With the rise of tablets, home offices and similar trends, it’s no surprise that remote access options have also grown more popular.
Remote access apps and remote desktops allow you to use another computer or a mobile tablet to reach across the Internet and operate your desktop PC, no matter where it is. This makes it easy to check information, edit documents, or make quick changes in complex software even at a distance.
7 Best Free Remote Access Options
Remote desktop services are currently in a stage of transition, and along with that we have some growing pains. Of the favorite free services, LogMeIn transitioned to a payment model in early 2014 and forced many casual users to switch services. Other popular options like CrossLoop have been disbanded because of merger and acquisition activity.
Chrome Remote Desktop
This is a Chrome extension (Chrome is Google’s browser brand) that allows people to access other computers directly from the Chrome browser. It is one of the most popular free remote login options for accessing other computers because Google products are generally dependable, but there are limitations.
If you don’t use the Chrome browser or have a Chromebook, it will not work for you. It also does not offer advanced options like video capture.
Microsoft Remote Desktop
If you have Microsoft products, then you may want to look into the Remote Desktop app that Microsoft has released for its operating systems. It works across all modern Windows devices, including Windows phones and tablets, so if you are a Microsoft fan this is one of the best options.
A slightly more limited option is available for your Android or iPhone, too. However, installation is a little tricky and requires extra information like your IP number.
If you are a personal user who just wants an easy way to access a home desktop on the go, look into Mikogo. The service lets you create a free account and download its remote access software for Windows, Mac and Linux.
You then send a link to the second computer and download the counterpart software, which allows you to create remote access “sessions” through the Mikogo site. Mikogo is very user-friendly, but no mobile device support is offered.
NoMachine is a newer entry for remote access options, designed for modern users, like watching media remotely or capturing video of your remote work for training or record purposes. Currently the company has software for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, and is working on apps for mobile devices like Android and iOS.
There’s no need to download separate client and server software either, so installation is also pretty easy. However, if you need a tablet option, you should pick another option and wait for NoMachine to pick up steam.
If you primarily want to access your desktop through a mobile device like an iPad or Android-based tablet, then PocketCloud may be your best bet. While other software focuses on connecting desktop to desktop, PocketCloud is instead optimized for iOS and Android tablets.
It offers multiple connection capabilities and custom keyboard options. However, PocketCloud, in its free version, is limited to only one desktop computer, so you will not be able to share it with the family or multiple work computers.
RealVNC is one of the traditional remote access options, so it has more stable, dependable features than many of the other options. However, this can also be confusing for beginners, since there are separate products for Android, iOS, PCs, Chrome, etc.
The VNC option allows you to connect two desktop computers, and while the free version is very limited, you still get all the platform remote control you want. Payment models allow you to opt for file transfer, more security, and similar features.
RealVNC requires a proprietary viewer to work, so downloads are a little more specialized and the learning curve may be higher than other software.
TeamViewer is probably the most professional piece of software on the list, and is often used among flexible businesses that need constant contact between certain desktop computers. However, the private version is still free to use, and contains options for online meetings, too. TeamViewer is a great choice for the home office or you may want to upgrade to a more work-oriented version in the future.
We hope these remote access options keep you connected with your files from wherever you are — which helps you live the connected life, simplified!