Citrix GoToMyPC 6.0

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Cost aside, GoToMyPC 6.0 is a great service. It is extremely easy to install, has great features and most importantly, it just works.

GoToMyPC
Remote access to a PC can be a great convenience for those of us who are constantly on the road or need to manage or fix things while out on location. At the PC desktop level, there are currently a few ways you can achieve this including using free VNC server software and Windows' built in Remote Desktop but there are inherit problems with doing this, the main being security.

Unless you have a VPN to protect your connection back to the office or home, you would be looking at port forwarding which essentially gives anyone on the Internet the opportunity to gain access to you computer. Access is made even easier with the availability of software to deliberately hammer Remote Desktop machines with brute force and dictionary password attacks. You also have very little or no encryption in your connection opening up the further opportunity for hackers to pick up keystrokes and passwords as you use your remote access.

GoToMyPC 6.0 is a Web-based remote access server run by Citrix. Access to your remote host is gained through the GoToMyPC Web site and all that is required is a Java enabled browser and the GoToMyPC client running on the remote host computer. Citrix will contact your computer as soon as you request to connect and make the connection regardless of firewall or network configuration. GoToMyPC is not unique though, LogMeIn and Symantec's pcAnywhere are two other services which work similarly to GoToMyPC.

How We Tested
We tested GoToMyPC by creating a GoToMyPC account on its Web site and installing the client software on one of our Acer Aspire 3620 laptops on an 802.11g wireless network. We remotely connected to the host computer with another Acer Aspire 3620 laptop using Firefox 2.0. All the testing was done to and from networks connected by ADSL2+ connections in a NAT environment. The laptops are assigned their networking details dynamically via DHCP and we did not forward any ports. We measured network and CPU usage on the host and also tried turning firewalls on and off.

In order to start using GoToMyPC, all that is required is access to the Internet, a Java-enabled browser and an account on its Web site. Unfortunately it is mandatory to supply Citrix with your credit card details even for the current 30 day free trial. If you do not leave the free trial, Citrix will immediately start billing your credit card as soon as the trial ends. We feel that this is too forceful and Citrix should reconsider its approach.

PCE sets itself up as a virtual web server in IIS
[Click to enlarge]
GoToMyPC running within a window

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Once the account is confirmed, login using the PC you want to remote control and select the option to install the software. Within a minute, the installation is done. Your newly added PC will appear on the list of computers you can control on the Web site and each one has its own password which you specified in the installation process. To connect to a computer, login to the GoToMyPC Web site and "connect" to the computer in your list -- if you do not have the required software, it will be installed for you. Within a few seconds, you can take control of the remote computer. The connection worked flawlessly through two NAT network environments, without any port forwarding and with both computers using personal firewalls. It's impressive in how easy it was to install the software and use, as well as how robust the software is in connecting through these networking obstacles.

GoToMyPC also provides more functionality than Remote Desktop and VNC. You can share printers, sync files and share sound between client and host computers. In our tests, to provide both moving video and constant sound, we were getting very reasonable performance using only 500 kilobits (roughly 60 kilobytes) per second, well within the bounds of ADSL. CPU usage was very high though on our 1.6GHz laptop running at a constant 60 - 80 percent, using Windows Media Player remotely.

Verdict
Citrix's GoToMyPC service starts at US$19.95 a month per computer. There are price breaks for paying annually and for having extra computers on your account. Even with the price breaks, we consider this quite expensive. At this price bracket, we feel that it excludes the everyday computer user that wants occasional remote access and would only appeal to IT professionals or business people that have a very pressing need to access their computer remotely and securely without a VPN.

Cost aside, GoToMyPC 6.0 is a great service. It is extremely easy to install, has great features and most importantly, it just works. Anyone who has tried to securely set-up some kind of remote access will appreciate why we think Citrix could not make it any easier to remotely access your PC.

Product GoToMyPC 6.0
Price From US$19.95 per PC
Vendor Citrix
Contact +1 800 5744 2340
gotocorp@citrixonline.com
Interoperability
3.5 out of 5
Works with a wide variety of operating systems and browsers. Works with Windows 2000, XP Home and Pro. Requires Internet Explorer, Firefox or Netscape.
Futureproofing
4 out of 5
Works in any situation where both client and host computers have access to Web traffic.
ROI
3 out of 5
Excellent product with very good support and compatibility but is too expensive.
Service
4 out of 5
24/7 Phone support. FAQ and user self help available on the Web site. E-mail billing and support enquiries can also be made.
Rating
3.5 out of 5

Topics: CXO, Hardware, Reviews, Virtualization

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