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13 top remote desktop applications to use in 2021

Remote desktop software makes life easier, allows a technician to remotely fix your computer or access your office workspace from a home computer.

Published: August 2, 2021 By Darina Shramko

Top remote desktop app to use in 2021st

Did you know that your laptop can be repaired in real-time by a specialist who is thousands of kilometers away? No, no, this is not fantasy and not a teleport.

Thanks to the remote desktop software, you become omnipotent! Any doors will open in front of you: your friend from Australia can reinstall Windows for you; you can legally “get into” your sister's computer or show photos to relatives in real-time − without sending files via messenger!

Sounds cool, you agree?

Today you will learn what remote access is and how it works. I also tested all possible utilities to choose the top free remote desktop software for you. I can't wait to tell you everything I've learned, so let's get started!

 


Remote Desktop Software
Operation System Supported
Price
Security
Windows, macOS, Linux, Android,  iOS, FreeBSD, Raspberry Pi, Chrome OS
Free for personal use
TLS-1.2 with authenticated encryption. Every connection between AnyDesk-Clients is secured with AES-256
Windows, OS X, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, iOS
Free for personal use
Two-factor authentication and protect the data with 256-bit AES encryption
Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS, Chrome OS, Linux
Free
All remote sessions are AES encrypted over a secure SSL connection, which means your data is protected while you remotely access your computer
Microsoft NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 10, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019
Free
The app gateway uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt communications and prevents the system hosting the remote desktop protocol services from being directly exposed to the public Internet.
macOS
Free
Screen sharing on a Mac is completely safe. The only risks that screen sharing poses are related to giving access to control your computer to the wrong person.
Windows, Linux, macOS, AIX, HP-UX, Solaris
Free for personal use
All connections are encrypted end-to-end, and by default, remote computers are protected by a password (Home subscriptions) or by system login credentials (Professional and Enterprise subscriptions).
Unix, Linux, Raspberry Pi, macOS
Free for personal use
Remmina supports SSH tunnels, proxies, and RDP gateways that all help to add layers of security.
Microsoft Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, iOS
30-day free trial,
$79/per month,
$119/per month,
$149/per month
Connection to the Atera environment is via SSL/TLS cryptographic protocols, using global step-up certificates, ensuring that users have a secure connection from their browsers.
Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux
Free for computer range with 1 technician,
starts at $10 /per month
Any communication between the Remote Access Plus server and agent is completely secured with an SSL certificate bundled along with the product package.
Windows, macOS, Linux. Both sides of the connection can also be supported by mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows 10 Mobile.
The 15-day free trial period,
starts at $145/per year
All data connections are encrypted with SSL of 256-bit end-to-end AES encryption, and above all, end-user applications are digitally signed by means of a VeriSign Certificate, which verifies the connection's integrity.
Microsoft Windows, Linux, iOS, Android
The 15-day free trial period,
starts at €12/per month
The app use two-factor authentication, SSL certification, and compatibility with all major anti-virus software.
Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android
14-days free trial period,
starts at $19/per month
Keeping data and clients safe with sophisticated encryption and multifactor authentication.
Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux
14-days free trial period,
Starts at €332
Dameware Remote Everywhere sessions are sheltered by a proprietary communication protocol with guaranteed global security by AES using a 256-bit cipher when establishing of new or during the existing session. The key exchange is protected by an SSL based in AES-CBC with TLS 1.2. All commands, including keyboard and mouse strokes, file transfers, and clipboard information, are digitally signed.


What is remote desktop software?

Remote desktop software is a convenient and reliable way to remote access a computer out of your physical reach.

Such applications demand over the past decade, but the coronavirus pandemic has taken them to a new level. Thanks to open-source remote desktop software, quarantined meetings were held, and business issues resolve.

Agree this is very convenient: you do not need to take your computer with you on a trip after all business issues can resolve by clicking on the application icon. You might be working remotely from anywhere in the world!


How does a remote desktop work?

A console and agent are required for the remote access application to function correctly.

Let's take a closer look at what it is.

So, the console needs to display a window on the device you control.

The agent is a background process that is invisible to the user of the remote device. Installing an application on a device means that the device owner must allow the installation of the remote desktop agent and its launch.

