Fun fact, according to Google Analytics most of you work with computers.
Even if you don’t work in an official IT support capacity, you’re probably the on-call support for family and less tech savvy friends.
TeamViewer – Internet Scum
Once upon a time TeamViewer was the go-to tool for remote support. You needed to help someone in another location and all you had to do was get the remote user to download the tool, enter a few numbers and automagically you can now see their screen and control their system.
TeamViewer has since made some very questionable business decisions and it is now almost unusable as a free or paid solution. We could detail the reasons the company has fallen from grace, but that would just be an unhelpful rant. Summary: is shit now.
So, TeamViewer is out, what now?
The AnyDesk Alternative
A lot of folks are singing the praises of AnyDesk, which is actually the creation of some former TeamViewer programmers (who funnily enough left TeamViewer because they weren’t a fan of the company’s business practices). AnyDesk is a remote support tool that works in a similar fashion. End user downloads the client and reads out some numbers and a remote connection can be established.
But AnyDesk has its own problems, most notably it gets hung up on permissions, often failing to give the remote accessor the ability to interact with the session. It also technically isn’t free and while you can use it for personal use, TeamViewer started this way too, and is now pretty much unusable if you are not on their extremely expensive monthly subscription plan. Moving everything across to AnyDesk might bite you in the future if they too tighten their “personal use” rules.
That’s One Fabulous Duck
There is a product called Ultraviewer by the awesomely named company DucFabulous that looks really promising. It is a lot like TeamViewer used to be (in fact, it looks suspiciously like an older version of TeamViewer), and doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the current versions of AnyDesk and TeamViewer, but it works 100% of the time, and is completely free for personal and business use.
The most recent updates to the product have introduced features such as unattended access and file transfer, but at its heart it is just a good simple, very small and reliable remote access product.
There are a couple of catches though. Ultraviewer only works on Windows, so no Linux or MacOS support for the moment, and it occasionally gets picked up by 3rd party security products as malware (but you can ignore that). Most problematic is that it does require installation on the remote computer, so if the user doesn’t have permissions to install a program then this isn’t going to be an option. There is a zipped version of the Ultraviewer website that doesn’t need to be installed, but currently this is marked as unsupported.
Security is Security is Security
Whether you use TeamViewer, AnyDesk, UltraViewer or any of the hundreds of other remote support tools on the market, these products are not long-term remote access solutions. None of the products have a particularly great security track record. UltraViewer is untested at the current time, but we can assume it isn’t immune to the same problems, and all of the above can be abused by scammers and hackers to gain access to a machine. Ultimately, if you are trusting unmitigated remote access to your PC to a closed-source third party server, then you ultimately have no control over that access.
If you are a business that needs remote access to files you should be using a secure VPN. If you need to log into remote servers then yes you will need to use ssh, VNC or RDP, but these too should only be accessible via VPN. There are plenty of software vendors that will want you to setup unattended TeamViewer access for them so that they can jump in whenever they need to for maintenance and support, but these vendors do not have your best interests in mind, avoid this.
Ultraviewer isn’t the best, but it is the best we’ve got for now.
Do you know a better product? We are keen to investigate and post a follow up article if we have missed something.
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