Help Desk technicians sometimes can’t get sufficient cooperation or comprehension from end users to enable them to investigate problems. Often, it is just simpler to gain direct access to the problematic device and investigate the problem without the user’s involvement. Similarly, checking for unauthorized applications or updating software on remote computers is a task that a central support team can perform better with direct remote access.
Remote Management and Monitoring tools (RMM) enable Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and IT departments to solve problems and manage remote devices much more efficiently than could be delivered through site visits and local technicians. RMM software liberates the IT support function from being divided between local offices. A centralized technical support department can now be located anywhere in the world, or stationed around the globe at regional centers to always provide round-the-clock support.
The need for remote management and monitoring tools is varied and ranges from software vendors supporting the general public with problems, to multinational MSPs that give global support to some of the world’s largest corporations.
Global support services are essential to ensure the successful operations of any IT-dependent business. That support team cannot be relied on without efficient and comprehensive technical tools. That means, a successful support team is only as good as the RMM tools that it uses.
In this review, we will look at the best remote monitoring and management tools that are available on the market today. We have found eight that we feel we could happily recommend.
The best RMMs
Here is our list of the eight best remote management and monitoring tools:
- SolarWinds N-Central (FREE TRIAL) Runs on a dedicated server and requires a Windows server. Tracks the performance of networks, servers, Web services, Microsoft Office 365 applications, and email systems, on client sites and includes NetPath
- Dameware Remote Everywhere (FREE TRIAL) A remote support system suitable for Help Desk technicians
- Paessler PRTG (FREE TRIAL) A server, application, and network monitor that can track events on remote sites
- SolarWinds RMM Part of a set of tools aimed at MSPs
- Comodo One A free, Cloud-based RMM with paid extras
- ConnectWise Automate An RMM that features task automation
- Kaseya VSA A comprehensive suite of remote network and server management tools
- Pulseway RMM Part of a Cloud-based suite aimed at MSPs
You can read more about each of these tools in the following sections.
N-Central is an acquisition of SolarWinds. The new owner added on some of its award-winning infrastructure monitoring tools to the original IT support software. This results in the requirement for two servers in order to install N-Central. The first of these should be a bare server because the core N-Central system has its own integrated operating system. The second server should have the Windows Server operating system – this hosts the SolarWinds system monitoring software.
This RMM tracks the performance of networks, servers, Web services, Microsoft Office 365 applications, and email systems, on client sites. A standard SolarWinds tool included with N-Central is NetPath, which shows the health of links from one point to another on a connection. This information is vital to remote support staff who need to know that their own connection into the client site is not introducing performance interference.
Other key modules in the package include an Endpoint Security Manager, with patch management and configuration management. All tasks can be scheduled and many routine management jobs can be automated with N-Central. You can get a 30-day free trial of N-Central.
Dameware is on-premises IT support software that installs on Windows and Windows Server environments. The software is charged for per agent and the Dameware system is offered at two levels of service. The lower package is called Dameware Mini Remote Control and the upper package is called Dameware Remote Support. The extra features of the Remote Support package are user management and software license tracking. The upper tool also has a constant connection testing facility to the remote site that is based on Ping and Traceroute.
With both packages you get a remote access system that enables technicians to access user devices directly. This facility can also be used to run scripts and automate data gathering and problem resolution tasks. The system is able to access devices running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, and iOS.
Connections are secured by Transport Layer Security and it is possible to enforce two-factor authentication for end-user access. Both Dameware packages can be tested on a trial basis.
Dameware is now available on the Cloud. Dameware Remote Everywhere has the same functionality as Dameware Mini Remote control, but you don’t need to install any software on premises. You can access the system through a browser on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS and through an app on Android and iOS mobile devices. This service is also available for a 14-day free trial.
Paessler PRTG is a network, server, and application monitor that has a few special features that make it a good choice for some remote management situations. The system doesn’t include any remote control functions, but it is able to track events on remote sites. The tool would be suitable for a multi-site organization that wants to centralize its IT support functions in one location.
An interesting feature of the Paessler charging structure means that this monitoring system would also be suitable for MSPs. The company doesn’t segregate its charges by the company which owns the site that the software is used for. That is, an MSP can use the same license to manage the sites of client companies with PRTG.
The system is composed of a series of monitors, which are called “sensors.” If you install a remote sensor on a client site, that installation counts as one of your sensor allowances. PRTG is charged for in bands of sensors and you can decide which of the sensors in the package you want to activate as part of that allocation. You can also implement the same sensor several times over – with each instance counting as one of your paid-for allowances. The cost-per-sensor of PRTG reduces with the higher allowance bands, so by becoming a bulk buyer of PRTG, you can acquire the monitoring system at a cheaper price per site than any of your clients would pay.
The dashboard of PRTG is completely customizable and you can set up different user accounts. Thus, you could even act as an agency for your clients, allowing them to get direct access to the monitors for their sites.
You can install the PRTG software on Windows Server, and check it out with a 30-day free trial that has no sensor limit.
SolarWinds is a very successful producer of infrastructure monitoring tools and the company has an entire division dedicated to tools to support MSPs.
The SolarWinds MSP tool suite includes the SolarWinds RMM module. You don’t have to buy the other tools in the SolarWinds MSP kit bag in order to deploy the RMM tool.
This tool is specifically designed to facilitate remote access to devices both manually and through automated processes. The remote control features of SolarWinds RMM would be suitable for support staff who need to explore an individual remote computer. The automated remote management processes will help the MSP update software, firmware, and operating systems or introduce new applications to remote devices in bulk. Those mass device monitoring functions include remote antivirus management and patch management.