Today we will also take a look at cloud-based remote desktop systems. The essence of such applications is that the console program is available online. Despite the online access, the agent program must still install on the remote computer. Without this, cloud-based remote access systems will not function correctly.

The secret to success is in the correct console and agent settings. If done correctly, the user can decide their work moments remotely, play video games with friends or show photos to relatives from the other end of the earth − the main thing is that the Internet connection is fast. Well, that doesn't sound so difficult, does it?

So we got acquainted with the principles of operation of remote access applications. It's time to find out which application you can and should use for working remotely!


What is the best remote desktop software?

The remote desktop market is cosmic, so choosing a good and reliable application was not an easy task, I confess. I have thoroughly researched every remote desktop connection software and selected the best, convenient, and practical apps for you to make your life easier!

There are many applications on the market, but not all have passed my rigorous selection. Many of the existing apps on the IT market contain vulnerabilities and malware, so I chose the remote desktop tools for a long time. You can be sure that every application in my rating is safe and reliable. Well, let's get started!

AnyDesk

The first place in my top 13 best remote desktop applications receives AnyDesk − a freeware application from the AnyDesk Software GmbH.  Millions of satisfied users leave positive comments about using AnyDesk and recommend this application to anyone looking for an easy and quick way to get remote access to a computer.

It’s a great app for remote access. This app works very fast, and you can even play games on another PC! It is an actively developed application, so are some bugs may appear. But this is my favorite app. And one of the most significant benefits is backward compatibility with older versions.

- John McCaughey, AnyDesk user

With AnyDesk, you can access files from anywhere in the world, as well as connect friends to your desktop. By the way, the app is free for personal use!

All you need is to download the app and launch it. On the main page, you will see the ID of your desktop, which you need to tell the addressee if you want another user to access your desktop.

If you want to connect to another person's computer, ask him for the desktop ID and enter it in the Remote Desk and click the Connect. The connection will be established, and you will be able to control another person's computer in real-time.

AnyDesk interface


Advantages:
Disadvantages:
  • The application is free for personal use,
  • Remote access with a lot of possibilities directly during the connection session for both parties,
  • Separate file transfer mode,
  • Chat between the parties to the connection,
  • Maintaining the history of sessions,
  • Ability to configure uncontrolled access without confirmation on a remote computer,
  • Remote printer,
  • Automatic detection of computers in the local network,
  • Session history,
  • TCP tunneling.
  • The app requires an uninterrupted Internet connection,
  • Possible problems with the server (for example, it is blocked).

TeamViewer

It's a software package for remotely controlling computers and exchanging files between devices. TeamViewer develops by a TeamViewer GmbH company from Germany. The application works on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android operating systems.

TeamViewer is free for non-commercial use, which makes it available to most users. As with AnyDesk, you need to download the application and launch it.

TeamViewer website main page

By far, TeamViewer is the most popular remote access app out of all the existing ones. Just imagine: this app installs over two billion times!

TeamViewer is free for personal use, but if you are a business owner and want to use the application for business purposes, you will have to pay about $25 per month. The app developers offer several payment plans so everyone will find a suitable option.

Choosing the TeamViewer plan

I like that the TeamViewer developers care about the security of their users, so they use two-factor authentication and protect the data with 256-bit AES encryption. So robust protection prevents cyber threats and protects your data during a remote session.


Advantages:
Disadvantages:
  • Most popular remote desktop app with intuitive user interface,
  • Reliable methods of protecting user data,
  • The app works great on connections with limited bandwidth.
  • The more popular the product, the more desirable it is for cybercriminals,
  • The free version sometimes stops the use and switches the user to the commercial version.

Chrome Remote Desktop

If you are an active Google Chrome user, I suggest combining business with pleasure − start using the freeware remote access tool right in your browser! To do this, you need to install the extension. No registration or confirmation of your identity! This app is free to use for both business and personal purposes.

Chrome Remote Desktop app

Image source – chrome.google.com

The application works with any operating system. All you need is to open Google Chrome. For owners of smartphones on the Android or iOS platform, a separate application provides.

