How to access your computer from anywhere
August 09, 2010
How long can you go without your computer? One day? One week? Any longer than that and I'd go nuts. Much of my life is connected to my computer - my genealogy, email, finances, pictures, and the list goes on.
This past month I vacationed and worked in my home state of Oregon. My Arizona family woke up each summer morning to temperatures comparable to our Arizona winter-time temps (50s and 60s). We visited the beach, the forests, and lakes. I spoke at genealogy seminars in Eugene and Tualatin. Vacation and genealogy - can't get much better than that!
Even though I left my computer at home, I still had 24/7 access to it. Now that I'm home, I still don't have physical access to it because I still can't get out of bed (I'm recovering from minor surgery which I had the day after I returned. Not a great way to end a vacation...).
Regardless of where I am, if I have access to an Internet-connected computer (like the laptop I'm using in bed right now), I can always have access to my personal computer thanks to technology like Gbridge (free) or GotoMyPC (fee). Software like this lets you remotely connect to your computer and use it as if you were actually there. In other words, you can connect to your home computer (as long as it is turned on and connected to the Internet) and do anything with it from the remote computer.
I've personally tried out two such services, but would love to hear from you on what works and what doesn't. Gbridge is free. Learn more about it here. GoToMyPC has a monthly fee. Learn more about it here. Windows 7 has built-in software called "Remote Desktop Connection" found at Start > Accessories.
What have you tried, what did you like/not like, and why did you use it?
I have been using a program called Remobo (http://www.remobo.com) with success. I have not used it long-distance, but I assume it would work as well as when I access my desktop downstairs while using my laptop upstairs.
Posted by: Michael | August 10, 2010 at 08:02 AM
I use LogMeIn, there is a free version and there are more advanced paid versions.
Posted by: Leo Duflou | August 10, 2010 at 09:11 AM
I also use Logmein - for my work functions, and for my personal access to home computer. Great product and the free version is very functional.
Posted by: Brenda | August 11, 2010 at 05:55 PM
Will this work between two computers when one is running XP and the other Windows 7 ?
Posted by: Arnie | August 12, 2010 at 11:52 PM
Arnie. Yes, I suspect that it does. GoToMyPC.com does at least. Even if you're on a Mac, you can access your Windows computer.
Posted by: Geoff Rasmussen | August 13, 2010 at 10:13 AM
Posted by: Arnie | August 13, 2010 at 11:06 PM
I use LogMeIn. As the family computer expert, it has saved me a lot of road time and phone time. Whenever I help a family member install a computer, I make sure LogMeIn is installed.
Posted by: Tom Barton | August 16, 2010 at 12:58 PM
I use LogMeIn -for my work and for personal. I use a combination of free and paid versions and am very satisfied with it. It works just fine between PCs running different Windows versions (I have Win 7, Vista, and XP Pro).
Posted by: Dianne A | August 16, 2010 at 01:23 PM
I use gbride I have always been able to access my computer from a computer with gbrige on. I would like something similar to gbridge on my android phone.
Posted by: Sven-Ove | August 16, 2010 at 01:44 PM
I see several others also use LogMeIn. I use the Free version all the time between XPs and a Mac and other PCs and it works great. The only thing you have to remember when controlling a Mac from a PC is to use the short cut keys of "Ctrl" and Z,X,C,V that you have to use the "Windows" key when you are copying, pasting etc on a Mac. But it works perfectly.
The other nice feature is that you can disconnect from the remote machine and leave the tab running, and in one click you are back in control of the remote machine.
LogMeIn has never dump me or given me any problems for the 4 years I have used it and on a rating of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, I would rate it a 10.
I see the Gbridge free does not say a word about being cross platform.
Let me give you all a tip that you should use on any PC, it is to go to http://www.filehippo.com/updatechecker/ and down load their free update checker. It is the best free one I have ever seen, and use.
Dave. . .
Posted by: Dave | August 16, 2010 at 02:49 PM
I also use Log Me In and love it. I use the free version and it does everything I want.
Posted by: Don Schaffer | August 16, 2010 at 03:24 PM
I use Windows Home Server - it provides storage for all my files and backs up both laptops each night.
Remote access is easy to use and you can create a folder for each user.
The disadvantage is when mum comes to stay I have to switch drives and set it up as a computer with XP as you cannot use it as a computer and she does like to play Solitaire.
It just sits in the corner all day every day doing it's thing and I can access anytime via internet.
Posted by: Helen Castle | August 16, 2010 at 04:42 PM
I use the free service from NTRConnect.com. I can log into my work computer (which runs XP) from my Macbook or my Win 7 machine. It will not wake up your computer you are remoting into and you cannot download files from the computer you are remoting into, but I find it works great.
Posted by: Jenni | August 16, 2010 at 05:02 PM
Geoff....we loved having you in Oregon. Thanks for speaking at the Eugene, Or conference. Hope you recover quickly and are back on your feet soon.
Posted by: Pat Stainbrook | August 16, 2010 at 05:19 PM
This sounds great!
Can the actions I perform on the remote computer be viewed by a person sitting in front of it (when using programs (e.g. LogMeIn))??.
I would like to be able to demonstrate to a distant person what I am doing on their computer, so that they can learn and do it themselves next time. Thanks.
Posted by: JohnBarr | August 16, 2010 at 05:47 PM
John - yes, the person sitting in front of the computer would be able to see your actions. On the flip side, if you don't want people seeing what you're doing, I know that GoToMyPc has a feature that can block this. Maybe the others do too.
Posted by: Geoff Rasmussen | August 17, 2010 at 04:34 PM
I've used the Remote Desktop for several years. It has worked well for me.
Posted by: Jill K | August 19, 2010 at 07:51 AM
Like Don, I can use Windows Home Server for remote access. When I bought a new Vista PC in 2008 (soon to be upgraded to Win7 -already did my laptop) I wiped my old PC & installed the WHS software on that tower. 'Very easy process...and great to have our desktops & laptop backed up each night. It stores all our photos, music & big files, too... accessible from any PC we have, so they don't slow down our PC's.
The other bonus to WHS is the option for Remote Access -of the Server and of your PC. You do need both the Server and home PC turned on -and on the internet. Check out this option at: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/connect.mspx
Posted by: Kay | August 19, 2010 at 06:00 PM
Another option in addition to the ones discussed above is Proxy Networks. This remote access software works with the major operating systems and is highly stable and easy to use. My employees at my small business (In Grants Pass!) picked it up in no time.
Posted by: Christopher Dang | August 24, 2010 at 03:40 PM