The Ultimate Portability Tool: Accessing your computer remotely

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Mercari Consulting (formerly Brochures by Design)

"Out in the woods or in the city, it's all the same to me, when I'm driving free." When The Who wrote "Goin' Mobile," I doubt they had any idea how easy it could be to work while away from home unless you were a traveling salesman or rock band. Well, guess what? It's no longer a vision of the future. Many of you, no doubt, already use your Blackberry, Treo, etc. to access the Internet while working away from the office. But how would you like to be able to access any file on your computer as if you were sitting in front of it even if you're in another state?

With the advent of such great software as GoToMyPC.com, PCAnywhere, FilesAnywhere, LogMeIn.com, RealVNC, etc. we can take our work with us anywhere! Sure you can get an external hard drive and back up all your files on it or use your trusty thumb drive to have the most important files available to use from another computer, but what if you wanted to work on another computer while you're away from home just as if you were sitting right in front of your home computer?

I have to do just that when I visit my husband for extended periods of time. Because my husband has taken a position with the government in the D.C. area and we are still in Augusta, GA waiting for our middle daughter to graduate from high school, we often travel to visit him. Since I can't stop working just because I'm not at home, I had to find alternative ways to access all my files while away from home.

I've used gotomypc.com to access clients' computers so I could add email signatures, update their computers and so on. It worked fine, although it's slower than actually working from my own computer. I then heard about LogMeIn and its free version. I like free. So I thought I'd give it a try. I've got to say I had some trouble getting it to work on my laptop. I contacted customer service and they were very helpful in troubleshooting ways to get it to work.

Because this is our portability issue, I thought I'd share with you the different software that's available for accessing your computer while away from home. Below, I've provided a quick overview of the most popular programs out there. I have quoted from their sites.

GoToMyPC
"GoToMyPC is for individuals needing remote access to 1-20 PCs. It's an easy and secure remote-access solution that enables you to conveniently access email, files, programs and network resources from home or the road. Get unlimited access to your PCs from any Web browser anywhere." They do offer a trial version good for 30 days.

LogMeIn
"The ultimate in mobility, freedom & flexibility. You're always looking for ways to make your schedule more flexible - it's the key to work/life balance. And the key to flexibility is access to your computer. LogMeIn Free lets you get on your computer without physically being there.
With access to your PC from anywhere, you can go wherever, whenever:

  • open remote files
  • check your email
  • run programs
  • run system diagnostics
  • access from any browser
  • access from wireless Pocket PC
  • easy-to-use interface
  • 100% free to use"

 

PCAnywhere
"Symantec pcAnywhereTM 12.0 is the world's leading remote control solution.* It lets you manage computers and resolve helpdesk issues quickly, and connect to remote devices simply and securely.

Now pcAnywhere adds support for Mac OS® X. And new gateway functionality enables remote users to quickly find the hosts they need through firewalls and routers with minimal setup."

PCNow
"PCNow gives you the ability to access your PC anywhere, anytime. Conveniently access your files, programs and email whether you're at work, at home, on the road or on vacation."

Real VNC
"VNC (Virtual Network Computing) software makes it possible to view and fully-interact with one computer from any other computer or mobile device anywhere on the Internet. VNC software is cross-platform, allowing remote control between different types of computer. For ultimate simplicity, there is even a Java viewer, so that any desktop can be controlled remotely from within a browser without having to install software.

The open source version of VNC has been freely available since 1998, and more than 100 million copies of the software have been downloaded. The software has also appeared on numerous magazine cover disks, and for several years all popular versions of Linux have included VNC. It is in active use by many millions in industry, commerce, education and at home. Virtually all Fortune 500 companies use VNC, and installations of VNC across thousands of workstations are commonplace. For the free download, click here."

Installing and using these programs is easy
If you want to work directly on a remote machine from some other location, just sign up for one of the programs I just mentioned.

Your home computer has to be connected to the Internet all the time so just leave it on while you're away. (It's a good idea to protect your computer during a storm or other power outage by having it plugged into a power surge protector.) Then, access your computer while away from home by using any computer that's connected to the Internet such as your laptop or someone else's computer. To access your computer back home you simply log on to the Internet and visit the login page of the program you downloaded. You can then initiate a session by logging on with your user ID and password that you created when signing up for the service.

It's that simple! Now you're ready to work from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection! I love this capability; without it I would have a much harder time trying to work from my husband's townhouse while visiting him.

Give it a shot; what have you got to lose?

Comments (28)

Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton
Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC - Hilton Head Island, SC
Thank you for taking the time to detail these different programs.  I've never had a reason to need this tool but now, I'll be able to select what works best, thanks to you.
Mar 15, 2007 09:43 AM
Dale Bradbury
John L. Scott Real Estate - Kent, WA
Hey this is an awesome idea.   I've often needed to check my email and don't get them until I get home later in the day.   Wonder how it works with a cellphone like the Treo 650 or 700?
Mar 15, 2007 09:59 AM
Toby Barnett
KW North Sound - Marysville, WA
Toby Barnett
I love remote desktop...i learned awhile ago from a friend that was doing his IT degree. But i didn't know there were other services out there that would faciliate this process...great find.
Mar 15, 2007 10:29 AM
Ray Saenz
Exit Realty Laredo - Laredo, TX
Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor

Hey guys and gals,

I have used Real VNC for some time, it is awesome, fast, easy to use and you can configure ports, it has very good security, I have not noticed any flaws yet on Real VNC I always keep updading my Real VNC.

