Remote Control Done Right
Seeing the whole picture with NetSupport 8.1.
- By Joe Crawford
"Who needs another remote control product?" I asked, looking
at the NetSupport Manager box that just arrived. I installed the product,
and took it through the paces. Turn by turn, I was pleasantly surprised.
After ignoring the 300-page manual (software should be intuitive) and
launching the control console, I noticed the ability to add a new client,
which should install the client on the system. It didn't. Right-clicking
on the icon for the client didn't provide an installation option either,
so up came the online help.
As it turns out, a client can't be installed remotely from the control
console. Instead, you have to launch the separate NetSupport Deploy tool.
While the tool is intuitive, and flexible in deployment options, it really
should be integrated into NetSupport, or at least accessible from the
Once the client was installed, taking control remotely was simple. There
are options for voice chat, file transfers, inventory of the remote machine,
Wake-On-LAN, etc. Think NetMeeting on steroids. Remote control was responsive,
and the mouse lag common to most remote control products was virtually
non-existent. And it didn't conflict with VNC or the SMS Client already
on the machines. NetSupport also boasts a feature that allows clients
to request assistance, which is wonderful in a school, library, or Internet
Then I started really poking around and noticed that you can add a client
of a different type-VNC. For the uninitiated, VNC is a free remote control
product downloadable from www.realvnc.com. Suddenly I thought that NetSupport
might serve as a central console for managing my VNC machines as well.
It will, but not for Windows machines. Only Mac and Linux clients need
apply. Although VNC has a Windows viewer, NetSupport doesn't support it.
Sulking, I returned to investigating the product again. When reviewing,
I always try to find something that would compel me to buy. Something
that would make me spend my sons' hard-earned paper route money. I found
NetSupport Tutor (also referred to as NetSupport School, with yet another
standalone interface) allows an instructor, administrator, parent or Big
Brother to simultaneously monitor multiple desktops. You can select what
URLs and applications are permissible for the clients to run. This is
a very compelling feature for a trainer or parent.
|The NetSupport Control console lets admins totally
control a remote PC, and communicate with the end user.
It also allows viewing of one user's desktop to the other machines, though
it locked up the few times I tried it. In a classroom setting, this lets
every student get involved in the troubleshooting process.
While I'd love to see the NetSupport folks integrate all of the functionality
into a single interface, where features could be shown or hidden based
on the user's job function, the product is well suited to the environments
to which it caters. "Who needs another remote control product?"
I asked myself. "I do."
Joe Crawford, MCSE, works as a support engineer for HP, supporting Microsoft networking technologies. He specializes in Microsoft Systems Management Server and scripting.