Product Reviews

Sorting Out Service Packs

Gravity Storm program makes service pack and hotfix installation a snap.

Vector Networks' PC-Duo provides just about all the remote control functionality a system administrator could ever want. Running across the full suite of Windows platforms, from 16-bit versions right through Windows 2000 and Windows ME, PC-Duo lets you control, inspect, and fix user's computers with ease. Connecting via IPX, TCP/IP or even a web browser, PC-Duo runs in three basic modes: share mode, where both the administrator and user's keyboard and mouse are active; watch mode, where the administrator sees the user's screen; and control mode, where the user's mouse and keyboard are locked out. Control mode makes it easy to adjust settings without having to fight the user for the mouse.

One very useful PC-Duo feature is the "scale to fit" option for the administrator's display. This allows you to better use screen real estate by shrinking the user's display into a smaller window. Another nice touch is two-way audio communication between the computers involved. In addition, you can open a chat window, send messages, transfer clipboard contents and even reboot the remote computer-all from the administrator's console.

PC-Duo also offers good multiple client management capability. You can display the same result to more than one connected client, or you can set your administrative display to automatically cycle through a client list. The software's System Snapshot feature retrieves hardware and software information from the client computer into a single property dialog; this is very helpful when you're trying to troubleshoot configuration issues.

One other important note: The end user hasn't been left out of the equation. PC-Duo implements a "request help" feature, letting users initiate a session to get a problem solved and making the application useful for help desk sessions.

PC-Duo's share mode allows both the administrator and user's keyboard and mouse to be active. (Click image to see larger version.)

All in all, PC-Duo is one of the more impressive remote control applications I've tried lately, with a good selection of powerful features that allows the busy system administrator to help out across the network without ever leaving the office.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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