If you were wondering what the best remote desktop software is, you’ve arrived at the right place, because today’s article is just about that. To begin with, remote desktop software is used to deploy software remotely or to resolve tickets, most often in an enterprise environment, or to access a PC remotely. Regardless of what you’ll be using it for, here are a few things to consider before going on a buying spree for a remote support tool.
First, the advantages of remote desktop software include cost reduction, speed in the resolution of issues, comfort, as in your tech-support staff or even yourself can take care of problems without leaving the office or home, and, last but not least, an increase in customer satisfaction. Since the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting travel and businesses from all around the world, remote desktop software, as well as screen-sharing software, are essential tools for those of you who are capable of working from home, so yeah, health issues also play a role in choosing the gear you buy.
How to choose the Best Remote Desktop Software
First and foremost, there’s the usability issue, since not all people are tech-geeks, hence your remote desktop software must be intuitive, easy to use and understand, and have a user-friendly interface; simplicity is golden is this regard.
Next, there’s security and data protection, so look for software that doesn’t have a history of being compromised or hacked. Compliance is also important, as well as customer support quality. The ideal vendor should offer 24/7 customer support via live chat, email, Twitter, phone, what have you.
If you’re looking for remote desktop software for an enterprise/business environment, pay extra attention to upgrade fees and license sharing options. And here are the most important features to look after unattended access, multisession handling, multi-window control, built-in chat, file, and clipboard transfer, auto reboot and reconnect, restart in safe mode, log on/off and switch user, 2-way desktop sharing, multi-monitor navigation, remote screen scaling, session usage reporting, video session recording, and, finally, branding and customization.
Basically, everything revolves around ease of use, the security of the connection, compliance and compatibility, customer support, plus the features required for a specific client or group of clients. With all these in mind, let’s take a look at the best remote desktop software in no particular order:
Best Remote Desktop Software Solutions
The Best Remote Access Software
TeamViewer is the granddaddy of remote desktop software, and that’s why we picked it first. To describe it in a few words, TeamViewer stands true to its name, as it makes for a comprehensive all in one solution for secure remote access, management and support, being available in both free and paid versions, and featuring cross-platform compatibility, which means it works anywhere, anytime (Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, iOS, Android you name it), on network machines, regular PCs and mobile devices.
If you’re looking to download TeamViewer for personal use, there’s no license fee required, and the fully-featured business version also comes with a 14-day free trial, with no credit card required, so yeah, as far as freebies go, TeamViewer is as good as it gets. However, the free version offers minimal remote access features, but it’s more than enough to help you connect via the “interwebz” with your family and/or friends. If you’re looking to gain remote access for business/work purposes though, you’ll have to go for a single/multi-user/team plan.
Besides the cross-platform compatibility, TeamViewer comes with all the important features we told you about in the preamble of the article: integration, which means you can integrate TeamViewer’s features into your help-desk, ticket or CRM systems (only the paid version can do that obviously), wake/restart/install provided you have pre-approved admin-access/permissions for device-access, file transfer via the software’s dual-window interface or by drag-and-drop from one machine to another, instant chat, session recording which is great for training/presentation purposes, grouping, monitor control exchange and even personalized branding.
To make a long story short, TeamViewer is the complete solution and the king of remote desktop software, and yes, it can do anything and everything you might require from such a beast. However, there are many IT geeks who would be more than happy with something cheaper than TeamViewer; unfortunately, the “business” version is quite expensive.
- Feature-filled and powerful, supports team meetings
- Industry-leading security features (AES-256-bit encryption and two-factor authentication)
- Cross-platform compatibility, multi-user remote support sessions
- Enterprise friendly: HIPAA compliant, SOC 2-certified and compliant, and ISO 27001 certified
- A well-designed user interface, extremely easy to use even for non-tech enthusiasts
- Kind of expensive
The Best Remote Desktop Software for Mac
RemotePC was basically a “freebie” up until January 2020, and it’s currently available for Mac and Windows machines in its paid-version only. RemotePC does exactly as it says, i.e. it provides remote access on both desktop and mobile devices, offering comprehensive features such as chat, multiple monitor support, and file transfer, among others.
