Remote desktop software gives businesses tools to use their company computers and resources from geographically distributed locations. The flexibility to log into a remote device allows teams to work from home, receive more immediate technical support, and share data between computers. Remote access solutions increased in popularity in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic‘s height, and they continue to be a useful tool for businesses that want to provide more flexible work environments for their employees in different locations.
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Best Remote Desktop Software Providers
TeamViewer is a remote support and enterprise access solution for larger businesses. TeamViewer supports Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. Within the software, users can chat with each other and transfer files from the remotely accessed computer to their physically available device and vice versa.
TeamViewer offers unattended access, which allows team members to access a desktop remotely even if no one is in the office to receive the connection request. To prevent unauthorized access to computers and applications, TeamViewer administrators can configure allowlists and blocklists and set two-factor authentication (2FA).
TeamViewer also offers remote and network device monitoring for employee devices and other company assets like routers. IT users have access to a monitoring dashboard to view all their IT assets. From the dashboard, they can patch outdated software and remotely deploy applications to company devices. For companies that are looking for software that serves desktop access and remote monitoring and management (RMM) needs, TeamViewer offers features for IT teams to control all registered company devices.
Although businesses of all sizes use TeamViewer, multiple customer reviews mention the solution’s high license prices and the lack of suitable plans for small businesses or startups. TeamViewer may not be the best fit for businesses that have a limited budget for remote desktop software.
Also note that TeamViewer limits the number of files that can be transferred at one time and struggles to transfer large files. Consider TeamViewer for an inexperienced team; reviewers said it was easy to learn and use. Because TeamViewer supports many types of devices, it’s a good choice for larger businesses that use multiple operating systems and can afford a more extensive solution.
Zoho Assist is a remote desktop solution for IT help desks and enterprise remote computer access. Zoho Assist users are able to transfer files to client devices and use a built-in chat window during the remote session. They also have video conferencing and voice call options for users that are less comfortable with live chat.
Zoho allows users to design their Zoho Assist portal per their enterprise’s branding, including company logo and company-specific email templates. If a small or medium-sized business wants to create a branded help desk portal for their clients or employees, Zoho offers that customizability.
Zoho Assist integrates with Google Workspace. For businesses that use the Google suite, Assist’s remote access capabilities allow IT teams to solve problems within applications like Meet. Additionally, Assist integrates with help desk solutions like Zendesk and ServiceNow. These integrations allow customer service teams to launch a support session from within an incident dashboard or support ticket.
Organizations that already use Zoho products should consider Zoho Assist, especially because it integrates with tools like Zoho CRM and Zoho Bookings. For businesses that need to purchase multiple business solutions and are considering several options from Zoho, the Zoho One platform includes all of Zoho’s software and might be a good choice.
Remote Support package pricing starts at $10/month with the Standard plan, which allows one technician. The Standard Unattended Access plan is also $10/month, supports up to 25 unattended computers, and has an unlimited number of technicians. Zoho Assist also offers a free plan for one technician and five unattended computers. Consider Zoho for startups and other businesses that aren’t ready to scale to a paid plan yet.
Learn more about Google Workspace with the Google Workspace Cheat Sheet, a guide to Google’s business application suite from TechRepublic.
Splashtop offers remote business computer access as well as a remote support product for IT teams and help desks. It also offers a remote support and endpoint management solution for managed service providers (MSPs). Splashtop specifically differentiates itself with remote printing and file transfer capabilities for geographically distributed teams.
Splashtop administrators can invite new users to the software and set their roles and access permissions. They can also allow device access to only designated computers. If a business wants to make its remote sessions available to other team members to show them how to solve common computer problems, they can make and store recordings of remote sessions. This is a useful tool for IT teams that want to train their new technicians through video tutorials.
Splashtop’s Pro plan supports Remote Wake for computers that support Wake-on-LAN and are connected through a LAN cable. Splashtop also allows two users to remotely access a computer at the same time; note that this requires two separate user licenses.
Splashtop receives glowing customer reviews for being an easy-to-use, reliable solution overall. Many users compare its solutions to other, more expensive remote desktop software, saying that Splashtop provides similar features for a fraction of the price. Customers also spoke highly of Splashtop’s technical support team. Splashtop is a good solution for any enterprise but especially those that want to keep costs down while still having a high-value, full-featured tool.
The Business Access Solo plan is billed annually at $60 and is available for individual users. The Business Access Pro plan is billed annually at $99, or $8.25/month/user, and is available for up to 10 computers per user. Splashtop also has licenses for larger teams, as well as enterprise pricing options, which have features like Active Directory integration and single sign-on (SSO). Note that monthly billing is not available for Splashtop’s Business Access plans.
RemotePC is a remote access solution for businesses of varying sizes. RemotePC supports Windows, Mac, and Linux machines. It allows file and folder transfers, including ones from mapped drives, between computers. Users can also drag and drop files to and from remote computers and access remote printing.
With RemotePC, users are able to chat between computers and remotely access Android phones and Chromebooks. RemotePC also has a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connector that doesn’t require teams to configure a VPN or Microsoft RD Gateway. Organizations that want to use RDP alongside a remote desktop tool should consider RemotePC for their business needs.
RemotePC allows multiple users to access a single remote computer concurrently. This feature is useful if two IT technicians need to address a more complex issue or if a team wants to work on a project from the same office desktop. RemotePC provides cloud backup options for endpoint devices, allowing users to remotely back up all computers and recover data through a central management console.
RemotePC customers had high compliments for the software’s easy set up and overall ease of use; it’s a good option for both experienced and inexperienced teams. Customers also spoke about the comparably low prices; businesses that can’t afford one of the more expensive remote access solutions can still access many strong features through RemotePC’s reasonable pricing structure. To learn about pricing for its four business plans, contact RemotePC’s sales team for more information.
