remote Windows administration – software overview

The administrator of the local network, whose duties include ensuring the stable operation of computers, is well aware of the defections from user to user who are having trouble with something. Moving from one workstation to another, he conducts explanatory work, and sometimes a brief “educational program” to prevent a similar situation in the future.

Despite the fact that the image of the “evil admin” that developed among those who communicated with the system administrator is an exaggeration, there is still some truth in this. If he has to service the local network of a company whose computers are located on several floors, it is possible that by the end of the working day he will feel like a horse after a race.

The administrator’s work will be greatly simplified if he has the ability to remotely control all computers in the local network. By installing special software on each workstation, you can complete the process, configure the system, reboot the computer and much more. As a rule, such a program consists of two parts: server and client (viewer). The first part is installed on a remote machine, the second is installed on the administrator’s computer. When the server is running, the person on whose computer the client part is installed can control the remote PC as much as the capabilities of the program allow him.

Remote Administrator (Radmin)

Developer: Famatech.

Distribution: shareware.

Interface: Russian.

The wide popularity that the Radmin program has received is easy to explain. Firstly, it contains only a minimal set of functions necessary for monitoring a remote computer. Secondly, a positive aspect can be considered the small size of the distribution, which, if necessary, can be sent by mail. Thirdly, the program does not need to be configured: all that is necessary for its functioning is two computers that can communicate with each other over TCP/IP, and an installed server-client pair. It is worth noting that the program is also convenient for managing multiple computers at the same time — you just need to open the right PC and start working with it. Remote Administrator transmits the desktop image in real time, including all user actions: mouse movement, application launch, etc.

Among programs of this kind, an important factor is how fast the image is transmitted from a remote computer. In this matter, Remote Administrator surpasses most of its competitors, and in networks with high data transfer rates, the delay becomes almost imperceptible. If small brakes are still observed, in the program settings, you can reduce the number of colors that will be displayed on the client program screen.

The program can work in several modes: full control, viewing only, telnet, file transfer and shutdown. Files are transferred between computers using a special manager that resembles a standard File Explorer. To protect against unauthorized access, you can set a separate password for working with each PC. The security of information transfer between computers is ensured by 128-bit data encryption. Additional precautions include blocking suspicious IP addresses, as well as delays in case of suspected password brute force. By default, the program uses port 4899, which can be changed in its settings. Using Radmin, you can set access rights to users and groups from trusted domains.

COOL! Remote Control

Developer: Yaosoft.

Distribution: shareware.

Interface: English.

Despite the fact that this program is undeservedly forgotten by developers, it can still compete with Remote Administrator today. According to its capabilities, COOL! Remote Control is almost as good as it is, despite the fact that the latest version of the program is dated 2002. It is very convenient to manage files on a remote computer. In order to view the contents of the disks, you do not need to run any additional applications — the list of files and folders on the remote PC can be seen directly from the main menu of the program. Using the context menu commands, you can immediately delete the file, copy it to your computer or transfer it to a remote one. COOL! Remote Control is especially convenient when working on a local network. Immediately after launch, it scans the network and displays a list of IP addresses of available computers, so the administrator can only select the one from the list.

Such a seemingly simple and necessary option is not available in all programs, and local IP addresses have to be entered manually every time. Another convenience that will be appreciated primarily by those who work with a home network is the ability to connect to a remote computer without a password. The fact is that most remote administration programs have zero password protection. Of course, this additional precaution makes the connection more secure, but if a home user has adapted a program to control a computer that is in the next room and is not connected to the Internet, entering a password is a tedious and unnecessary procedure. Commands for performing the most important tasks are placed directly in the program menu. So, with one click, you can send a remote computer to reboot, change the user, activate sleep mode or turn it off. You can also remotely open the CD/DVD drive tray or close it, restart the server program on the remote computer, hide or, conversely, display the COOL icon! Remote Control in the system tray area.

Symantec pcAnywhere

Developer: Symantec Corporation.

Distribution: shareware.

Interface: English.

This program is of interest, if only because it was made by Symantec. The name of the creator of Norton Antivirus can serve as a guarantee of a quality product, which is once again confirmed when working with pcAnywhere.

Everything in this program indicates that it was made not just to “spy” on someone, but to fully manage all the basic functions of a computer on the network. So, pcAnywhere has the ability to edit the registry of a remote computer, work with the command line, as well as a tool for managing operating system services. Even such a simple operation as file transfer is organized perfectly here — you can not just copy or delete them, but also compare, synchronize, set the order of copying, etc. The drag-and-drop method is also supported. Any program installed on a remote computer can be remotely deleted or stopped. pcAnywhere also has another important function for remote administration — access to the event log. By looking into it, you can follow the user’s actions and understand the cause of the problem.

As for the speed of operation, despite the delay of the transmitted image of the opening menu for a fraction of a second, when working in a local network, square traces do not remain on the screen, for example, from the application that has just been closed. In addition, the speed of updating the desktop image of a remote computer can be increased by reducing the number of colors in the transmitted image. This option will also be useful for reducing network traffic, although it must be admitted that working with pcAnywhere practically does not affect the overall network load in any way, which is easy to see by looking at the statistics of sent and received data. If the system administrator needs to send a message to the user, he can easily communicate with him using the simplest local chat built into pcAnywhere.

All actions that are performed in the program are recorded in a special session manager, so if necessary, you can always look into it and see who performed what operations on the server. There are other functions that will be useful in a large network — for example, restricting access rights to certain categories of users.

When working with remote administration programs, it is worth bearing in mind that they are not friends with antiviruses and firewalls. Therefore, in order to fully work with them, you need to take care of configuring security programs — for example, creating special rules that will not block the work of the client on your computer and the server on a remote PC.


Developer: Rudi De Vos, etc.

Distribution: free.

Interface: English.

This program can be called unique. Moreover, it is not the functions that it performs that are unique, but the fact that they are all available completely free of charge and without any restrictions.

In UltraVNC, you can find almost all the features that commercial remote administration programs offer, and it even surpasses some of them. For example, you can use it to control a remote computer in windowed or fullscreen mode, change the number of colors in the client window, transfer files or send messages using the built-in chat.

When working in windowed mode, a convenient panel with buttons is displayed at the top of the client program, with which you can quickly perform the most frequently used actions. These include executing the Ctrl+Alt+Del command, opening the Start menu, switching from windowed mode to fullscreen and vice versa.

UltraVNC has many useful features for fine-tuning the client. For example, you can work in View Only mode when no actions can be performed from the client computer. This is very convenient when you just want to observe what is being done on a remote computer. If there is no such mode, there is a chance that you accidentally touch the cursor, and the user on the remote PC will realize that he is being monitored.