|join.me and LogMeIn: Two Good Ways to Get (or Give) Remote Assistance| The Magical Possibilities of Remote Assistance and Remote Access
Have you ever wanted:
- To show someone else a document or a web site on your computer "live" when they can't be there to see it in person? What if you could call them by phone, use the internet to connect your two computers, and then point at that paragraph or photo on your screen with your mouse cursor as you say, "Do you see this on page 4?"
- To have someone show you something on their computer in a similar way? Collaborate by phone with a business partner who's editing that new brochure and watch his changes occur live on your screen? "Meet" by phone with your advisor who can show you the proposed plan and revise it while you're talking?
- To help someone else with a computer question, but you can't be there in person? Help Dad across town edit a recipe in Word? Help your client in London place that order on the web site using her own computer?
- To "reach" into your own computer back at your home or office when you're away so you can access your own email program and documents and keep it all in one central, familiar place, not "in the cloud" or copied to multiple computers? Use a colleague's laptop at a conference to get access to that document back home on your computer that you forgot to bring?
- To leave your computer on for a trusted computer person to connect to it remotely and perform maintenance or other tasks when you're not around? To leave it on similarly for your bookkeeper to connect remotely and update your books, saving them the travel time and saving you the effort of sending your QuickBooks file back and forth?
Yes, you can use email or Dropbox to do something similar along some of these lines, but those techniques, while useful, can be time-consuming, awkward, and insecure. All of these things (and more!) can be accomplished "live" while talking by phone with the other person, with each of you in front of your respective computers using remote assistance or remote access technology over the internet, sometime also called "screen sharing" or "online meetings." Host vs. Client
Here's some terminology to help you keep straight the roles of each computer and person:
- Host (or presenter): The computer granting the access to be viewed (and possibly controlled)
- Client (or viewer): The computer (or other device) being used to connect to and access the host
This means that:
- If I'm using my computer to connect to yours (with your permission) to see what's going on and help you, then my computer is the client and yours is the host.
- If I'm at my Uncle Joe's house using his computer, and I want to connect to my computer back at my home or office, then Uncle Joe's computer is the client and mine is the host.
So, here are descriptions of the two remote-help services with which I have the most experience. join.me: Quick, simple, informal remote assistance
Whether you want to give remote access into your computer to someone else, or get access into their computer using yours, "join.me" is quick and simple to set up.
Step 1: Prepare the host computer for a remote session
- On the host computer, open your web browser and go to http://join.me (the "www." prefix is optional).
- Click the orange "start meeting" or "share" icon to download the join.me software onto your computer and install it. You'll probably have to respond to some security prompts.
- A small join.me window will appear. Click the orange "share" icon to make your computer a host.
- Close any offers to start a free trial of "join.me pro" or any "tips on using join.me".
- The little join.me orange and black toolbar will appear at the top center of your screen showing the 9-digit secret code for this meeting.
- Close the larger join.me web site you opened earlier.
- Call your partner and read the 9-digit secret code to them over the phone.
Step 2: Start the remote session on the client computer and connect to the host
- On the client computer, open your web browser and go to http://join.me (the "www." prefix is optional).
- Click the green "join meeting" icon to download the join.me software onto your computer and install it. You'll probably have to respond to some security prompts.
- A small join.me window will appear. Type the 9-digit secret code into the "join" box and click the green "join" icon to contact the host computer and connect as a client.
- The little join.me green and black toolbar will appear at the top center of your screen showing the 9-digit secret code for this meeting, and a larger window showing the host computer's live screen will appear below.
That's it! You and your partner are now connected in an online meeting, and anything done on the host computer is immediately visible to the client. Initially the client can only view the host's screen, but with a couple of clicks the host can grant shared mouse and keyboard control to the client. Later on when you're done, you and your partner simply close your respective join.me windows. That closes the connection, ending the meeting, and the connection cannot be reestablished without starting the (pretty simple) process over again. At the end of your session, you also will have the option to keep the join.me software on your computer so you don't have to revisit the web site for future sessions, or to discard it if this was a one-time or short-term situation. Pros and cons of join.me
- It works on Windows and Macintosh, so it doesn't matter what type of computer the other person is using.
