Work From Home Securely Without Breaking The Bank

Posted By: dstp | Published: 04-26-2020

Remote Desktop Software

I have been using Remote Desktop Software for many years to support my own clientele. Recently, due to the Global Pandemic, clients are asking me to recommend a software package for them. I decided to post this page to document some of the best options in the hope that it may prove useful to you.

You won't find an exhaustive list of features and comparisons. There are other sites where you can spend hours pouring over reviews and minutia. Here you are guided by an I.T. professional who has installed, configured and tested all of the remote desktop options mentioned here (And many others over the years). This post will save you time and help you avoid serious security mistakes.

When evaluating Remote Desktop Software, SECURITY needs to be at the top of your list. Performance second and finally features and pricing. The options reviewed here are geared to using remote desktop to work from home and access one or more remote computer(s) reliably without breaking the bank.

Important features to consider

Connection Method and Security features: An important consideration is how you will connect to your remote computer. Most modern Remote Desktop Software handle the details of connecting clients to hosts. Others require you to configure your Router/Firewall and manage your own Dynamic DNS.

Free Version: A number of companies offer a free version of their product. These free versions are a great way to test out the product before handing over your money, and in many cases may be all you need.

Performance: Refers to how quickly the remote computer responds to your input. Most of the free VNC Remote Control packages available perform poorly. Unfortunately screen refresh rates are painfully slow. Imagine typing a document and the letters appearing 2 - 3 seconds after you type them! Or minimizing a Window takes 3-5 seconds to complete. It's like slow motion. The options presented on this page all perform acceptably, with Teamviewer being in a class all it's own.

Reliability: Suppose you simply need to connect for a minute and look up an email or other document on a remote computer and instead of being greeted with your remote desktop an error dialog tells you some error has occurred. While this can happen it should not happen regularly.

Subscription Model: Most companies in the last few years have switched to a subscription model. This means paying monthly for access to their software. The main benefit is having continuous access to both feature and security updates. Security on the internet is a moving target and having regular updates ensures that you don't fall behind on security patches, keeping your remote desktop and your data out of hackers hands

Microsoft Remote Desktop | Windows hosts only

If the computer you want to remotely access, the "Remote Host" has a Pro version of Windows installed, Remote Desktop is included at no extra charge. Pro is not required for the "Local Client" computer used to connect to the host. Windows Home edition will do. There is also a client for iOS and Android. The iOS version works really well.

There are a few drawbacks however. You have to configure Dynamic DNS if the remote IP is not static, and configure port forwarding on the Host network.

You need to be aware of the security issues when opening your network to RDP. Security experts recommend the use of a VPN or other means to ensure security. One program that can help mitigate brute force attacks is named RDS-Knight. And you must ensure that your passwords are very secure.


The following transcript shows the need for an extra secure password.

Security Now PDF Page 13

Microsoft Remote Desktop really does work well and is perfectly suitable if you have the time and technical aptitude to configure DNS, Port Forwarding and security. The host computer requires Windows Professional.

Chrome Remote Desktop | Windows / Mac / Linux

Chrome remote desktop is a free offering from Google. At the moment the free version enables you to remotely access up to 100 computers. That is very generous. It requires a Google account (gmail account) and installs as an extension to the chrome browser. You can use it to access both Windows and Mac Computers

It's feature set is small but makes it simple to work from home. A big plus for me is Google's security. Because it uses a Google account it can be protected with second factor authentication and an audit log of sign-in history. At the time of this writing it includes clients for Windows, iOS and Android.

Chrome Remote Desktop

Splashtop | PC and Mac

Years ago, when I first looked at Splashtop I was underwhelmed. Jump ahead 6 years and it has matured nicely. It's product line is logically organized and you can ask your questions via their online real-time chat support. While they do have a free version it is limited to your local network? So not super useful, but they do offer a 7 day trial.

Creating an account was simple and installing both host and client components went smoothly. Remote screen performance was respectable with both ends on high bandwidth connections.

Some notable features include drag and drop file transfer, share desktop, chat, session recording, and dual monitor support.

I spent some time with their online support via chat and had all my questions answered and was able to add an extra 7 days to my trial version including their SOS product. In view of their competitive pricing, impressive feature set and good results after 2 weeks of testing, Splashtop should be at the top of your list.


Remote Utilities | Windows Hosts Only / Mac and Linux in Beta

Remote Utilities is unique in that it offers a couple of methods of remote desktop access. It's own Full control and Microsoft RDP. This is an interesting option because the program handles the connection details while using Microsoft Remote Desktop! In addition it enables you to view only, do file transfers, remote registry and more. They also generously provide a free version for up to 10 host computers and their paid versions are competitively priced. They have not yet moved to the subscription model and that might appeal to some.

Remote Utilities

LogmeIn | PC and Mac Hosts and Clients

Years ago Logmein gained a loyal user base because they offered a free version. I personally made great use of it. Then one faithful day they announced the end of free. A Pro licence was required. At that time a 1 year Pro license cost $49.00. A one year licence today will run you CAD $449.00 for access to only 2 host computers.

As I write this, I have chrome remote desktop and logmein installed on the same remote PC and chrome is more responsive. While Logmein provides many extra features such as white board, dedicated file transfer, blank screen and others, it's performance could be improved on.

In my opinion to truly get the most out of Remote Desktop Software you need the remote screen to be responsive enough so as to forget you are actually working on a remote computer. It appears that Logmein has opted for feature bloat instead of great performance. So while they do offer many extras such as 1 TB of storage, Lastpass and others if you don't require those then Teamviewer or Splashtop provides a better value.


Teamviewer | PC and Mac

I have been using Teamviewer for the bulk of my remote support work, both with Unattended access and On-Demand since 2012. It has been rock solid and performance is the best in class.

Without exaggeration I have used Teamviewer for a least 1000 support calls and I do not recall it letting me down. And in head to head comparisons with other options on this page with the exception of RDP it always outperforms.

Teamviewers feature set is impressive and they do offer a free version for non commercial use. Go ahead and put it to the test with their free version today.

Teamviewer Free Version

Product Free Option Relay Subscription Performance

Stars 1-5
Microsoft RDP YES NO Free 5
Chrome Remote Desktop YES YES Free 4
Splashtop NO YES Subscription 4
Remote Utilities YES YES One Time 3
Logmein NO YES Subscription 3
Teamviewer YES YES Subscription 5