The extension is safe as it protects communications by the HTTPS protocol. For example, paying for online purchases and securing your credit card also is done in HTTPS, so the app is reliable.


Advantages:
Disadvantages:
  • The app is free for both business and non-commercial use,
  • The application is built into the Google Chrome browser, so no additional registration is required ─ the extension works through a standard Google account,
  • The app protects data via HTTPS protocol.
  • To use this application, you need to have a Google account

Microsoft Remote Desktop

Microsoft Remote Desktop interface

Microsoft keeps up with Google Chrome and offers users the option of remote desktop access. This feature is available on Windows Professional, Windows Enterprise, or Windows Server. If you have a smartphone on the Windows Mobile platform, you also have the option of getting remote access.

Good news for gamers − you can use Xbox One not only as a set-top box but also as an opportunity to remote control your desktop!

The utility is free and suitable for home use. For business, I wouldn’t recommend this tool due to its limited functionality.

Perhaps the advantage of this utility is its easy integration into your computer's operating system.


Advantages:
Disadvantages:
  • The extension is completely free for both personal use and commercial purposes,
  • Free to use to access 10 devices,
  • The application is integrated into the operating system of your computer,
  • Managed through Group Policy Usage.
  • Often exposed to hacker attacks,
  • Limited functionality for business,
  • There isn’t chat,
  • Only one session can initiate at a time.

Screen Sharing for MacOS

For macOS users, there is remote desktop software – Screen Sharing.

Screen Sharing option under macOS system preferences

Image source – ithinkdiff.com

I think this is the easiest way to establish a remote connection between two Mac computers. You don't need any third-party apps for this − everything is built-in into the system.

To connect to a remote computer, you need to search for “Screen Sharing” in Spotlight search and launch the selected program. In the window that appears, enter the Apple ID of the remote computer or its username if it is in the contact list on your computer. After that, you need to send a connection request, after which the connection establishes. Very simple and convenient, do you agree with me?

Upon receipt of the request, the server-side user can agree to controls the computer or consent only to passive monitoring.


Advantages:
Disadvantages:
  • The application is built into the macOS operating system,
  • The utility is free,
  • Standard functionality is suitable for home use.
  • The application is available only for macOS users,
  • The utility is not suitable for businesses and organizations.

Real VNC

Real VNC is popular remote access software. This app is available on many operating systems and is highly stable and reliable. The utility is really in demand among employees of organizations, so the commercial version of the program paid. However, if you want to use the utility at home, it will be free. The free version has a limit of five computers and three users.

RealVNC logo

Image source – realvnc.com

Real VNC is very easy to use. First, you need to install on the computer the server side, set a password and other simple parameters using a step-by-step configuration wizard. You can then connect to the server through a client application on your PC or mobile device to view and control the desktop. File transfer only works between computers, but unfortunately, this feature is not available in the free version.

I used the free version for personal use and was pleased with the functionality of Real VNC!

Users can connect from Windows, macOS, Linux, Raspberry Pi, Chrome, Android, iOS platforms. Connection is possible to platforms Windows, macOS, Linux, and Raspberry Pi.


Advantages:
Disadvantages:
  • The reliable and stable app,
  • There is a free and paid version of the program,
  • An intuitive user interface,
  • Supported by almost all platforms.
  • In the free version of the utility, file transfer between computers is not available

Remmina

Remmina is an open-source remote access application. I must say right away that this is a rather unusual application since it works only on the operating systems of UNIX, Linux, Raspberry Pi, and Mac OS. You will not launch the console in Windows, although the application connecting with computers of any operating system (even Windows!). Quite unusual, isn't it?

Remmina interface

Image source – remmina.org

In all other respects, Remmina is a regular application that is free for home use.

By the way, the peculiarity of this application is that everyone can access the code and adapt the application for them by changing the necessary parameters.


Advantages:
Disadvantages
  • Free, open-source utility,
  • Has access to devices with any operating system,
  • Offers multiple remote protocols (NC, RDP, XDMCP, SSH).
  • Outdated interface

Atera

Atera interface

Image source – atera.com

Atera is a support package for Managed Service Providers (MSPs). Hmm, what utilities does this service include? First, these are the utilities that technicians need to manage a remote network. Secondly, this service has a module that helps MPS managers in business management. Third, this service has support systems. Atera also has a service remote monitoring and management (RMM).

