7 best remote desktop tools you can try for free

Best remote desktop tools you can try for free

Looking for a fast and free remote desktop tool? We’ve got you covered with the seven best free remote desktop applications for all your troubleshooting and management needs.

Whether you’re working from home, or need to troubleshoot a PC from across the country, having a reliable and secure remote desktop application will make your job undoubtedly easier. You’re going to want a tool that is easy to install, has intuitive features, and is secure to use in your network.

Here is our list of the seven best remote desktop tools:

  1. SolarWinds Dameware EDITORS CHOICE The remote desktop tool built specifically for larger companies and MSPs. Features troubleshooting tools, remote monitoring, and cross-platform remote access.
  2. SolarWinds Take Control Great for smaller companies or MSPs. Features flexible plans, remote registry editing, and simple file transfer.
  3. ConnectWise Control Built for MSPs and is part of the ConnectWise suite. Simple remote capabilities with the option to add automation, scripting, and management with ConnectWise Automate.
  4. Ultra VNC A barebones simple remote desktop tool. A free open-source program that has dozens of community created plugins and add-ons.
  5. Chrome Remote Desktop Ideal for one-off support connections or personal use.
  6. AnyDesk A fast and free remote desktop tool for both inactive and active remote sessions.
  7. Quick Assist A free tool built into Windows 10 that provides quick remote sessions to other Windows 10 machines.

The best remote desktop tools

1. SolarWinds Dameware EDITORS CHOICE

Dameware

At the very top of our list is a remote access tool by SolarWinds called Dameware, which was specifically designed to give sysadmins all the remote assistance features they’d need for their corporate environment.

Dameware is a flexible remote access tool that can be configured either as an on-premises solution or set up as a cloud-based software service. Unlike most remote administration tools, the Dameware agent is compatible with both Windows and Mac making it ideal if you’re expected to administer a mixed OS environment.

Deploying the agent is simple, and can be done by executing a simple MSI package on the target machine. This can be pushed out en masse through GPO or login script and proves to be a convenient tool for admins who manage a larger number of endpoints.

Dameware goes the extra mile providing built-in multifactor authentication, and compatible with smart cards and security pin systems. You can rest easy knowing that your sessions are secured through FIPS 140-2 validated cryptography, and complies with the strict Department of Homeland Security and federal requirements for secure networks.

One of my personal favorite features of Dameware is the troubleshooting tools that are built into the remote client. Intel AMT (Active Management Technology) gives you the ability to recover PCs that have crashed, gone asleep, or are completely turned off. This saves a ton of time and eliminates an added phone call or email while trying to get connected.

Intel AMT is part of a small suite of built-in administrator tools that make Dameware truly more than just another remote desktop application. You’ll have the option to view event logs, see real-time utilization data, and create and edit network users. Dameware also has a Mobile Gateway component that gives technicians the ability to remote into PCs from their Android or iOS devices.

If you’re looking for a reliable remote desktop tool to stand as a pillar of support for your company, Dameware gives you features and scalability to do just that and more. You can test-drive Dameware yourself for free for 14 days using the link below.

SolarWinds Dameware Start 14-day FREE Trial

2. SolarWinds Take Control

Take Control SolarWinds

Take Control is a great remote desktop tool that is geared more towards smaller organizations that need to strike a balance between affordability and efficiency. While Dameware focuses on the large MSPs and enterprise-level networks, Take Control nicely fills the gap for smaller offices and MSPs with a smaller inventory.

Take Control has both attended and unattended support allowing you or your technicians to perform maintenance on your machines passively or actively. The remote desktop application includes similar troubleshooting tools, live chat features, and cross-platform support that Dameware provides.

Connecting remotely is surprisingly fast and averages between five to eight seconds to establish your session. If you’re looking for more advanced support features such as remote registry editing, batch scripting, and session monitoring, Take Control Plus adds more proactive reporting tools and additional features that enhance the productivity and efficiency of your helpdesk. Take Control Plus starts at $45.00 (£35.85) per month with unlimited users.

Whether you’re looking to quickly access a handful of servers remotely, or have a staff you need to support, SolarWinds Take Control has all the features you need, and nothing you don’t.

You can try Take Control for free for a full 90 days.

3. ConnectWise Control

Connectwise-Control-Session

Formerly known as ScreenConnect, ConnectWise Control is a comprehensive remote desktop tool that primarily caters to MSPs, and integrates with a number of other management tools such as PassPortal, ConnectWise Automate, Acronis, and Zendesk.

You can install ConnectWise Control both as a standalone agent to permanently have access to your inventory, or use it to provide single session access for one off remote sessions in a helpdesk setting. This gives you the freedom to toggle between your actively managed PCs and your break-fix clients all in the same dashboard without muddying your inventory.

One the MSI agent is deployed, the PC will automatically populate in your dashboard when installed. You can configure specific MSI packages to automatically put PCs into specific groups or locations inside of ConnectWise Control. Once installed, connecting to a machine is as simple as clicking on the screen share button.

Once you’re connected, you can copy and paste files, copy your clipboard, disable user input, blackout the screen, and even record the session to document procedures and help create new policies on the fly.

If you’re just not getting enough out of ConnectWise Control you can go through an entire marketplace of both free and paid extensions to give you a more customized toolset of features for your remote desktop app.

ConnectWise Automate naturally extends the usefulness and capability of the remote desktop application by giving you extended inventory management features, and additional automation capabilities.