- It's simple to download and get started in minutes.
- join.me free requires no accounts or passwords to set up.
- join.me uses 256-bit SSL encryption for reasonable security.
- If the join.me program isn't running on the host, no client can connect.
- If the join.me program is running on the host, a client can only connect if the host user has given them the 9-digit secret code, and that code expires when the session is closed.
- If the host has multiple monitors, join.me lets the client view them all.
- One host can have multiple clients, so the host can run a group meeting or presentation.
- The host controls whether the client can only view the screen, or can share mouse and keyboard control of their computer.
- You can try the premium features for free for 2 weeks.
- If either person's internet connection goes offline and then comes back, the session may have to be closed and reopened.
- If the host has granted shared control to the client, and during the session a Windows security warning ("User Account Control" or UAC) comes up on the host, the client probably won't see it. The host user can click "Yes," but even then the client's shared control may get "stuck." The only workaround is for the client to disconnect and reconnect.
- If the join.me toolbar gets in the way on the host computer, it can be moved or hidden (minimized). However, if the join.me toolbar gets in the way on the client computer, you can move it but you can't minimize it because that also minimizes the window showing the host computer's screen.
Additional things you should know about join.me info:
LogMeIn: A little more work to set up, more thorough and tenacious features
- If the host computer has to be restarted during a session, a user sitting at the host must start a new join.me session, tell the client the new 9-digit secret code, and the client must reconnect.
- join.me requires Adobe Flash Player to be installed and enabled.
- You get more features if you upgrade to a paid account.
- You don't have to give your email address or register unless you want to try or buy the premium features, which include remote sound, larger number of simultaneous clients, annotation (highlighting parts of the screen with "pen," "highlighter," and "laser pointer" on-screen tools), recording the session, and more.
From the same company as join.me, LogMeIn (pronounced like the phrase "log me in") is a more thorough remote access system which takes a few more minutes to set up but is more appropriate for longer-term use, where you might be giving or receiving help or collaborating with someone over multiple sessions, or you need a more stable connection than join.me can manage.
Setting up LogMeIn to connect two computers and then using it involves three steps:
Step 1: Create a free LogMeIn account
From any computer, open your web browser, go to http://www.logmein.com
and click "Try it free" (or "Log in" then "sign up") to create a free account (to "Access Computers Remotely") using your email address as your ID and a new
password that is different
from all of your existing passwords. (This password will be the 1st layer of protection controlling remote access to the host computer.) You'll receive an automated email message from LogMeIn. Open that email and click the link to verify your email address. (If you don't, after a few days you won't be able to use LogMeIn.)
Step 2: Install the LogMeIn host software
On the host computer, open your web browser, go to http://www.logmein.com
, and sign into your LogMeIn account. Then, on the Home page, click "Add Computer" to download the software onto your computer and install it. (You'll probably have to respond to some security prompts.) If your computer user account has a password, that will serve as the 2nd layer of protection for remote access. If you don't have a user password, you'll be asked to create a "Computer Access Code" for this purpose.
Once this software is installed, the host computer is ready for the client to connect anytime, as long as the host computer is on, not sleeping, and connected to the internet, and the LogMeIn host software is enabled.
Step 3: To use LogMeIn to start a remote session and connect to the host:
On the client computer, open your web browser, go to the http://www.logmein.com
web site, sign into your LogMeIn account, and click the icon that represents the host computer. If it's online, you'll be prompted for either the host computer's username and password, or its Computer Access Code. Then you'll connect to it, see its screen, and have shared control of its keyboard and mouse right away. Later on when you're done, the client user clicks to Disconnect and then signs out of the LogMeIn account. The host user doesn't have to do anything. Pros and cons of LogMeIn
- It works on Windows and Macintosh, so it doesn't matter what type of computer the other person is using.
- It uses 256-bit SSL encryption for reasonable security.
- Access to the host computer is protected by two passwords - your LogMeIn account password and your user password (or your "Computer Access Code" if there is no user password), so whoever will remotely access it must know both of them. Since that person can connect whenever they want with full access to the host computer, only give these passwords to someone you trust.
