all of this as well as a wide range of management tools to keep the conference running smoothly.
Splashtop is an awesome remote desktop service for anyone looking to use it across a wide variety of devices. Splashtop is available for Mac and PC and has apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and even Amazon (so you can get it for your Amazon Phone or Kindle Fire). The apps do cost money, though. Splashtop allows users to control their PCs from any device that is on the same network for free, and it provides access to up to 5 computers before users have to pay. That isn’t bad if you’re looking for a free option, but it does stink if you are seeking to access your PC from a different network. A premium version only costs $16.99 a year, though, so at least it’s affordable. Businesses can get it for $60 a year, and they get a tonne more features, including multiple users, file transfers, and even Remote Support.
WebEx has a tonne of cool features, especially if you’re a premium member. Today, though, we will just focus on the free account. While it lacks many of the features of the premium account, WebEx Free allows users to have video conferences with up to three users, share their desktop screen, meeting recordings, 250 MB of file storage, and a few other features. The video is only standard quality, though, but it upgrades to HD if you go premium. But for anyone looking for a productive tool effectively uses screen sharing, this is a good one to use.
NoMachine initially slipped from under our noses, which is a shame because this is a stellar service. NoMachine allows you to access any PC with NoMachine installed. It has all the usual features that a lot of these services have, including having apps for Android and iOS (NoMachine also has a version available for Linux). What makes NoMachine unique is the ability to record what you are doing on your device. That’s perfect for anyone looking to present a seminar or record a how-to video or even capture a great clip! Like others, NoMachine is also free for personal users and comes with its own private and secure server for your systems. Businesses can also buy subscriptions to access unique features.
RealVNC is an exciting addition to the list. RealVNC uses Virtual Network Computing, which is a protocol rather than a full-fledged software. RealVNC is backed by the original creators of the protocol, though, and with RealVNC, they have made an impressive remote desktop service that pretty hard to beat. The personal version of the software is free too. You can upgrade to commercial and enterprise editions of the software for $30 per PC and $44 per PC respectively. Each version comes with impressive features like cross-platform control, VNC authentication, and multi-language support. The higher tier options include awesome things like printing, file transfer, and even online chat support.
Microsoft Remote Desktop
If you aren’t interested in downloading a program, you could always just set up the remote desktop service available on every Windows PC. The settings for it aren’t directly out in the open, but everything about launching it is still native to the software (yes, even Windows 10). As long as you know details like your computer’s IP address, it is pretty simple to set up. Just open the Command Prompt and type mstsc. After that, a remote desktop window should appear. All you do is type in the IP address of the computer you want (which you can find by typing ipconfig into the Command Prompt on said computer) to remote access, and you are all done. It lacks in a lot of features these other services offer, but for something quick and straightforward, the RDC is as simple as it gets.
AnyDesk is a new player in the remote desktop game, but they are undoubtedly a game changer. They mostly built their software from the ground up and aimed to be faster and lighter than the competition. That’s because AnyDesk was built with today’s higher resolutions and better screens in mind. Best of all, AnyDesk is just one megabyte, which means it will download and be ready virtually instantly. It is free for casual users, and the cost goes up pretty quickly from there. It is €290 for the Lite version, which enables the software for commercial use. The Professional version costs €750, and it includes features like file transfer, session logging, and admin features. These prices are pretty steep, but at least AnyDesk offers a payment plan for them. There is also an Enterprise version available on demand.
Honourable Mention: Chrome Remote Desktop
Chrome Remote Desktop doesn’t compete with anything else on this list regarding features, but it is a handy remote desktop service for anyone looking for something straightforward and easy to use. Anyone who has Chrome Remote Desktop (and the required password, of course) can access and manage your computer through Chrome. That’s all there is to it. It isn’t anything fancy, but it’s ideal for someone looking for a free solution to do some quick work or help a friend out. Chrome Remote Desktop has a plug-in for Chrome (duh) as well as apps for Android and iOS.
And those are the nine best free remote desktop services. Each of these services is unique and offers different features, so it is ultimately up to you and your needs which one will be the most beneficial to you.