I’ve been consulting and supporting corporate IT infrastructure for several years now. Lately, much of my work has been in remote desktop and network support, from walking remote users through program operation to installing software and devices. Remote support tools are necessary for almost any IT pro.
I’m sure many of you have used Microsoft’s RDP client to connect to systems. RDP is great for management of servers and systems where there is very little direct user access to the desktop. In my experience though, having access to the user’s desktop and sharing what the user sees is instrumental in solving problems. RDP is hindered in this due to the fact that when you RDP into a machine, the user cannot see the session on their monitor. RDP is also limited to professional versions of Windows and Windows specifically. In a lot of cases, I do not have complete control over the provisioning of systems, and supporting home versions of Windows and also OSX is a must.
This is where joinme.com comes in. It creates a connection to the active console session of the user’s computer, be it any flavor of Windows or OSX. Simply type in joinme.com into your browser of choice, and then have your user do the same. The user will need to click the share option on the joinme.com website. Depending on the browser and browser settings, it will prompt to download or run the joinme program. At this point, have your user run and then click allow to any UAC prompts. When it’s done installing, the joinme toolbar will be displayed at the top of the screen. Simply request from the user the 9-digit number displayed in this toolbar. Type this number into the join field on joinme.com on your computer and click join. Your remote user’s desktop will be displayed inside the browser. If you want control of the user’s desktop? You now have the ability to manipulate their system.
One small caveat to note is UAC enabled systems will freeze the joinme connection anytime a UAC prompt is displayed on the remote user’s computer. If you expect to encounter UAC prompts during your remote session, you can do one of two things. Direct the user to respond to the UAC prompt, and the joinme connection will reestablish. You may also disable UAC which will avoid the freezes completely. Joinme is a free to use service for non-commercial purposes. They do have a pay for service option that among other things offers a more robust application to connect to users’ desktops instead of running inside the browser. Hopefully this helps those of you that are looking for an easy solution to remote support.
By Dustin Fry