- If the person trying to connect fails to enter the correct passwords, after a few tries that person gets locked out and you receive an email notification of this failure.
- For extra security the LogMeIn host software can be "switched off," preventing any remote access until it is "switched on" again.
- If the host has multiple monitors, LogMeIn lets the client view them all.
- You can try the LogMeIn Pro premium features for free for 2 weeks.
- If a Windows security warning ("User Account Control" or UAC) comes up on the host during the session, the client can see it and handle it with no problem.
- If either person's internet connection goes offline and then comes back, LogMeIn usually stays connected if the interruption was short.
- You can help multiple people either by adding multiple host computers to your LogMeIn account, or by creating separate LogMeIn accounts for each person.
- It can take 10 to 15 minutes to set up.
- LogMeIn is not designed for meetings or multiple clients. If a second client connects to the host, the first client gets disconnected.
Additional things you should know about LogMeIn:
Can I use an iPhone, iPad, Android, etc. as a client?
- If the client need to restart the host computer, since the LogMeIn host software runs each time the host starts up, the client can reconnect without any help from the user on the host computer.
- Both host and client computers have to be powered on, not Sleeping or Hibernating, and have working internet connections.
- This means that if you want to connect to an unattended host (i.e., a "leave the computer on for me to work on it later" scenario, when there is no one nearby to make sure it's on), you should make sure it is powered on and not set to Sleep or Hibernate. Also, if the host is a laptop computer, it's a good idea to plug in its power cable to avoid running its battery down.
- The user account on the host computer you use to connect must be an Administrator.
- You get more features if you upgrade to a paid account, which include remote sound, built-in file transfer, remote printing, and more.
Both join.me and LogMeIn supply Apps that let you use your mobile device as a client to view or control a host computer. At the moment the iPhone and iPad Apps are free, but the Android App costs money. While this technology is amazing, it's also a bit awkward to control a mouse-oriented computer using a touchscreen device. Can I use an iPhone, iPad, Android, etc. as a host?
At the moment, join.me only supports "presenting a file" from an iPad, and only with a pro subscription (free trial or paid). Look for "iPad" in their knowledgebase.
LogMeIn Free and Pro have no support for using a mobile device as the host. (A separate, higher-end product called LogMeIn Rescue, designed for professional IT companies, provides limited support for iPhones, iPads, Androids and more, starting at a little under $2,000 per year.)
Thus neither service will let you help someone with their smartphone or tablet in the same way as you can help them with their computer. Are there other choices for remote access?
There are a number of competitors in the remote access market. Here's a short list of the ones I've used:
- mikogo (http://www.mikogo.com): Similar to join.me
- GoToMyPC (http://www.GoToMyPC.com): Similar to LogMeIn
- TeamViewer (http://www.TeamViewer.com): Similar to LogMeIn, and their new QuickSupport Apps add limited support for iPhone, iPad, and Android as host devices. This lets someone using a mobile device get a limited level of help from someone else sitting at a Windows or Macintosh client computer. At the moment, with the user's permission, the helper can get screenshots, settings, and diagnostic information from the device, but not a "live" image of the screen nor live control.
Where to go from here
- join.me is a good choice to provide light-duty, short-term remote help between two computer users, or to arrange an "online meeting."
- LogMeIn is a good choice when the person to be helped has a longer-term computer need, or the remote work is more involved. It only connects 2 computers, and it's not appropriate for casual meetings. Since it gives complete access to the host computer anytime, it's also really important to choose strong passwords, keep them in a safe place, and only give them to people you trust.
- I also use LogMeIn to remotely access my own computers when I'm on the road, and I like to show clients how to do this if it seems like a better alternative than copying their data to multiple computers, or struggling to access their email from more than one device, especially with an email service that does not support IMAP.
|Kadansky Consulting, Inc. Celebrates 15 Years in Business|
I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to my success, learning, and joy since I started this business in September of 1998. I am grateful to my clients, colleagues, and friends for their ongoing partnership and support. Every day, every session, every project is another fun opportunity for me to help a wide range of people, and enjoy the new ideas that grow out of that natural teamwork and collaboration.
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