Atera has a free 30-day period, after which the user must pay for the purchase.


Advantages:
Disadvantages:
  • Support package designed for MSPs and other support services,
  • Atera is a versatile remote control solution,
  • Has a service remote monitoring and management (RMM)
  • This application paid: after 30 days of use, the free trial access will not be available,
  • Auto-fix features have some disadvantages,
  • Sometimes, the computer name change is displayed out of time.

ManageEngine Remote Access Plus

Remote Access Plus is a set of tools needed to establish a correct remote desktop connection. The utility also has a desktop module. Remote Access Plus is available as a cloud service (hosted on ManageEngine servers) or can installs locally in Windows.

Remote Access Plus architecture

Image source – manageengine.com

I tested this utility for several weeks, and I was pleased with the presence of several types of chat at once: text, voice, and video chat. Chat helps the technician and the remote computer user to understand each other. By the way, technicians can even turn the remote computer on or off! Here is such a computer repair service without leaving your home.

There is a free and a paid version of the utility. The free version is limited to managing ten client computers. If you want to expand the possibilities − the paid version has a 30-day trial period, after which you will have to buy the product.


Advantages:
Disadvantages:
  • Advanced remote access functionality, convenience for technicians,
  • Availability of on-premises and cloud deployment,
  • Several types of chat.
  • You will have to buy a utility to get the full range of possibilities

ISL Online

ISL Online is a cloud-based remote access tool that can also install locally on your computer.

I warn you right away ─ ISL Online paid. If you want to install the application locally, then the fee is charged one-time. But if you use the cloud version, you will have to pay the service monthly. A 15-day trial is available for buyers. I think that two weeks is more than enough to understand if the functionality suits you.

ISL Online software interface

Image source – islonline.com

As in the case with Remote Access Plus, ISL Online can be an assistant in computer repair. The system administrator can remotely connect to your desktop and take the necessary steps to repair the system.

The utility's protection system is more than reliable − the connections between the ISL Online system and the user settings protect by 256-bit AES encryption and two-factor authentication (the same security system use by the TeamViewer we reviewed earlier).


Advantages:
Disadvantages:
  • The utility is available both locally and online,
  • Reliable data protection system,
  • Advanced functionality for technical support specialists,
  • Chat presence,
  • Intuitive application interface.
  • The minimum trial period − is only 15 days

Zoho Assist

Zoho is a business software manufacturer and owner of ManageEngine, a leading IT management software provider.

Zoho app interface

Image source – zoho.com

Zoho Assistant is a cloud-based remote access utility. In my opinion, this application will appeal to support professionals and MSPs technicians.

The utility package includes a live chat capability and a built-in file transfer system.

The functionality of the utility worked for me with its diversity. For example, a technician might open multiple sessions on one device, which allows the user-visible actions to display in one window and the operating systems actions in another. It is very convenient.


Advantages:
Disadvantages:
  • The utility is ideal for MSP professionals,
  • Built-in automation tool that allows technicians to design problem-solving scenarios,
  • Is a white-labeled product.
  • Not suitable for large local area networks,
  • The program is paid. Users provide with a 15-day trial period.

N-able Take Control

MSPs specialists rejoice! Another utility discover that is ideal for technical support specialists or employees of IT departments ─ this is N-able Take Control! Also, the utility is perfect for freelancers since the utility includes the functionality necessary for communicating and helping users. It's a cloud service that is paid by a specialist once a month by subscription.

N-able Take Control software interface

Image source – n-able.com

Satisfied users reported seeing the technician's actions on their work screen while he was setting up their system. I confidently say that N-able Take Control is one of the best utilities for system administrators and people who need urgent technical assistance. You no longer need to take your laptop to a service center with a request to check the device for viruses because a technician can do this online using N-able Take Control.

The utility provides the Take Control system, which monitors sessions and reports on the performance of system administrators. Each user can leave feedback on the technique and share his opinion on the quality of service.


