Remote Access Utilities

By Brian Rhodes, Published on Feb 28, 2012

Issues often arise with surveillance systems located far away. The problem is that it may take more time to travel to the site than to actually fix the issue. Worse, the end user onsite may have a hard time understanding your instructions over the phone. It would be easier to just show them first. In these situations, Remote Access Utilities are very useful technology for integrators and manufacturers to use.

Remote access utilities allow a computer to connect to another computer from a remote location, and 'see' what that computer is doing. There are a variety of these solutions available in the market, and thanks to the 'traditional IT marketplace' driving development, some are considered mature and reliable technologies. In this update, we examine the most commonly used remote support utilities types and compare some attributes of each. 

Common types of Remote Server Access Utilities

The two most common types are:

  • Classic: Remote Desktop Utility (furnished with Microsoft OS)
  • Modern:Browser Based Utilities 

Saavy integrators will find that first pass technical support, small reconfiguration tasks, and system health checking are all efficently handled by these utilities, especially the browser based ones. Other types and methods of remote support utilities exist, but we have limited this update to a general comparasion of the major types being used.

Remote Desktop

Remote desktop is most oftenly used for computers you directly control / administrate over long periods of time. This is because it needs to be manually setup by a skilled technician. The main benefit is the deeper control it provides. The main distadvantge is the difficulty in setting it up for one off support calls.

Remote desktop is typically 'free' for many computers running Microsoft Windows based Operating Systems. 'Remote Desktop', commonly abbreviated 'RDP', is installed by default on 'Professional' and 'Server' versions of software since WindowsXP. The feature is also included with "Vista and Windows 7' versions of the operating system. 

Advantages of Remote Desktop include:

  • Free
  • Already installed on most Windows machines
  • Most client services will transmit through session transparently 
  • Supports native video card resolution
  • Supports audio transmission

Disadvatages of Remote Desktop include:

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

  • Only supports Win OS machines
  • No multiple monitors are supported (Only primary remote client monitor is viewable)
  • Only one active session at a time (Existing user must log off)
  • Every user is a unique user session (Remote client cannot see what you are doing)
  • No web interface
  • No SSL support
  • Requires detailed configuration for use

This free remote support utility is widely available for use, but is limited by the rather heavy technical involvement of the remote user. The fact the remote user has to log out and cannot see what technical support is doing in realtime is also a noted disadvantage. The integrator may find this remote support utility as inexpensive and convienent but too limited for use in every situation.

Brower Based

The trend today is clearly for browser based remote access utilities. If a customer has a problem, they can quickly be setup to connect to PCs around the world. Overwhelmingly, VMS manufacturers use them to speed up support calls.

For those not familiar with these tools, here's a vendor's 90 second demo that overviews what happens:

Browser based products use webrowsers as a 'universal client'. The products in this market segment include GoToAssist, FogCreek Copilot, WebEx Remote Support [link no longer available], and TeamViewer. Each of those programs offer the same basic functionality, but are optimized to perform specific functions more easily. For example, it is possible to use a license of 'GoToMeeting' (a webinar hosting tool) for supporting a remote install (via reversing the presenter), but less end-user configuration or reversing procedures are necessary when using a program like 'GoToAssist' for this purpose. These 'browser based' utilities differs from 'Remote Desktop' in some significant ways:

Advantages of browser based utilities:

  • Web browser based, operable across many different platforms
  • Minimal remote user configuration required to initiate session
  • The end user can see what you are doing while you are logged in
  • Resolution support, color rendering is accurate to remote machine
  • Supports Audio transmission
  • Multi-monitor support is possible
  • Can be configured to encrypt transmission
  • SSL is supported

Disadvatages of browser based utilities:

  • Not free
  • It requires a piece of software overhead to be downloaded on remote machines before use
  • Lagginess on crowded internet connections or taxed machines
  • Rights on user machine are determined by user's profile (no AD support)

This type of utility does not have some of the limitations of 'remote desktop'. For example, thse typically require very little remote technical configuration to initiate. The process for engaging support is as easy as navigating to a webpage and typing in a unique session ID. The remote user has the full benefit of seeing what support is doing in realtime, and controls can be shared back and forth. Initiating a support session is a rather nimble process that does not take much time.

The primary disadvantage of this method is that it costs money. Several popular platforms charge a one-time flat liscense fee, and others charge 'subscription' fees for every month you use the product. Those prices can vary anywhere from one-time fees of several thousand dollars [link no longer available], to monthly fees of several hundred dollars. An interesting offering among fee based utilities is Fog Creek's CoPilot that can be purchased for $5.00 USD per day. Monthly subscription plans are available for this remote support-focused utility, but the casual user can buy the ability only when needed.

