Affinity Consulting Blog

As a longtime LogMeIn user (I even paid big bucks for their Ignition iPad app), I was sorry to see LogMeIn eliminate their free remote access and control service and switch to a paid subscription-only model. I don't use remote access often, so I didn't want to pay a subscription fee. When on the road, I access my important files using the excellent SugarSync cloud-based file synchronization service. I prefer SugarSync to Dropbox for its better user interface and more favorable subscription pricing structure. For viewing and editing documents on my iPad, Android phone, Chromebook, or Windows 8.1 tablet, access to files via SugarSync is more important to me than the ability to remotely access and control my primary PC.

But once every few months I need remote access capabilities to run software that is installed only on my primary PC. For that reason, having a reliable remote access service installed and ready to go is a good idea. For those who want to work at home and access their office computer regularly, a remote access service is even more important. Now that LogMeIn Pro (their cheapest option) is $99 per year, is there a free remote access and control service that works well?

The consensus from reading the technology blogosphere is TeamViewer is now the best free (for private non-commercial use) remote access service. A recent Lifehacker survey of its readers placed TeamViewer far ahead of other remote access tools. So last night I uninstalled LogMeIn and installed TeamViewer on my primary PC and on my Windows 8.1 tablet. I also installed the TeamViewer app on my iPad and Android phone. I then did a series of remote sessios from each of my portable devices to my primary PC. Overall, TeamViewer was fast and reliable. There are some things about LogMeIn's user interface that I prefer to TeamViewer, but that may change as I get used to the way TeamViewer works. I would have to agree with Lifehacker's readers that TeamViewer is a top remote access choice.

If you are a Chrome browser user, there is another remote access and control choice to consider, and it is also free. Chrome Remote Desktop is a Chrome extension that is free to install and easy to set up. It will allow you to remote into any computer logged into your Google account. As with TeamViewer, there are two security steps. First you log into your account (for TeamViewer, you create a free account with a user name and password, for Chrome Remote Desktop, you log into your existing Google account), then you select the remote computer you wish to access and enter its individual access code. Since I use two-step verification on my Google account (which everyone should do), there are actually three security steps when I use Chrome Remote Desktop.

There is no reason to mourn the passing of LogMeIn's free service. If you like LogMeIn and you are a regular user, pay the $99 annual subscription fee to remotely access up to two computers. Or you can try TeamViewer, Chrome Remote Desktop, or both (as I now plan to do).

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