In late January 2014, LogMeIn surprised some members of the IT community with news that they were discontinuing the free version of their remote access product with immediate effect.
This will have been a blow to some small MSPs who were using the product to provide remote support to their customers.
Obviously no MSP has the right to expect a free solution to everything, and with a theoretical maximum of ten remote connections, it would be hard to argue that LogMeIn’s free version was ever intended to be a real solution for a professional MSP business.
Still, there are sure to be a few MSPs out there who are now looking for an alternative, so we are going to suggest a few in this article.
VNC is a stalwart name in remote access, and much loved by old-school techies for its open source approach and good cross-platform compatibility.
It’s perhaps not ideal for MSP’s, however, who may not wish to forward the necessary ports or worry about the potential security issues.
On the other hand, it is still free, at least in some forms!
Citrix powered GoToAssist isn’t a particularly cheap option, but it is a good fit for MSPs. As it works using a flash plugin, remote sessions are initiated via a Web browser, so there’s no need for any port forwarding or router configuration. Essentially, if a client PC has an Internet connection, you can remote control it.
GoToAssist also has unattended support options, advanced functionality, and a range of subscription options including day passes, which are ideal for part-time IT consultants.
TeamViewer is another great choice for MSPs – and (unlike LogMeIn) remains a free option for non-commercial use.
TeamViewer is another product that doesn’t require holes to be punched in the firewall, and uses 256-bit AES security. It also support mobile devices natively and adds online meeting functionality and session recording.
CrossLoop is another remote access options that remains free in some form: you can get free remote access to a single computer.
Although annual subscriptions are available for up to 500 computers, functionality is (in our opinion) light compared to what’s available with TeamViewer and GoToAssist. Still, it’s worth a look for those who want to investigate all the options.
Chrome Remote Desktop
Google’s remote access option uses a browser app, and is cross-platform and free. Those MSPs determined not to lay out a little money will probably feel tempted to give it a try.
However, it’s fair to describe it as a consumer option. It’s not really designed for support providers and lacks some fairly basic functionality, such as the ability the reboot a machine and regain access on restart. People spooked by recent privacy revelations may also consider using a Google service as a threat to their security!
The withdrawal of LogMeIn’s free service will be a disappointment to some IT pros, but at the same time provides a good opportunity to switch to a better service. Remote support is such a key part of an MSP business that owners of such businesses shouldn’t really object to paying a small amount to use something more fit for purpose.
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