I had a call from my father earlier today, he was having email problems on his PC. Rather than drive out there, or fight with instructions over the phone, I decided to look into remote control solutions. I can across GoToAssist Express which is currently free since it’s in beta. It’s from Citrix and I’ve been a fan of a couple of there other products (GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC) so I decided to check it out.
Registration was simple, they only ask for a name and email address. The email includes a confirmation link which must be clicked but then I was ready to install the software. So even though it’s beta there’s no sign-up delay.
To run GoToAssist Express as a console session the computer needs to be running Windows XP or Windows Vista. I ran the console with Windows XP under VMware from my Mac. Client PCs (the ones being remoted into) can be Windows XP, Windows Vista or Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. I connected into a PC with Windows XP SP3.
Setting up the remote session was easy. When I start up the console I was prompted with the session information:
The url can be emailed with the email button or the URL can be copied to the clipboard and sent another way. In this case I pasted into my web email (since there’s no email configured for me on Vista) and sent it to a second address for my father. (If he didn’t have the second email he could have entered the code on a website.) The link downloaded and installed the software then connected his PC into the session. He needed to approve the connection before it would happen.
Responsiveness was good. There was a bit of a trailing mouse issue which was a bit annoying but this was resolved by turning off “show remote cursor” in the preferences. I didn’t use any of the more advanced features such as file transfers or reboots.
One of the features I liked was that the default behavior was to require the person on the remore end to confirm the connection and the software would be unloaded when the session was done. There is the option to set up unattended support but I don’t really like to leave software running all the time (that PC already has enough) and I really don’t want to leave remote control software running all the time.
It seems like the beta is ending soon so it will soon begin to cost for use. Citrix says beta testors will get a discount. The service won’t be cheap. Pricing is $60/mth, $660/yr or $10 for a 24-hr day pass. The day passes don’t include the ability to set up unattended support.
All-in-all I was happy with the service. It was easy to setup on my end and easy to explain to my father how to start it up on his end, no walking him through dialogs and settings.
LogMeIn is a competitor with a wide range of remote control products including a free version that provides basic remote control. The reason I didn’t try it is I would need to install the software on my father’s PC – from their instructions: “You can only download LogMeIn Free and Pro onto a computer at which you are sitting.”. With GoToAssist Express all my father had to do was click a link.