Remote support is a technology that allows an I.T support agents to control an end user’s PC from anywhere in the world, using the internet. Remote support is usually used by technical support companies, but is also used in schools and colleges to control and monitor student’s machines during lessons, to stop them wasting time during lessons, or visiting inappropriate websites. Remote support makes it easier for users, as a technical support agent is fixing their computer, and it makes the agent’s life easier because they do not have to explain something to an inexperienced user who does not really understand much of what they are saying. I am going to discuss three different remote support software programs, namely; Windows Remote Assistance, Real VNC and AB Tutor Control.
Windows Remote Assistance
Windows Remote Assistance is a software feature that is compatible with Windows XP and later (which means Vista, 7,8 and 10 at time of writing.). It allows you to control a PC remotely, using the internet.
Windows Remote Assistance is completely free; in fact, it comes pre-installed on all Windows PCs. This means that anybody has access to it, which makes it perfect for the school environment. This is better than the competitors, as the competitors both cost money. Another reason is that the ICT department will not need to install new software on to every computer a network, because it will already be pre-installed.
Easy to use
The software is remarkably easy to use. You can send a request to the end user via email attachment, as an .exe file. They then simply need to open up and run the program, which gives permission to the tech support agent to take over their computer. The end user can also send a request via email to the agent, and they will then take over the end user’s PC.
Susceptible to cyber-criminals
The fact that this software is free, and available to everyone who owns a Windows PC, means that cyber-criminals have an easier job of accessing an end user’s PC. Some scammers are out to gain access to sensitive information that a user has stored on their PC. This could be banking information, contact details or even scans of passports/driving licence. People are often phoned from places like Nigeria and India, and they are told that they are phoning on behalf of Microsoft or the user’s ISP, and they are tricked into giving these scammers access to their PC, and they can take money from them, by finding this sensitive information.
Only serves Windows
Unlike Real VNC, which I have discussed below, the Windows Remote Assistance only allows you to control Windows computers, whereas Real VNC allows the agent to take control of other operating
systems, such as Mac and Linux. This means that certain parts of the network could be excluded from remote support, due to their operating system.
Real VNC Remote Support
Real VNC is a professional remote support program that is used by large companies to help their customers with their technical issues.
Real VNC allows the technical support agent to take over control of the user’s PC. And they can play around with the user’s settings and controls a lot more than Windows Remote Support; this means that the end user barely needs to do anything, as they can just tell the technical support agent what they want done, and let the technical support agent do all the work.
Real VNC can be used for any popular operating system, namely Apple Mac, Windows, Linux and UNIX. They also are developing Android, iOS and Kindle use, so that technical support agents can take control of devices in the rapidly growing smartphone and tablet markets. This means that a technical support agent can use their Windows PC to control Macs and Linux machines, and vice versa.
Unlike Windows Remote Support, real VNC is not free, but they have a free version, which only allows remote control. They then have a personal version, which gives you more, but costs $30 (£18). There is also the option of an enterprise license, which gives you even more features, and this costs more for each computer that you want to add to the package, so there is no price estimate that I can give you, but it certainly isn’t cheap.
Difficult to use
Real VNC is quite a complicated piece of software. It can only really be used by skilled technical support agents who have been trained. This means that you may need to train some of the technical support staff within the school to use the software.
AB Tutor Control Remote Support
AB tutor control is used by teachers to keep an eye on what their students are doing on their school PC’s. With it they can monitor and control the computers.
As both computers are part of a secure network, the teacher can take total control of a student’s computer, as if it was their own computer. They can remotely control them, as well as locking, logging them off and writing messages. This means that it improves the student’s productivity, as the teacher can see what they are doing, so they can keep them on task.
Can Show the student’s their screen
If a teacher is in a classroom, they can show their screen on every PC in that room. This is useful for showing such things as videos and PowerPoint presentations. This helps save money because it stops the need for a projector at the front of the class, which can cost thousands of pounds. It also means that students cannot mess around on their computers whilst somebody is talking, as their computers have the teacher’s screen showed.
Like Real VNC, AB tutor control can be quite expensive. The pricing system is fairly complicated however.
It depends on the size of the school, and the amount of staff members using it and students that need to be monitored, but it certainly isn’t free. One licence for a staff member costs £175.
Not really fit for the job
The whole point of remote support is that you can control a different PC from a remote location, but tutor control is not really designed for that. The main reason for this software is as a monitoring tool, so that teachers can keep an eye on entire classrooms, rather than individual users, and it concentrates more on what a teacher would need, rather than what a technical support agent would need.
Based on the points that I have discussed previously, I think that the most appropriate software for a technical support agent to use, as part of the network, would be Real VNC. Despite the fact that it is expensive, I still think that it would be a smart investment.
One reason is because throughout the different parts of the network, there is different computer Operating Systems. For example, whilst most of the schools’ computers are Windows 7, some members, such as the art and graphics departments use Apple Mac computers, as they are optimised for programs like Photoshop, and if the technical support staff had Real VNC, they could use their Windows Computer in the Technical Support office to fix the Mac computer in the Art Rooms, and this would not be possible when using Windows Remote Assistance.
Another reason that Real VNC would be a more appropriate piece of software is that it can be used to transfer files. This means that the technical support agents can use it to transfer such things as videos and documents that are too big to be sent via an email attachment. It also can transfer entire folders, which email attachments cannot do.