How do I remotely access another computer?

Starting your first remote desktop session is very simple. If you already have a software tool in mind that you'd like to use, it's always best to take a free trial first to test the features and see whether the software meets your needs.

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1. Download the required software

To start with, you should download and install the remote desktop software on to the computer you want to connect to (usually called a server or client). Then, download it on the computer or mobile device that you want to connect from (usually called a viewer).

2. Check platform compatibility

It’s important to always first check whether the type of server or viewer supports multiple platforms, such as Windows, Mac, Linux or Raspberry Pi.

3. Open the app on your viewer

Open the app on the device you are connecting from. This could be any devices like a desktop or PC, a Mac computer, an Android phone, an iPhone or a tablet.

4. Connect to the remote device

Now you can instantly connect to the remote device you want to connect to. You can connect to either attended or unattended devices, as long as the remote computer isn’t shut down. Connecting to “attended” devices means someone has to be in front of the device you’d like to control to accept your prompts, while “unattended” means that there is no need for somebody to be present.

Read our 'getting started' guides on using VNC Connect:

Watch: how to get started with your first remote access screen sharing session

Security considerations for remote access software

Security is a critical requirement for any software, but even more so for programs that enable remote connections to other devices. Many critical industries rely on remote solutions - from managing satellites and sealed scientific laboratories to aircraft-carriers and even submarines.

Multi-factor authentication, 256-bit AES encryption, password protection and granular access control are critical and standard security requirements for remote desktop solutions, in addition to cloud vs direct connectivity considerations.

Free white paper download: Remote Access Security Checklist.

Read: all you need to know about remote desktop encryption.

Benefits of remote access for businesses

There are numerous benefits for both individuals and businesses when it comes to remote connectivity solutions. 

  • Save time and money
    • For the IT team– Improves first call resolution and reduces the need for on-site service.
    • For the business– Facilitates greater team collaboration and resource sharing while reducing travel time. 
  • Improves efficiency
    • For the IT team– Maximizes system performance and uptime.
    • For the business– Supports flexible and remote working policies and enables business continuity.
  • It reduces security risks
    • For the IT team – Mitigates security risks of data access for remote workers and staff using BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
    • Across the business– Helps to meet security best practice and compliance objectives.  
Read more about the business benefits of remote access.

Essential features of remote desktop software

The most critical user requirements for remote screen-sharing software are usually:

  • speed, performance and responsiveness;
  • ease of use;
  • security;
  • attended and unattended access options;
  • the ability to connect via the Cloud or via a direct connection; and
  • whether or not the software needs to be pre-installed or not (which is important for certain use cases).

Use cases and examples of screen sharing 

Remote control software can have many different applications. IT helpdesk and tech support teams often use remote software tools to connect remotely to an office computer to see the screen, in order to resolve a technical issue, and/or to control the remote device.

Similarly, remote office workers and students can securely access, transfer, and print files, connect to a desktop, phone, tablet, or application from any location and without the need for a VPN connection.

Choosing the best solution

When considering remote access technology you should start by defining the use cases necessary to meet your business requirements. Will it be used to enable remote working? Will it be only the IT team remotely accessing system resources, or teams from other departments too? You may want to ensure the solution you choose is able to support the maximum number of potential use cases in the future.

Education and remote support

VNC® Connect is widely used by educational institutions and charities - from supporting internal IT systems to helping visually impaired students in the classroom. Read more about how we support remote access in education.

Remote desktop solution providers

There are numerous remote access competitors on the market, offering various features and benefits. Visit our remote access competitor comparison page to view information about the commercial differences between the various offerings.

What is remote access?

Remote access is the act of establishing a connection from a device or computer in one location to view or control another device in a different location. Remote access software gives you the power to control your computers and equipment from anywhere with any device.

How does remote access work?

Remote access allows a user to connect to another computer in a different physical setting – either via the Internet (cloud connectivity) or via a direct network (a LAN, short for Local Area Network, or a WAN, short for Wide Area Network). 

The person using the remote viewer can do almost anything they could do were they sitting in front of the controlled computer. This includes application-specific tasks, accessing files and software, and running upgrades (provided they have adequate permissions).

If you are connecting via a direct connection, this process is different. Read more about the differences between cloud vs direct remote access connections.

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