I use it mainly because I have some servers at office so I can check all computers, files, and I can send from there  faxes and receive faxes, check, etc,   it is a virtual computer. so good !

I have not used the other software, but pc anywhere eat a lot of resources, if you want something small and without to use most resources use  real vnc, also I believe that you can access it from the web if you need it, I have never tried that feature,  you can check the colors so if your connection it is slow, with that you can speed up the system.   on a  DSL  connection and with a speed of  1.54 Mbit/sec   it good to use with 256 colors, very fast.

  

 

Mar 15, 2007 11:56 AM
Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Group Real Estate - Los Gatos, CA
CRS, CIPS, ABR, SRES, Silicon Valley
Thank you so much. I love free too - it's good to test the waters without having to buy the boat!  Great review and very helpful.
Mar 15, 2007 12:37 PM
Evy Williams
Mercari Consulting (formerly Brochures by Design) - Fredericksburg, VA
Mercari Consulting

Hello again, boy I'm amazed at the response this post got! I'm so glad I could be helpful to so many people. :)

By the way, I'm not sure if you all know this but GoToMyPC has a 30-day trial version. If you want to see how it works on your machine, sign up for the trial version. But if you don't like it, be sure to cancel it before the end of 30 days.

Dale, I know an expert Treo user. Her name is Angela Allen Parker with WickedWordCraft.com. You could probably ask her about using the Treo with a remote software product; I'm sure if anyone knows, she will. She blogs about the Treo a lot at WickedBlog.com.

Allen, it was overcast here in Augusta today but very warm -- in the 80s. If you've ever been here during the Masters, you'll know what it's like this time of year -- a thick layer of pollen covering everything! ;)

Have a great night everyone!
Evy

Mar 15, 2007 12:46 PM
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal
I've been using gotomypc.com for a few years now.  It is a little slow but not too bad. I like having my email all on one machine for organizing purposes.
Mar 15, 2007 01:31 PM
Laura Monroe
Inman News - San Francisco, CA
Dir. of Industry Engagement & Social Media
I love LogMeIN.com! I tried GoToMyPC, but found LogMeIn a bit faster to log in right away. I even used it to help my mom get her email set-up, and we live 800 miles from each other:)
Mar 15, 2007 01:38 PM
Randal Keberlein
Weichert Realtors, Precision - Kenosha, WI

With all do respect, Go to My PC,  PC anywhere etc. is old technology. You can accomplish the same things with several different PDA's.  You can certainly do the same and more with wireless solutions for your laptop.  The need for portabilty has become increasingly popular.  Just exactly how important it is, in my opinion, is debatable.

 

 

Mar 15, 2007 01:46 PM
Evy Williams
Mercari Consulting (formerly Brochures by Design) - Fredericksburg, VA
Mercari Consulting

Correct me if I'm wrong, Randal, but with PDAs you'd have to purchase something you may not already have such as a Treo, Blackberry, etc., correct? I don't have one of these types of phones because I don't have the need to be mobile every day. I just need to access my computer files when I'm visiting my husband in Virginia. I work from home so a cell phone is all I really need on a daily basis. Having a product like GoToMyPC is perfect for me because I just access my computer from my laptop remotely anytime I need to. I don't have to buy a PDA or anything else.

I'm certain they're coming up with new technology in this (and other) areas all the time. If you know something about PDAs that I haven't mentioned please, by all means, address them here. I'd love to provide the most complete information possible. :)

Thanks for providing additional insight and information.

Evy

Mar 15, 2007 02:00 PM
Randal Keberlein
Weichert Realtors, Precision - Kenosha, WI
I'll correct you Evy. I beleive you have to buy something extra when you BUY one of these programs.  My only point is:  If you have to invest in technology, don't invest in outdated technology.  Clearly you would not go out today and buy a cassette deck for your car when you can get CD/DVD or satellite radio. By the same token, if you want portability, your money is better spent on a wireless solution.
Mar 15, 2007 03:16 PM
Roger Stensland
Keller Williams Realty Puget Sound - Maple Valley, WA
Let's Move!
Sounds like way too much to do on the weekend.  After 50 to 60-hour week i need a rest.  But thanks for the info.
Mar 15, 2007 04:19 PM
Anonymous
Ray Saenz, Realtor - Aurora Colorado Real Estate

Dear Randal,

I do not agree with you, no offense, I understand that some people needs portability, but to have portability you need to sacrifice a lot of things, Performance? also you need to sacrifice a good keyboard and a good screen.  some people they do not need a PDA to get portability, these days, there are many good notebooks with wireless integrated to work with some carriers as sprint / verizon, so you have very good portability, performance, screen, keyboard and technology.

