April 21, 2024
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Remote Access and Making it Work for You

Several doctors I know say they are constantly bombarded with small health-related questions any time they bump into someone they know. Working in information technology is much the same—except instead of “What does this ache mean?” or “Why do I feel like this?” I get “How come my screen freezes twice a day?” and “Why won’t this load?”

As my medically-minded friends say about people’s bodies, the same holds true in cyberworld: the only way to stay digitally healthy is to be proactive. Think of this column as “Dear Abby” for your computer, or your own private appointment at the Genius Bar (the Apple store) without the hassle of mall parking.

Here are some basics for setting up your home or office computer: Install necessary software, to make sure your calendars are properly backed up, and set up remote access to your machine so you can get your data from anywhere.

Many of the important programs and apps used on a day-to-day basis are coupled with software that runs in the background of a computer, and can be hard to find, or even harder to update. Users will find themselves having to visit a host of websites—sometimes upwards of 20 or more—to get the basic software updates that are taken for granted, such as Java, Adobe Reader, VLC Player, and so on.

When it comes to these updates, the Holy Grail for IT professionals is www.NiNite.com. NiNite is a free service that allows the user to choose from more than 50 commonly used applications and necessary tools, download and install them with about three clicks. The brilliance of this website is that it scans your computer and finds your operating system to seek out the correct versions of the programs you’d like installed, then downloads and installs them. If one of those programs is already installed, it automatically installs the update. Most importantly, it also makes sure that none of those annoying toolbars or add-ons come along for the ride.

Clients who telecommute often ask what the best remote access software is for their PCs or MACs. I must stress that you should first check your company’s remote access policy before proceeding to download a remote solution. Some companies have their entire team work remotely and come into the physical office only once or twice a week. The same solution that works for the office can work for your home. If you are away on vacation and want to check something on your home computer, remote software is essential.

The three leading remote access companies are LogMeIn, TeamViewer, and GoToMyPC (all three of which can be accessed through their websites). The beauty of these programs is in their simplicity. First make sure you have the latest Java update. Then go to the website and create an account using simple email-based authentication. You’ll be prompted to download their software at the end of the process. Once you’ve installed that small application, you can access your computers anywhere you can get on the Internet. Each of these companies has apps available for Android and iPad tablets and smartphones.

Each application has strengths and weaknesses. Finding the right one depends on your specific needs. But, as with so much in life, with experience comes knowledge. If you use one of these resources, write in to tell me how it worked for you. If you’re having trouble with one of them, write in with your question. This column is your forum, and together we’ll control+alt+delete all your technology problems.

Shneur Garb is the founder and CEO of the Garb IT consulting group based in Teaneck. To have your computer and network questions addressed in this column, please email [email protected].

By Shneur Garb

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