All round, ConnectWise Control is a solid remote desktop application that provides tons of intuitive design elements and customizations. One downside is that the inventory management, scripting, and other premium features are only found in ConnectWise Automate, so you’d need to purchase that application separately if you were looking for those abilities. Nonetheless, ConnectWise Control is a great tool for MSPs and can be downloaded with a free trial.

4. UltraVNC

ultra VNC

This open-source and free remote desktop tool has been on the web since 2005 and has truly stood the test of time. While it certainly doesn’t win any awards for its user interface, it does provide a straightforward and customizable remote desktop application that anyone can use.

UltraVNC is usually integrated within other applications, and some don’t know you can just download and use the raw VNC client to remote into any Windows, Linux, or macOS machine. UltraVNC leaves no room for fluff, making it extremely efficient from a resource perspective.

Like most remote desktop tools, UltraVNC mirrors the workstation you’re connected to and gives you full control of the PC as if you were physically in front of it. While the front end may look antiquated, UltraVNC utilizes industry-standard encryption for all of your remote connections.

While the less tech-savvy may find UltraVNC confusing, network techs will enjoy a wide range of customization options to configure their sessions to their liking. You can dial down settings such as color bit mapping, jpeg quality, and bandwidth usage to improve your connectivity over poor connections.

Since UltraVNC is open-source, you’ll find a wide variety of community-based plugins and added features that can add even more functionality and security to this powerful remote desktop tool. You can download UltraVNC for free on its official website.

5. Chrome Remote Desktop

Chrome Remote Desktop Application

If you’re looking for a remote desktop solution that’s quick and casual, Chrome Remote Desktop is tough to beat. In under five minutes, you can download and run a small MSI file that gives you access to your host machine from virtually anywhere.

After creating a six-digit pin, you’ll have the option to remote into that PC as long as you can sign in to your Google account. Outside of the sign-in process, there isn’t anything more that’s needed to establish a connection. You do have some basic options such as screen resizing, clipboard sync, and input controls.

The major drawback is that you don’t have any advanced administrative features such as registry editing, inventory management, or helpdesk tools. You also won’t be able to remote into your machine if it crashes, gets turned off, or goes to sleep.

If the only thing you need to do is quickly remote into your machine, this is likely the easiest option. Chrome Remote Desktop is completely free and just requires a Google account.

6. AnyDesk

Any Desk Application

If you’re currently using Teamviewer and aren’t happy with its features or performance, AnyDesk might be the alternative you never knew you needed. AnyDesk is built for remote workers and IT support teams who need quick and convenient access to multiple machines.

AnyDesk doesn’t run on VNC or RDP protocol but uses its own unique codec called DeskRT that provides extremely low latency remote sessions. Installation is simple and allows the application to be used on Windows, macOS, Android, and Linux.

While AnyDesk works well on a number of platforms, it is noticeably easy to use on mobile devices. From a desktop, you can remote into either an Android or Apple phone with relative ease. This is a major win for helpdesks who have to support mobile devices and struggle to walk users through specific steps over the phone while troubleshooting.

AnyDesk works under both unattended and interactive access for remote desktop, and supports a host of advanced features such as remote printing, copy and paste file transfer, and strong RSA 2048 encryption.

During testing, AnyDesk performed the best for viewing video remotely and averaged 55 frames per second. If you’ve ever tried to load a video over RDP you’ll know just how impressive that really is.

AnyDesk is free for personal use, and unlike Teamviewer, I have not gotten my session disconnected for being mistaken for commercial use. If you are looking to incorporate AnyDesk into your business, pricing starts at just $10.99 (£8.84) a month.

7. Quick Assist

Quick Assist Remote Application

Lastly, we have the convenient Quick Assist remote desktop app built right into Windows 10. This is a free tool that comes preinstalled in all versions of Windows 10. Quick Assist does exactly what its name implies and was designed to allow you to support someone quickly through a remote session.

This is convenient if you have a family member or friend who is getting stuck with smaller technical issues, or maybe just needs walked through a specific process. After giving the host your six-digit code you’ll be able to see the remote screen and control it if the host allows that option.

Once connected you’ll have full remote access to the session and be able to access the task manager, illustrate annotations, and initiate reboots that will automatically reconnect your session.

Quick Assist isn’t without some significant drawbacks. Currently, you cannot install Quick Assist as an agent for unintended access and must enter a code to initiate a remote session.

Both you and the person you’re connecting to must also have Windows 10, which really limits the scope of who you can support. Finally, you’ll need to have a Microsoft account to generate the six-digit pin, which is a bit annoying if you don’t want to create a new account.

While Quick Assist isn’t the best option, it certainly is convenient when looking to support someone who’s already on a Windows 10 PC.

You can find Quick Assist on your Windows 10 PC by clicking on Start and then searching for Quick Assist.

Conclusion

It’s clear that not all remote desktop tools are created equally. Hopefully, you can find a tool that fits your specific needs. MSPs and larger enterprises will find that SolarWinds Dameware has the best remote tools for scalable remote desktop support with detailed features such as reporting and auditing.

Smaller businesses will enjoy the flexible plans that Take Control offers while still maintaining key remote desktop support tools and customizable options.

Lastly, if you’re just looking to remote into a family or friend’s computer, AnyDesk offers fast low latency connections and remote desktop settings completely for free.

What’s your favorite remote desktop tool? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

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