What’s nice about RemotePC software is that it offers you the opportunity to control multiple machines at once from the comfort of your own home/desk, at a reasonable price and relatively hassle-free. Security is important when it comes to business environments, hence RemotePC encrypts your connection using TLS v 1.2/AES-256 encryption, and, on top of that, each machine requires a Personal Key, which is basically a user-defined password that gives you access to the respective computer or device.
The software can be downloaded for either Mac or PC, and after the connection with the remote computer is established, you can easily communicate with the remote user via chat, or open programs, move files around with ease, control settings, write documents, etc. Strangely enough, voice-chat is not available, but there’s a whiteboard feature if you want to draw stuff on the screen. RemotePC also allows you to record your sessions, and to control a PC from a smartphone/tablet running on iOS or Android.
Even if you don’t have access to your smartphone or computer, you can still access a remote machine via RemotePC’s website by logging in and choosing the computer you require access to; the site will launch the RemotePC Viewer Lite, the web version obviously, and thus you’ll be able to access (in a limited fashion as per its name) your PC, which is as cool as it gets.
- Versatile remote desktop software
- Good value for money, very secure
- Easy to use and to setup
- Supports sticky notes, lock, sign out, reboot, and reboot to Safe Mode
- Features include text chat, file transfer, multiple monitor support, wake on LAN
- Lags a bit compared to TeamViewer
The Best Software for Remote Desktop
Next in line, we have GoToMyPC, i.e. remote access software which is designed to work efficiently even for “boomer-tech” level customers, as it is very reliable and has easy-to-use features. However, even if GoToMyPC is designed with simplicity in mind, there’s a caveat for our “freebie” aficionados: just like TeamViewer’s business version, this one is expensive to license. If you can live with paying top-dollar for your remote access software, GoToMyPC’s simplistic approach and elegant functionality make it a solid contender if you’re looking to control/access multiple remote systems.
It’s worth mentioning that this is one of the oldest remote access software on the market, as it was first launched more than 20 years ago, back in 1998. And surprisingly enough, after all this time, GoToMyPC still doesn’t offer support for Linux machines.
If you can live with that, the interface is very intuitive and simple to use, file transfer works via “drag and drop” from the controlling computer to the remote system or the other way around, and if you want to transfer many folders/files and once, there’s a transfer tool available. Chat is possible too, but the chat window is kind of rudimentary, and unfortunately, you won’t get an audio-feed option via VoiP.
Security-wise, you’ll have to set a unique password for every remote system, that’s required with each access, and you can also use an SMS-based two-factor authentication option. There’s no free version available, i.e. you must choose between Personal, Pro, and Corporate, and each of them is quite pricey, to say the least.
The Personal (and the cheapest) option will give you unlimited remote access, end to end encryption, file transfer and sync capabilities, remote printing, mobile apps and free customer support 24/7 for one user. If you want more, you know the drill: you’ll have to pay the premium.
- Decent features
- Simplicity at its best, ease of use
- Secure enough for most users
- Very pricey
- No Linux support
The Best Remote Access Software for Small Business
The company’s “jingle” is very inspired and it goes like this: anywhere, anytime, AnyDesk. And yeah, that’s pretty smart for remote desktop software, especially for one that offers freebies for personal use, i.e. you’ll only have to pay the “premium” for the business version. Besides being free for home use, AnyDesk also works on virtually any platform, ranging from Windows and macOS to mobile stuff like Android, iOS, plus “niche” operating systems like Linux, Raspberry PI, and FreeBSD.
Obviously, since it’s the “current year”, performance comes into play, and here AnyDesk really stands out from the crowd, as it boasts low latency, high frame rate (60 FPS), very efficient use of bandwidth, quick launch, real-time collaboration and features a fail-safe system plus state of the art encryption technology (RSA 2048 asymmetric encryption). In terms of flexibility, AnyDesk allows you to work anywhere, especially due to its cross-platform compatibility multi-platform support and minimalist design/light-weightiness (the client has only 3 MB).