The console for the service is web-based, making it operating system-neutral. The service is able to access any operating system including computers, mobile devices, servers, and network equipment. This tool is also able to track VM components and access virtual terminals.
The technician dashboard looks very busy. This is because all of the control features that a support technician needs should all be visible at once. This includes a replication of the Desktop of the remote device, a command prompt, and a chat window that enables the tech to communicate with the device’s user.
Management functions include a system monitoring tool that will alert the support team if there are communication problems on the remote network.
The companion modules that make up the rest of SolarWinds MSP are a Risk Intelligence module for remote site security monitoring, the SolarWinds Mail Assure module and the SolarWinds Backup module, which enable you to offer data guard services to clients. The MSP Manager includes administrative tools for MSP team leaders and SolarWinds Take Control is a set of diagnostic tools. Together, the entire MSP toolset provides an IT service management (ITSM) suite, but the RMM service also works as a standalone package.
SolarWinds RMM is available on a 30-day free trial, as are the other SolarWinds MSP utilities.
Comodo is a security software company and it has come up with an interesting offer for remote management. Comodo One is a free RMM tool. However, the company uses this excellent online service as a teaser in order to sell its connection security products. All of those security features are paid add-ons and you wouldn’t conduct any business over the internet without such protection.
As a Cloud-based service, the console can be accessed through a browser from anywhere and you don’t need to worry about maintaining the software or buying in the right host with the right operating system. The service can monitor WANs, LANs, Cloud-based resources, and hybrid systems. The monitoring system can access Windows, Linux, Mac OS, and mobile devices.
Key modules in the Comodo One package are a remote management module and a remote control utility. Remote system monitoring features include a topology mapper, a network performance monitor, a risk assessment utility, a system audit and inventory manager, and a policy compliance facility. The system monitor constantly guards the remote system with 18 recursive system security and performance checks.
Other features include a mobile device manager, a mobile applications manager, and an automated patch manager. Extra security options include add-on services such as automated data backup, Cloud storage, DDoS protection, and DNS services.
As the name of this tool suggests, ConnectWise Automate is all about automating system management tasks. This Cloud-based service is charged for by subscription, with a rate per console account. This means it would be good for an independent freelance support technician as well as for a global multinational.
The network, server, and software monitor can check on any system anywhere in the world, which makes this a great remote monitoring system. Remote management features include license management, patch management, configuration control, and software update services. You can create standard software packages for user groups and remotely set up new endpoints for onboarding new staff. This capability also extends to mobile device management. A scripting language built into the system enables you to customize automated monitoring and set up routines.
The system includes a self-service mechanism to enable new staff to enroll themselves and trigger system and software access routines. A self-service user account system also enables end users to perform straightforward admin tasks, such as resetting passwords. A remote control utility enables technicians to intervene manually when things go wrong. This comprehensive RMM can be tested on a 14-day free trial.
Kaseya VSA is a remote management and monitoring system that is offered on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model from the Cloud. The charging structure is based on the number of supported endpoints, so the service is very scalable.
The system monitoring service makes constant checks on the infrastructure on client sites. The technical support department gets notified by alerts when anything goes wrong, so that they can fix problems before Help Desk complaint calls start.
Remote system management tools include the automation of tasks, such as onboarding users. Software installation, license usage tracking, and patch management are also tasks that are automated by the Kaseya VSA system.
A digital documentation platform module, called AssetIQ enables you to set up a knowledge base, training pages, and even standardized workflow scripts for support technicians. These scripts can be accessed directly by users to create an automated Help Desk function and reduce the time that your human support team needs to dedicate to routine requests.
A remote access module, called Live Connect gives support technicians access to fix problems and also carries automated data gathering and problem resolution scripts to user endpoints.
You can get a 14-day free trial of Kaseya VSA. If you are an MSP, you should also consider Kaseya Business Management System, which is a billing and SLA-tracking module. This is also available for a 14-day free trial.
Pulseway was developed as a product that would be an excellent choice for MSPs. This Cloud-based service is divided into three modules: Pulseway RMM, Pulseway PSA, and Pulseway Antivirus.
The tool can monitor devices running Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. Pulseway is great for monitoring Web services and it is also useful for keeping on top of VMWare, Citrix, and Hyper-V virtualizations. Services available as add-ons include a Cloud data backup service and Web server protection.
The RMM module is the main workhorse of the package. It includes network and server monitoring functions that are based on the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). Other features include workflow and script-based task automation, configuration control, patch management, software installation routines, and update management.
The PSA module is aimed at client account management including progress tracking, policy enforcement, and auditing for SLA and security standard compliance.
The group plan is called Team, which can also be installed on premises. Extra features of the Team plan include technician work allocation and monitoring functions for group leaders.
The service is charged for on a subscription basis per monitored endpoint and it is free to monitor just two endpoints. The dashboard for the service is available through a Web browser and there is also an app for mobile devices. The online version is available on a 14-day free trial.
Selecting remote management and monitoring software
The best match to your RMM requirements will depend on whether you are an independent technician offering on-call support services, an MSP, or an in-house Help Desk. The options on our list provide examples of support software that would be great for any of these situations.
You can take advantage of the free trials and limited free versions of the tools on our list to give several of them a test without risking any of your budget. You may well find that a number of the options on the list are suitable for your site, in which case only a trial will help you narrow down your choice.
Do you already deploy remote management and monitoring software? Which package did you choose? Leave a message in the Comments section below and share your experience with the community.