For some people it is a pain to work with PDA's, yes, they help a lot and in a hurry they can get you out of trouble, but I do not prefer to use a PDA instead of a good portable notebook.

Portability you mean? then sacrifice performance and spend more bucks to have somethng very descent, it is or / or,  you can not have everything in a PDA.

For instance, the best desktop with a super good CPU, RAM, hard drive, video card, etc will not be compared with the best notebook, desktops will be faster if compare the best desktop with the best notebook, but you can not carry an elephant for business, I understand that.

a very descent notebook you can carry what you want and need and you can have a very good technology you can still be wireless without to put the PCMCIA card. that's technology.

To use Real VNC or other kind of software it does not mean bad or old technology, it means that people get to used or prefer to do that for they wants and needs.

My situation, it is that I only use a PDA to sync it with my notebook and viceversa, but imagine me , using ms word, excel, browsing on PDA's?  No way!!, for me? it does not work.

My wife bought a sony notebook 11" ultra portable wireless integrated / WAN integrated / bluetooth

Forget searching the road for hotspots and internet
hook-ups, because with the VAIO® TX Notebook you
don't need a hotspot to stay connected. With integrated
wireless Wide Area Network (WAN) technology1 and a
subscription to the Cingular Wireless national EDGE
network
, you can extend your wireless coverage well
beyond the restrictions of LAN access and hotpots.

 still, that great notebook will not replace mine, so here is my point, we need to see what are you needs / wants, portability or performance or the middle, technology for small items will be always expensive and not so powerful and not so comfortables as bigger ones.

It does not mean that we use old technology, I do not see any relationship between technology with portability  compared with a Betamax v.s. Blue Ray Technology. We can have very good tecnology on a bigger item too.

Bottom line, I use Real VNC for a lot of reasons, depending  wants / needs of everybody and a good PDA will not replace my notebook for now. Even you do not need any other software if you are using Windows XP or Vista to connect through computers and remote control them.

I agree with Evy

Amen !

 

 

Mar 15, 2007 05:41 PM
#21
Laura Monroe
Inman News - San Francisco, CA
Dir. of Industry Engagement & Social Media

Ray~ I'm not speaking for Evy, but I say Amen too, and I'm glad you brought that up!

Randal~Tech needs as a VA are a bit different than for an agent, or other mobile communications. Evy is not only a VA that does admins work, but her speciality is creative design in marketing for real estate. Being in the same niche of marketing myself, I can attest to the fact that using design software on a PDA is next to impossible. Yeh sure, if I just wanted to check my email, and work on a few spread sheets a nice Pocket PC might work. Point being, as Ray said...its all in what you need for a tool, and having the ability to log into a clients computer remotely and do the work required without alot of high maintenence communication with a client is not really outdated technology..its great!

Mar 16, 2007 03:43 AM
Anonymous
Evy Williams
Laura, you said it perfectly! As I was reading Randal's comment, I thought to myself, "there's no way I could design a brochure using a PDA." I don't think he was thinking about other uses beyond what he is accustomed to using. And, as for accessing a client's comuter to help them, say, set up an email signature, I don't believe that can even be done using a PDA.

All technology will become outdated eventually but to compare GoToMyPC to a cassette deck is simply ridiculous. :)

We all have to find what works best for us and apparently, Randal is satisfied with his PDA. Good for him! For my purposes, though, it just wouldn't work.

Thanks for everyone's comments.

Evy
Mar 16, 2007 05:01 AM
#23
Terry Lynch
LAR Notary and Closing Services - Saint Clair Shores, MI

I heard about logmein from someone else here on AR a few weeks back and have been using it ever since.

As far as some of the others being outdated, outdated compared to what?

Technology becomes outdated as compared to the state of the art very quickly, but for most of us that means nothing. The real question is, does it work for me right now?

As long as you can do what you want with it, what difference does it make that it is a little outdated? 

Mar 16, 2007 05:10 AM
Link Moser - NH Lakes Region
NH Link Realty LLC - Gilford, NH
My vote is for Remote Desktop. The computer you are connecting to must have Windows XP PROFESSIONAL on it but it has been by far, the most easy to use remote computing program out there. I have tried PCAnywhere,VNC, & Go to My PC and did not find they worked as well. Current versions may be better but at the time, Window's own Remote Desktop was my favorite.
Mar 17, 2007 03:27 AM
Bob Sloop, Consultant, Indianapolis, IN
RS Mortgage Consulting - Indianapolis, IN
Remote all the way, I love it.  Thanks for sharing.
Mar 19, 2007 12:39 AM
Anonymous
Phil Peterson
I know quite a few people who use VNC, Remote Desktop or GoToMyPC to access a program called REST or Real Estate Success Tracker (getrestnow.com). You can use their single user version, run it on your computer at home than control it from anywhere. There's also a multi-user versrion to connect an entire team over the internet. And it's not that web-based junk - you actually get to keep (and control) your own database. 
Apr 18, 2007 04:53 PM
#27
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
Great info.  Thank you for sharing.
Apr 22, 2007 11:31 PM