Are there any free remote desktop access applications?
Remote Desktop is only available in certain versions of Microsoft Windows, so many people attempt to compensate by using a third-party application or service. There's no shortage of them to go around, but the specifications and implementations vary enormously.
One common set of replacements for Windows Remote Desktop is a protocol called VNC, or Virtual Network Computing. VNC was originally developed as a platform-independent solution, and it runs on Windows as well as Mac OS X, Linux and Solaris. VNC also comes in multiple incarnations for Windows. Two of the most useful are RealVNC and UltraVNC.
- RealVNC exists in both free and commercial versions. The free version is for individual private use and has a small subset of the available functionality. The commercial version is licensed for business use and has many advanced features, such as file transfers and printing support.
- UltraVNC is another variety of VNC that has chat and file-transfer abilities baked in. It's also free for both personal and corporate use. An optional mirror driver, installed on the system you're accessing, can be used to accelerate access.
Note that while these programs provide you with a mechanism for linking two Windows computers without using Remote Desktop, they don't provide the network infrastructure to do so. That's left up to you.
One way to get both the mechanism and the infrastructure is to use a third-party service, such as LogMeIn. Install the server application on the PC you want to reach, and it will use LogMeIn's central servers to allow you to access your desktop from any other PC in the world. No client program is needed, just a Web browser that can run Flash and Java. The free version of the service includes basic connectivity; the for-pay version adds utilities like file-transfer functions.
Do you have questions for our experts? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dig deeper on Windows mobile device management
Related Q&A from Serdar Yegulalp
This week, our expert answers the question of how to get DVD data off a disc, even if the user's PC doesn't have an optical drive.continue reading
This week, our expert answers a question on how to connect a phone or tablet to a USB drive with a micro-USB connector.continue reading
Open source and free suites such as LibreOffice and OpenOffice could save organizations money, but not effort in comparison with Microsoft Office.continue reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.