If you've ever managed or had to deal with more than one computer
system, then you've undoubtedly wanted to be able to control one
remotely at one time or another. In my job, my staff and I manage
about a thousand computer systems (servers and workstations). Our
staff is small and busy, and even taking the time to walk over to
a local system can sometimes be a hassle. There is so much to do
and no time to do it in.
On top of that, our systems are spread all over the country, in a
dozen states on the east and west coast. There is no possible way
we could manage those computers effectively without some kind of
help. And if you've ever attempted to talk a user through an
operating system installation or a debug session, then you will
understand that this just does not work in a corporate
Fortunately, we found one of the most useful products available
anywhere at any cost. This little gem is called PcAnywhere, and it
is sold by Symantec (the vendor most famous for it's antivirus
PcAnywhere allows my staff to "take over" a system, just as if
they were sitting at the keyboard and staring at the monitor.
Since PcAnywhere does depend upon the operating system, it cannot
be used to control the system boot and console, but it can do just
about anything else imaginable.
Thus, if a user has an error displayed on his screen, we can
connect and see exactly what it says (and often what the user
did). This saves countless hours of attempting to piece together
what happened based upon a frazzled user's spotty notes of the
occurrence, or of running over to the users machine to see it for
ourselves before he did something else.
You can use the file download and upload facility to transfer
files easily and quickly, which is handy for grabbing files and
performing installations. You can even chat with the person on the
monitor in a separate window (I've never done this but saw it in
PcAnywhere works whether or not the machine is logged in, and it
works very well on Windows NT, 2000 and XP (and I assume at least
the more advanced Windows 9x operating systems). You have some
special buttons to issue the CONTROL-ALT-DELETE sequence when
necessary, and you can even reboot or shutdown the machine if
Another feature that works very well is the many security options.
You can tighten down the program (and it's very powerful so you
probably want to restrict it very well) as much as you want, and
you have the choice of several different encryption schemes and
security models. Choose what fits your requirements best.
On the downside, PcAnywhere does use a few resources, and when it
is active (used remotely) the user may very well notice a
slowdown. The older versions were a little unstable, but since
version 9 we have noticed no problems of any kind with the program.
One caution: PcAnywhere must be made very secure as it truly gives
someone control over a system. Choose your security well and be
sure it is enforced.
I could go on for hours about the usefulness of this program in
the corporate environment. It has so many useful features that it
really boggles the mind. I would highly recommend it if you have a
need for remote control.
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