With the current spread of the coronavirus (aka COVID-19), a lot of companies are already seeking to make arrangements to accommodate remote working, to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus while also helping to limit the impact on productivity.
Here we feature the best remote desktop software – but there’s also the best video conferencing software and the best online collaboration tools around today.
Also check out our feature on everything else you need to set up your home office.
The best remote desktop software allows you to quickly and easily access and control one PC from another, either over a local network or via the internet. This allows you to access and use PCs that aren’t just in another building – they could be on the other side of the world.
There are a number of reasons why your business or company would want to use one of the best remote desktop software picks we have below. For example, you could use a PC in one office to access a PC in another one, to grab important files.
You could also use a powerful remote PC to handle complex tasks while showing the results on a lower-powered laptop. The best remote desktop software is also useful for IT admins, who can remotely take control of a PC to help identify and fix any problems.
The best remote desktop software is installed on the remote computer (the host) as well as on any other computer you want to use to access the host computer (known as the client).
While certain versions of Windows have their own built-in Remote Desktop software, there are a number of remote access tools that do a better job and offer more features.
Best remote desktop software – at a glance
- Zoho Assist
- Connectwise Control
- Remote Utilities for Windows
- LogMeIn Pro
- Chrome Remote Desktop
- Remote Desktop Manager
Great range of features without breaking the bank
Easy to use
Zoho Assist is a cloud-based software platform that can provide remote support and remote access, in order to help provide IT support to end-user customers, or to help manage devices in an IT department.
The remote support service allows for on-demand connection without any need to pre-install software, by inviting users to connect directly via email. Unattended remote access can be set up inside and outside of your LAN, with mass deployment options available for both PC and Mac.
Whichever way it is used, various features are available, such as file transfer, voice and video chat, as well as rebooting remote devices without losing your connection to it.
Additional features include the ability of the software to auto-detect whether multiple monitors are used and display according to preferences, as well as being able to record sessions for quality and monitoring purposes, and even to organize remote computers intro groups according to function, location, or other parameters.
As well as being used for IT trouble-shooting, Zoho Assist lends itself well to training through screensharing, as well as for online video conferencing and other meetings.
There’s a free tier that allows one user to connect remotely with up to five unattended machines, but features are limited and it’s perhaps best considered a way to test the software rather than deploy commercially. The first paid tier unlocks most of the essential ones for $10 per month per user, and that’s the same for remote support or remote access.
Further features are available in additional paid tiers for remote support, and Zoho Assist also integrates with the wide range of other Zoho products, not least Zoho Desk for CRM.
Power remote support and access
Easy to deploy
Lots of features
Can be expensive
ConnectWise Control is a remote access manager that comes in two key options: Support, and Access.
Support is a cloud-based service that allows for the accessing of a user’s machine in real-time, and is intended for anything from personal use to frontend helpdesk support services. The connection is made using AES-256 encryption as well as two-factor authentication, to ensure a very high degree of security.
The Support plan offers a number of all-in-one Support-Access-Meet packages, beginning at $19 per user when paid annually, and allows for one user to make one connection. Features include file transfer, remote printing, and remote meetings. The Standard plan allows for one user to run three connections, and includes additional features such as remote command line, as well as support for mobile guest sessions, and this costs $35 if prepaid annually.
The Premium Support service allows one user to make up to ten simultaneous connections, with video auditing, reporting dashboard, and a remote diagnostic toolkit also available, all for $45 a month when paid annually.
The second option, Access, provides an access-only service for the purpose of managing large groups of machines or a mobile workforce, and allows for users to access unattended machines by installing access agents. This comes provided with a central toolbox, remote command line access, and advanced reporting. Pricing varies according to the number of unattended access agents required, and starts from $100 per month (when paid annually) for up to 100 agents.
Overall, Connectwise offers a powerful remote access service that’s easy to use and deploy, and provides a good range of extensions.