Advantages
Disadvantages
  • The utility's functionality is aimed at system administrators, support specialists, and freelancers but is also suitable for use in organizations,
  • Take Control system for monitoring employee performance, where you can leave feedback about the specialist,
  • Short free trial period – 14 days

Dameware Remote Everywhere

The next tool in my top 13 remote desktop software is Dameware Remote Everywhere. It is professional software that will appeal to business owners and employees of large organizations. For local use at home, the utility is hardly suitable.

Dameware app interface

Image source – solarwinds.com

Today it is the most popular business utility for remote access. It is certainly not free, but it makes sense: there are no safe free utilities for commercial use.

There are two versions of the utility: online Dameware Remote Everywhere and the local Dameware Remote Support.

The local version of the application is installed only on Windows and Windows Server. The online version supports all operating systems because the console access through a browser.

If you use Dameware Remote Everywhere, you have to pay for each technician, but the service allows each operator to access 500 remote devices. The local software hasn't restrictions for remote devices.


Advantages:
Disadvantages:
  • The software is available both locally and online,
  • The utility is available through the browser,
  • The online version of the program is supported on all operating systems,
  • Available sorting and grouping of remote devices.
  • The application is not intended for free use. A free 14-day trial period is available for users


How to install software through a remote desktop?

Can I install software on a remote computer using a remote desktop tool? This question usually asks by many users. However, before installing the software on a remote computer, I want to remind you of the security rules. Understand that this is very important! You voluntarily let a stranger into your system, even if they are a reliable technician you can trust. It's better to play it safe and think about the security of your data in advance than to suffer terrible consequences later.

So, these simple rules will help you keep your data safe:

  1. In no case do not disclose to the technician passwords from folders and files!
  2. If during a remote session you need to surf the Internet − use only private search engines that do not collect data about you.
  3. Use only a security browser (for example, the Tor browser).
  4. Carefully monitor the technician's action on your computer. If you feel that something is amiss ─ stops the session immediately!

Well, I hope you will heed my recommendations, for I am worried about your safety!

So, let's get back to the question that interests you. Perhaps you turned to technical support, where they advised you to install new software, but you are not sure where to start? Let me show you how to install the software via Remote Desktop using a TeamViewer example.

Okay, you must be following these steps:

  1. Find a remote control program (I'm using TeamViewer as an example). You can choose any app from my ranking of the best remote desktop programs. Draw your attention to both computers must have to download the same remote access software.
    Important: successful collaboration is only possible if the same program installs on two computers.
  2. Take control of your device. In most remote control programs, you will need to use the same account for both computers. You also need to specify which computer use as the host and which computer use as the administrative device.

    TeamViewer main page

  3. Install the software. Once the administrator has taken over control of the device, it is easy to install the required software. The administrator can use their keyboard and mouse to navigate to a web browser and files on the computer. An important point: if the host computer has passwords, the administrators must know them to install a new application. It's a dangerous moment, which I mentioned above. You must have complete confidence in the person you trust your computer.
    Important: I strongly advise you to change all of the passwords on your computer after the remote session ends.
  4. Release control of the device. After installing the necessary software and transferring files between the two computers, the host no longer requires remote control.

That’s all! These steps help you to install software remotely.


Conclusion

Technology makes our lives easier and saves us time. 2020st taught us how to work remotely, meet friends online and use delivery services. Our world is changing rapidly, and, having learned the advantages of remote services, we will no longer return to our usual way of life. Convenience is the trend of 2021st.

One of the discoveries that the pandemic gave us was remote desktop applications. Of course, people used them before, but now they have become truly indispensable. Working meetings, watching movies with friends, playing online games, and even repairing computers − all this is possible thanks to remote desktop tools.

I know how important it is these days to stay in touch with people thousands of kilometers away from us, so I have compiled the top 13 remote desktop software that are reliable and easy to use. I hope that you will choose from the remote desktop software list the application that satisfies your needs!

I was glad to talk with you about such a topic and help you adapt to IT trends. I look forward to our next meeting!

Care for your health and stay connected!

Tags: 
Technology
Author
Darina Shramko
Cybersecurity specialist and researcher.

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