Solve computer issues using Remote Assistance

Run into computer problems and don't know how to get help? You can ask an expert to remotely connect to you over the internet.
Many of us may have had our computer suffer from a hardware or software problem. Usually the way out is to either call a computer expert over or take the system to the nearest service centre. However, you can easily get help for common issues using a remote connection.

Both Windows and MAC have built-in remote assistance features that allow you to share control of your desktop/laptop remotely with an expert over the Internet, who can then examine and solve the issue.

WINDOWS PCS

The Remote Assistance feature first appeared in Windows XP. To enable this feature, go to the Control Panel > System and in the window that opens up, click on the Remote Tab. Check the box that says 'Allow Remote Assistance Invitations'. You can invite an expert you know to connect to your system via a secure remote connection by sending an email or by using Windows Messenger.

Once connected, the expert will be able view your desktop screen, control your mouse and chat with you side-by-side in the remote assistance window. Note that you will need to share control of your system with the expert by clicking on the 'Take Control' button on top (a security feature). Once the expert solves your problem, you can disconnect the remote assistance session and start using your system.

MAC

On a MAC, there are two ways to provide remote control of a system for assistance. The first (and simpler) method is by using iChat/Messages. Just add the user to your chat list, start a conversation and select 'Screen Share Enabled' from the Video menu on top.

The second way is to go to System Preferences > Sharing. Check the box that says 'Screen Sharing' and click on the computer settings button. Check both the options in the pop-up window. You will also need to specify a password for accessing your system. The expert will be required to enter the password to connect to your system. The one issue with this method is that it is really easy to use over a local network, but if the expert is in another location, you need to know how to configure your networking devices (port forwarding).

WEBSITES

TEACHPARENTSTECH.ORG
This website has a collection of howto videos depicting various day-today used programs and functions of a PC/MAC. You can view the videos and even email them to less tech savvy family members or friends.

LIFEHACKER.COM
Lifehacker has a dedicated section (http://goo.gl/hA0jY) of easy-to-understand & emailable articles that feature step-by-step explanations of how to go about setting up a new device or perform various functions on a PC/MAC.

HELP THROUGH A BROWSER
CHROME REMOTE DESKTOP
Google's Chrome browser offers a free add-on called 'Chrome Remote Desktop' — it allows remote control of one computer by another irrespective of the operating system. Both the systems just need to have Chrome with the add-on installed. It generates an authentication code on the host computer, which has to be entered in the remote computer to be able to get secure remote access.

SOFTWARE TEAM VIEWER

This multi-platform (Windows, MAC, Linux) software allows remote control, collaboration as well as file sharing between two connected computers. It is free to download for non-commercial use, you can download iOS and Android apps and it also secures the remote connection using 256-bit encryption. Get it from : www.teamviewer.com

CROSSLOOP

It offers an unlimited connection to another computer with the free version and also allows for a remote reboot. You can get an Android app for remote access plus perform unlimited file transfers between connected computers. Works with (and between) Windows and MAC. Get it from : www.crossloop.com

LOGMEIN FREE

This offers remote control for Windows or MAC from other computers or iOS devices. Using LogMeIn, you can also remotely wake up a computer from sleep. The free version uses 256-bit encryption for remote connection but does not allow file transfers. However, you can still use remote access to open and view files. Get it from : http://secure.logmein.com

MIKOGO

Mikogo offers many more features than just remote control of a computer. It offers session recording, multi-monitor support as well as an option to pause the session. The free account only allows for 14 days of trial usage. (It costs $13/month for the basic plan) Get it from : www.mikogo.com

JOIN.ME

Join.me allows access and control of a remote computer via a web browser. The remote PC is required to install a small software that gives you an access code. The access code allows anyone to connect via the Join.me website. The remote PC can then share control, chat or even set up a voice call over the internet. Get it from : http://join.me

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