Integrators will find that the adoption of a Remote Server Access Utility a great benefit in addressing far-flung technical service support requests.  These utilities are broadly used by many technology companies, including the manfacturers of VMS products. Integrators and end-users alike will benefit from the flexibility of these remote support tools.

Feedback?

Do you make frequent use of these utilities? Do you have a strong preference to a particular product? Why?  Take some time and share your experiences.  Other users appreciate your feedback!

Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Help Security End Users Facing Coronavirus Improve Remote Access on Mar 24, 2020
Many end-users and integrators are struggling with the impact of coronavirus...
Remote Network Access for Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 27, 2020
Remotely accessing surveillance systems is key in 2020, with more and more...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
Use Access Control Logs To Constrain Coronavirus on Apr 09, 2020
Access control users have included capabilities that are not commonly used...
Verkada Access Control Tested on Sep 09, 2020
Verkada raised $80 million earlier in 2020, expanding from video into access...
Remote Access (DDNS vs P2P vs VPN) Usage Statistics 2019 on Oct 25, 2019
Remote access can make systems more usable but also more vulnerable. How are...
"Severely Impacted" Mercury Security 2020 Leap Year Firmware Issue on Jan 17, 2020
One of the largest access controller manufacturers has a big problem:...
Converged vs Dedicated Networks For Surveillance Tutorial on Feb 12, 2020
Use the existing network or deploy a new one? This is a critical choice in...
Access Control Levels and Schedules Tutorial on Sep 29, 2020
Configuring access levels and setting up schedules is central to maintaining...
Vehicle & Long Range Access Reader Tutorial on Jan 21, 2020
One of the classic challenges for access control are parking lots and...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and...
Vehicle Gate Access Control Guide on Mar 19, 2020
Vehicle gate access control demands integrating various systems to keep...
Wireless / WiFi Access Lock Guide on Nov 12, 2019
For some access openings, running wires can add thousands in cost, and...
Mobile Access Control Usage Statistics 2020 on Sep 21, 2020
Most smartphones can be used as access control credentials, but how...
Door Fundamentals For Access Control Guide on Aug 24, 2020
Doors vary greatly in how difficult and costly it is to add electronic access...

Recent Reports

Panasonic Presents i-PRO Cameras and Video Analytics on Oct 19, 2020
Panasonic presented its i-PRO X-Series cameras and AI video analytics at the...
Augmented Reality (AR) Cameras From Hikvision and Dahua Examined on Oct 19, 2020
Hikvision, Dahua, and other China companies are marketing augmented reality...
18 TB Video Surveillance Drives (WD and Seagate) on Oct 19, 2020
Both Seagate and Western Digital recently announced 18TB hard drives...
Watrix Gait Recognition Profile on Oct 16, 2020
Watrix is the world's only gait recognition surveillance provider IPVM has...
Intel Presents Edge-to-Cloud Ecosystem for Video Analytics on Oct 16, 2020
Intel presented its processors and software toolkit for computer vision at...
Best Manufacturer Technical Support 2020 on Oct 16, 2020
5 manufacturers stood out as providing the best technical support to ~200...
Microsoft Azure Presents Live Video Analytics on Oct 15, 2020
Microsoft Azure presented its Live Video Analytics offering at the September...
Worst Manufacturer Technical Support 2020 on Oct 15, 2020
4 manufacturers stood out as providing the worst technical support to ~200...
Clorox Announces, Then Pulls, Fever Camera on Oct 15, 2020
For almost one week, Clorox was marketing fever cameras. The booming...
Faulty Hikvision Fever Cam Setup at Mexico City Basilica and Cathedral on Oct 14, 2020
Donated Hikvision fever cameras (claiming screening of 1,800 people/min. with...
Directory of 209 "Fever" Camera Suppliers on Oct 14, 2020
This directory provides a list of "Fever" scanning thermal camera providers...
Avigilon UMD / UAD Tested on Oct 14, 2020
Avigilon's Unusual Activity Detection and Unusual Motion Detection claim to...
Longse Promoting Hikvision Partner Fullhan Chip Based Cameras on Oct 14, 2020
With Huawei HiSilicon production being shut down at TSMC, camera...
Meridian & Goodview (BEMS Relabeller) Temperature Screening Tested on Oct 13, 2020
A lot of temperature tablets look exactly alike and that is because they use...
Monitoring Alarm Systems From Home - Innovation or Danger? on Oct 13, 2020
Remote monitoring by alarm companies since COVID-19 is bringing cost savings...