ConnectWise Control is designed for multiple remote access use cases, offering solutions to both small businesses and full service help desk teams.
One version of ConnectWise Control is ConnectWise Control Access, which is designed for individual users, remote employees, and IT departments. Access allows IT managers to deploy software agents in bulk to groups of devices across a company network. Technicians can also use backstage mode to remotely access a machine while keeping the current user logged in.
ConnectWise Control Support is designed for service and help desk teams. Control Support can connect to multiple Active Directory instances and to LDAP sources so teams can manage multiple user groups for internal employees, partners, and customers. Control Support supports Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) as an authentication protocol for single sign-on access.
Through the Support product, service desk teams allow clients to selectively fill out surveys to provide their feedback. For teams that want to integrate their other business software with ConnectWise, all application extensions are QA’d and reviewed before becoming part of the ConnectWise extension marketplace.
ConnectWise Control offers a documentation center with articles and videos to help users better understand its features. It also has an Extension Developer for teams that want to design and publish their own software extensions; consider ConnectWise for dev teams that want to customize third-party extensions. Multiple ConnectWise reviewers found the software easy to use, so it’s an appropriate solution for inexperienced IT teams or businesses that are new to remote desktop software in general.
Under an annual billing system, ConnectWise Control has three plans:
- One: $24/month, limited to a single user
- Standard: $39/month per technician
- Premium: $49/month per technician
What Is Remote Desktop Software?
Remote desktop software allows users to access on-premises computers from a separate device in a different location. It’s useful for remote teams, especially ones that use both travel laptops and in-office computers and need the ability to access their remote computers at any time. Often, remote desktop software makes other local computing resources, such as data storage, available to remote users.
Some remote desktop solutions allow administrators to configure specific application access by individual user. Application controls give each person access only to certain software and block access to the rest. This additional security benefit improves businesses’ regulatory compliance posture. With remote desktop software, they’re better able to report application access and proactively set necessary restrictions, which is required by some standards like GDPR.
Benefits of Remote Desktop Software
The following benefits help businesses maintain operations and give employees greater flexibility while working:
Last-minute access to company resources
In case of emergency, employees can change their work location at a moment’s notice. Remote desktop software makes it possible for users to work from home on approved devices and networks, accessing the tools necessary to complete their work. This also helps companies continue to serve their customers without letting business traffic drop.
Streamlined program installation for all company devices
IT teams can install software, like security patches or mobile device management (MDM) agents, on all approved devices, including computers in other regions of the world. This eases the manual burden on IT professionals and allows them to keep company resources safer, whether the device is in a company office or thousands of miles away.
Limiting application access by individual user is an additional security benefit. This depends on the remote desktop solution, too—some offer this capability and some may not. Access control is a critical component in an enterprise’s security strategy. Employees should only receive remote access to applications that they absolutely need to do their job. Restricting access to critical data decreases opportunities for data loss or theft and helps enterprises comply with regulatory standards that require them to track all data access.
Learn more about the security of remote access applications and attacks on them: Addressing Remote Desktop Attacks and Security | eSecurity Planet
Improved employee experience
Employees who aren’t required to go into the office to complete tasks or use a certain application have more flexibility. Remote desktop solutions support this remote work flexibility and make it possible for employees to save money on practical costs like gas. Fully or partially remote work is a significant benefit for employees; according to 2022 surveys by TechRepublic, 87.5 percent prioritize it enough to leave a current job for that benefit. Remote desktop solutions make working from home much more practical for businesses and give them an additional recruitment and retention edge when it comes to employees.
Technical support available from any location
Remote desktop software allows IT teams to provide technical support for their entire enterprise, including remote team members. It eases companies’ transitions to working from home by giving them a quick way to set up IT problem solving. Aside from fixing technical issues, IT teams can also send their employees documents and videos with file transfer features that are available in this kind of software.
Remote desktop solutions often include features like live chat or file sharing. These tools increase the ways teams can work together while using remote access tools. Users can more quickly make information available to team members and communicate further if something goes wrong or doesn’t make sense during a remote sharing session.
Want to learn more about collaboration software? Read Best digital collaboration tools at TechRepublic next.
How to Choose a Remote Desktop Solution
Device and OS support
When choosing remote desktop solutions, it’s important to find options that support the specific devices and operating systems a company uses for business operations. If an organization solely uses Windows computers, it can safely stick to software that only supports Windows.
But if a workforce uses multiple hardware brands or plans to expand its technology platforms in the coming years, they should choose a remote desktop solution that works with an array of business technologies.
Businesses should consider every device their teams use for work. If the sales team uses mobile phones during conferences or travel, look for a solution that supports Android and iOS. Those phones may need technical support at some point, too.
Future company growth
Prospective buyers of remote desktop solutions should consider their team’s budget and needs when buying a remote access tool, but they should especially think about how the company may grow in the following years. If a business is likely to scale significantly in a short period of time, buyers should choose a solution that will support the company’s needs in the future.
Buyers in this position should review remote desktop software with the following criteria:
- How many devices require remote access?
- What are non-negotiable IT support features?
- How well can this solution scale to an enterprise plan?
Finally, choose remote desktop software that is rich with security controls, like authentication features and strong encryption. Remote desktop setups can be incredibly vulnerable to ransomware attacks and other cybercrimes; attackers recognized this vulnerability and took advantage of the rapid shift to remote workspaces during the Covid-19 pandemic.
When selecting a remote desktop solution, confirm that the provider offers security features as well as the ability to customize controls based on a business’s unique compliance and other requirements.
Is your small business looking for remote access software? Read Small Business Computing’s Best Remote Access Software for Small Business guide for tools specifically suited to SMBs.