Caption by: Paul Monckton
LogMeIn provides a range of online services including, backup, VPN, remote technical support and handy remote access software, both for individuals and corporations. LogMeIn’s remote access service comes in a number of different versions, depending on your needs and your budget. Best of all, the basic version is completely free.
LogMeIn Free is one of those must-have applications found in the toolbox of anyone in the know. There are plenty of remote access solutions available, including Windows’ own Remote Desktop application and Citrix's GoToMyPC. However, none are as slick and seamless as LogMeIn: you can install LogMeIn Free on as many PCs (or Macs) as you like, and then access them from anywhere in the world by logging into the LogMeIn web site.
For many people, the free version of the software offers all the remote control they'll need, as even this version can do more than Windows Remote Desktop. Perhaps the biggest advantage is the fact that the remote screen and keyboard remain active by default, meaning you can provide remote assistance to someone who's still sitting at their PC.
The latest version of LogMeIn Free adds several new features that have been incorporated into a much-improved user interface with a tidier look and a customisable tool bar. From here you can quickly change connection options including screen resolution and configure the image quality to best fit your available bandwidth. You also get a virtual laser pointer and a new real-time text-based chat system.
A built-in whiteboard function lets you scribble all over the remote screen, or more usefully annotate the remote screen to provide instruction. Frequently-accessed remote PCs can be assigned a desktop shortcut, so there’s no need to manually connect to the LogMeIn service each time you need to connect.
If you’ve ever tried supporting a less-than-technical user over the phone, then switch to LogMeIn and you’ll wonder how you ever coped without it. Security issues such as firewalls and encryption are all handled by LogMeIn, so you won’t need to configure anything yourself.
LogMeIn Free offers basic remote control functionality, while the $12.95 a month Pro version adds a number of useful features.
Upgrade to Pro
So far, all of the functionality described is available without paying a penny. However, if you’re prepared to part with a subscription fee of $12.95 (~£6.25) per month or $69.95 (~£34) per year (bulk discounts are available), then you can take advantage of several additional features by upgrading to LogMeIn Pro (see this feature comparison table).
Remote Sound allows you to hear all the sounds that would be generated by the remote PC. You could use this to listen to music, but it’s more useful for simple audio cues like email notifications.
Remote Printing automatically connects the remote PC to your local printer and sets it as the default, so issuing a print command results in your remote document being printed out locally without any additional configuration.
Similarly, local hard drives can be made available to the remote machine through Explorer, allowing files to be transferred by simply dragging and dropping them onto the desktop.
A file manager lets you move files between local and remote systems, as well as replicate and synchronise folders.
In low-bandwidth situations or for more intensive file transfers, a file manager is available separately from the remote control session, which functions much like Windows Explorer with the addition of facilities such as folder synchronisation and replication.
The Mini Meeting function allows you to share your PC’s desktop with anyone on your network or over the internet. Selecting the option provides you with a URL that you can send via email or IM, which will temporarily allow the recipient to view or control your PC without the need to sign up for a service or type a password.
If you want to send a file without sharing your whole desktop, then LogMeIn Pro allows you to share individual files using similar web links. This functions much like file transfer services such as yousendit.com, except the files are hosted and administered on your local PC. You can set a maximum number of downloads and an expiry date for the link.
The latest version of LogMeIn has a tidier user interface featuring a customisable tool bar.
Extend your Reach
For more sophisticated technical support options, you can expand the LogMeIn experience still further by subscribing to LogMeIn IT Reach. This version adds a full remote dashboard containing the kind of information found in Windows Task Manager, allowing sophisticated remote diagnosis with configurable alerts via LogMeIn or email.
You also get a remote user manager, registry editor and command prompt, which means you can perform many tasks without the need to initiate a remote control session. With the latest release you can now perform remote system inventories of software, hardware or both. If the remote user installs a new application or piece of hardware, then you’ll know about it.
The extra functionality of LogMeIn IT Reach costs you no more than the PRO version, as both are currently available at the same price. So if you want the maximum functionality you should go for the IT Reach version. You’ll get a cleaner, more streamlined experience from LogMeIn Pro, but be aware that in terms of features you’ll be getting less for the same money.
Too much software today is difficult to use, ugly and easy to break. However, LogMeIn Pro is a joy to use. It’s simple, robust and intuitive, and everything just works. We configured and controlled around a dozen PCs without a moment’s frustration from any of them. The new interface just makes the whole interface even slicker.
Caption by: Paul Monckton