Moreover, even the “premium” version is quite affordable, which is very important to small businesses. For home users, AnyDesk offers built-in file transfer, record sessions, sessions reporting, remote reboot and all the important “goodies” to make it a strong competitor for TeamViewer and more. So, if you’re looking for a minimalist and affordable remote desktop software that gets the job done with zero drama, AnyDesk should rank high on your “bucket-list”.
- Well-designed and incredibly fast
- Easy to use/setup, feature-rich and lightweight
- The quick installation process, very effective
- Lacks 2-factor authentication
- The user interface looks outdated
The Best Cloud-Based Remote Desktop Software
Zoho Assist is a little bit different from its competitors, as it makes for cloud-based remote support and remote access software. To keep your data safe, Zoho Assist uses SSL 256-bit AES encryption and supports file transfer, on-demand remote support, unattended remote access, voice/video chat, reboot and reconnect, multiple monitors, screen sharing, integrations and more. It’s important to mention that Zoho Assist is optimized for small/mid-sized business, and it’s an excellent tool for employees looking to access the company’s computers while working remotely, or for specialized IT departments looking to troubleshoot multiple machines.
Another cool thing about Zoho Assist is that it offers a free forever plan, a basic plan that is, absolutely free of charge, which can be used by both private persons or businesses. The freebie provides you with access for 1 remote support technician and 5 unattended machines, plus the option for 1 concurrent session, as well as basic access features like instant messaging and clipboard sharing. If you want more, you must go for the (paid) standard/professional/enterprise plans.
Among the most important features of Zoho Assist, we must mention cross-platform compatibility, (Linux, Windows, Mac, iOS, Chrome, Android), integration (G Suite, Spiceworks, and Zendesk support), file transfer (up to 2 GB), session scheduling and recording, monitor control exchange, grouping, personalized branding, scalability, and instant chat. Even if Zoho Assist doesn’t have all the exotic features of other products, it’s very reliable, safe, easy to use and inexpensive, making for a great tool for both personal use and IT departments and/or technical outsourcing businesses.
- Inexpensive, well designed, easily serviceable
- Easy to use and to install
- Comes with a forever free plan, elegant interface
- Features Mobile SDK for iOS / Android, instant chat, file transfer, swap screen, remote power options
- None really
A Secure Choice for Home and Business
Formerly known as ScreenConnect, ConnectWise Control is an excellent tool if you’re looking for cross-platform remote desktop software, as it works great on both Macs, PCs, and tablets, and, most importantly, it’s fast and cost/hardware efficient. Speaking of costs, ConnectWise Control is absolutely free for personal use, but be advised: the freebie only has basic remote access features, yet it’s more than enough to help you connect with your family and friends. If you want to use it for business purposes, you must go for a paid option, ranging from One plan to a Premium plan and Unattended Access plan.
If you’re not sure what to choose, you will benefit from a 14-day free trial regardless of the option. Feature-wise, ConnectWise Control offers cross-platform access including Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise, CentOS and Solaris, Android and iOS, integration via add-on functions, file transfer, grouping, monitor control exchange, personalized branding, automated responses, instant chat, multiple languages support, and scalability; keep in mind that this remote desktop software is highly customizable and it’s aimed at tech-savvy users, but rest assured, as tech support is pretty good.
If you’re obsessed with data security, ConnectWise doesn’t disappoint, as it offers various layers of protection for your data, including end-to-end 256-bit SSL encryption, plus screen recording, audit logs for each session, 2-factor authentication, limiting access/restricting IP addresses to certain sessions, and session timeouts, which is significantly above what can be described as the “industry standard” in this particular niche.
- Highly customizable, polished interface
- Stellar security, excellent as a training tool
- Easy to setup and to install/deploy
- Flexible extensions, cross-platform compatibility
- Free version available for home use
- Premium plans are quite expensive
The Best Remote Desktop Software for Windows
Remote Utilities is another interesting remote desktop software for Windows, and that’s due to two main reasons: firstly, it’s free of charge, and secondly, the “freebie” allows you to connect to up to 10 machines from an app installed on the “master-computer” or from a mobile device. Another cool thing about Remote Utilities is that it offers 15 tools to connect to a remote machine, which makes it one of the best of the bunch.