Personal or business use
Helpdesk plan option
30-day free trial
RemotePC is a remote access software platform for home or business users. Based in the cloud, it allows individuals, teams, or enterprises to remotely access one or more devices.
Computers can be easily configured for remote access, and additional users can be provided with an access ID and key as required. As RemotePC is run from the cloud, it means all you require is a browser and you’re good to connect via the web application, regardless of which device or operating system you’re using.
The connection is secured with AES-256 encryption and a personal key that acts as a password. Once made, files can be easily transferred using drag and drop and tasks such as remote printing can be carried out.
RemotePC is also scaleable, not least for business operations in managing large numbers of computers and other devices. Additional permissions are available to manage users and groups. Sessions can be recorded if required, with logs and reports also available.
For enterprises, user roles can be set up and computers grouped together, with reboot and remote control options available for full control.
An alternative Helpdesk plan is available for corporations looking to provide user support directly for customers and clients.
For individuals looking to use RemotePC, the cost is $51.12 for the first year, rising to $69.50 for the following year. For business users a custom quote is required, but a free 30-day trial is available.
The best all-round remote desktop software
Price: £31.90 per month single user, £59.90 per month multi-user
Easy to use UI
Support for numerous platforms
Can be laggy
TeamViewer is perhaps the best-known remote desktop software in the world, and for good reason, as it has support for a huge amount of platforms that allows you to remotely access a PC using a number of devices. Most recently, TeamViewer has added support for Samsung’s DeX technology, which means you can use Samsung’s smartphones like the Galaxy Note 9 to remotely access your PC. Best of all, there’s a free version for home users, which lets you test out the software before you commit. It supports 4K desktops, includes a VPN alternative and easy file sharing. Easily the best all-round remote desktop software.
The best free remote desktop software
Good range of features
Not the most straightforward UI
Remote Utilities for Windows is our pick for the best free remote desktop software. It allows you to connect up to 10 computers, and comes with a number of features that you’d expect to find in paid-for remote desktop software. Remote Utilities comes in two parts; the Host software, which is installed on the PC you want to control, and the Viewer software, which you install on the computer you want to use to control the remote PC. You can also run the Viewer software without installing it, and there’s an iOS and Android version of the app for viewing the PC on a mobile device. The downside is that it only works on Windows PCs, so if you use a Mac, you’re out of luck.
The best remote desktop software for power users
Price: £299.99 a year for individuals
Cloud storage and LastPass Premium included
Could be overkill for many users
LogMeIn is another big name in remote desktop software, and it’s particularly popular with large companies that need a robust and powerful remote desktop platform. Because it’s mainly aimed at enterprise users, it comes with a suite of useful tools that can help you manage the application across a large number of users and devices. It also means that this is an expensive package, so it won’t be for everyone. There’s some nice added bonuses though, such as 1TB of cloud storage and LastPass Premium subscriptions thrown in.
A quick and easy way to control remote PCs through Chrome
Quick to install
Easy to use
Needs Chrome to work
If you want a quick, easy and free remote desktop software, then Chrome Remote Desktop is an excellent choice. It can be quickly installed as an extension for the Chrome web browser. Users can create a PIN to allow other PCs to log in, though you will need a Google account. It’s very easy to use, and best of all it’s free, so you can give it a try to see if it’s right for you. The downsides is that it has limited features – even compared to other free remote desktop software – and you need to have the Chrome web browser installed.
Useful remote desktop software for businesses and individuals
Price: $199.99 per user. $3,499.99 site licence
Good range of features
Easy to use
Sometimes a bit slow
Remote Desktop Manager is a great tool for small and medium size businesses that want a secure and stable service for remotely controlling PCs. It comes with a good selection of tools and features in one package, and it’s pretty easy to set up and use. If you have a larger company, then there’s an option to buy a site licence to cover all your PCs. There’s also a limited free edition for individual users, or to check it out before you buy.