Remember that Remote Utilities only works on Windows OS, which incidentally is the world’s most-used operating system, but the good news is that it’s compatible with virtually all Windows versions: 32/64 bit versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 (like, doh), plus full support for Windows Server 2012, 2008 and even Windows Server 2003. As far as Windows goes, these guys have it covered! By the way, the Host and Viewer apps can be easily launched from a flash drive/USB drive, i.e. you won’t have to install third-party software if you’re the paranoid type.
Remote Utilities also allows you to check out a remote screen in View Only mode and works great behind routers. Since the Host app doesn’t require installation either, this means you can offer support instantaneously, and remote tools can be executed without displaying annoying prompts or messages on the remote machine. All things considered, Remote Utilities comes with tons of features (Power control, Task manager, Voice and video chat, remote Execute, and Screen recorder) for zero costs for both private use and businesses, and that’s why it ranks very high on our “best remote desktop software” list.
- Free of charge on up to 10 PCs (can be used on over 50,000 machines if you buy a license)
- Provides instantaneous support, print remotely, supports chat, Wake on LAN
- Can access Command Prompt remotely
- Supports file transfer
- Does not work on Mac OS (that’s a bummer)
- The User Interface can be confusing for some users
Amazing Value for the Money
Splashtop is a relatively new remote access app, making for a low priced (and worthy) alternative to established remote desktop software like TeamViewer, offering a strong feature set and an elegant user interface for a very affordable price. Besides affordability, Splashtop features industry-leading 256-bit encrypted sessions, plus the usual file transfer, chat window, local printing of remote files, a shared clipboard, plus access via mobile devices.
But don’t worry, as advanced features are also available, including the capability of restarting the remote computer in safe mode, which comes handy when you’re troubleshooting another person’s PC; it’s worth mentioning that Splashtop only allows you to access Mac OS and Windows systems, by you can do that from virtually any OS, including Android, iOS, Kindle Fire and basically anything that allows the Chrome browser. The user interface is well designed (some may even say elegant), and you have the option to log in through a web browser into your account and connect to remote PCs, set options or view logs.
Finally, security is pretty good, as Splashtop will ask you to use a unique security code sent by email or a Windows login when connecting to a remote machine.
- A clean user interface, relatively affordable compared to others
- Session recording, easy set-up, file transfer, scalability, remote reboot and wake
- Works on both Windows and Macs, cross-platform access
- Solid security options including TLS and 256-bit encryption plus multifactor authentication
- Free trial for only 7 days
A Solid Choice for Professionals
If you’re looking for solid and straight-forward remote desktop software, which also works great for file sharing, LogMeIn comes to mind. The thing about LogMeIn is that it makes for a professional-tier smooth running remote access software that works great on both macOS and Windows, and comes with flexible file sharing features, the most important being cloud storage, which is kind of rare in this niche.
There are three versions of LogMeIn, with the most basic being the Pro plan, which can be used on 2 machines; if you want more, well, you’ll have to scale up, including in terms of costs. The Pro plan offers remote access to an unlimited number of users, but only on 2 computers. Basically, if you have a small business or you work from home, the Pro plan is enough.
The user interface is kind of dated, but feature-wise, LogMeIn is pretty good, allowing you, for example, to play remote audio through the client, i.e. to stream sound while connected to another machine, or remote printing from a client to a server. Security-wise, you’ll receive an email each time somebody tries to log in to one of your PCs using an invalid password, and speaking of Cloud-based, you’ll get 1TB of storage for files for the LogMeIn Pro version.
- The user interface is minimalistic and very intuitive
- Offers 1 TB of cloud storage for simple storage or file sharing purposes
- You can access most of the features via your web-browser
- Powered by BitDefender to avoid online threats
- Features TLS 1.2 transport security with AES-256-bit encryption for your internet connections
- No free version available, just a 30-day free trial
- The UI looks kind of dated, especially on Mac OS
Remote Desktop Manager
The Best Free Remote Desktop Software
Remote Desktop Manager is the Swiss army knife of remote desktop software, or so they claim. All jokes aside, RDM is designed to centralize all your remote connections on a secure single platform, which is then shared between all the users in your team, i.e. this is an enterprise-grade remote desktop software which supports multiple VPNs and protocols, as well as hundreds of integrated technologies, together with state-of-the-art password management tools.
RDM works great for servers, workstations, network devices, websites, cloud resources, virtual infrastructures, and it comes with an impressive set of features, of which we must mention remote connection management, password management, secure access, auditing and reporting and easy management with templates. Also, Remote Desktop Manager is compatible with many modern tools and technologies, including Citrix, Apple Remote Desktop, FTP, Dameware, LogMeIn (yes, we reviewed this one previously), Hyper-V, Radmin, Terminal Services, Telnet, Virtual Network Computing, VMware, SCP (secure copy protocol), X Windows, Wayk Now and more.
RDM comes in two flavors: a fully-featured Enterprise edition and a Free edition. However, the latter only offers remote connection management and password management, including importing passwords; if you want more, you’ll have to go for the Enterprise version.
- Enterprise-grade remote desktop software
- Built for big organizations
- Comes with a free version and 30-day free trial for the Enterprise thing
- Incredibly feature-rich
- The Free edition is more than enough for most users
- None we can think of
Chrome Remote Desktop
Free Stuff for Chrome Users
If you think Google, world’s biggest search engine (and more), Chrome browser comes to mind, and here’s the punch-line: Chrome Remote Desktop is here to provide you with free remote access to any PC/device capable of running Chrome browser, without having to install third-party software and hassle-free. Just like any other Google product, Chrome Remote Desktop is absolutely free of charge, which means you’re the merchandise; seriously now, you won’t have to spend a dime on commercial remote desktop software if you can live under the benevolent eye of Google and its Chrome Remote Desktop product, which is very easy to set up, i.e. all you need is the Chrome Browser, and yes, that about sums it up folks.
However, even if this remote desktop software is free and nothing more than an extension on your Chrome browser, it does come with its own limitations, which are actually to be expected from such a minimalist design. To begin with the good stuff, Chrome Remote Desktop works on Linux, Mac, and Windows, as well as Android/iOS devices and offers spontaneous support and unattended access, plus clipboard syncing, key mapping, and uploading/downloading files between a remote computer and yours. On the downside, there’s no built-in chat, it only works with the Chrome browser, there’s no drag/drop file transfer, no multi-monitor support, no multi-session handling and you cannot reboot the remote machine and automatically reconnect.
If you want all the fancy features, forget about Chrome Remote Desktop, but if you’re happy with a free, quick and hassle-free remote desktop software, this is the droid you were looking for all your life.
- Absolutely free of charge
- No third party software required
- Works directly from a browser
- Easy to set up, cross-platform compatibility
- Relatively secure for home-use
- Lacks many features found in dedicated remote desktop software
Microsoft Remote Desktop
The Best Things in Life are Free
Last but not least, we have Microsoft’s own take on remote desktop software, and since Microsoft is the “big daddy” of operating systems i.e. the most popular OS in the known universe, one would expect from their native remote desktop software to be the best thing ever invented since Windows 7.
Truth be told, as far proprietary services go, Microsoft’s Remote Desktop does a decent job, but it’s not the best out there (not even close actually). However, since MRD is totally free, there are obvious advantages to using it for managing a couple of remote PCs on the same network.
Firstly, this is freeware at its best, and incredibly simple to set up and to use, even if we’re talking boomer-tech levels of savviness; however, if you’re looking for accessing your business PCs remotely or for local administration, look elsewhere.
- Free of charge, easy to use and to set-up
- Comes with Windows Pro, Business or Ultimate
- Difficult to set up outside your network
- You can’t reboot the remote machine and automatically reconnect
- Locks the remote screen and you can’t run more multiple concurrent sessions