Remote Desktop Tools for Efficient Tech Support in 2021

May 14th, 2021 20 min read

It’s one thing to hear a tech issue described, but quite another to witness it with your very own eyes. Anyone who has ever tried to help someone fix an issue over the phone is painfully aware of this. 

Remote desktop tools give tech support teams the power to see user behavior, application quirks and desktop environments for themselves This helps them diagnose issues quickly and efficiently. They can also help technical teams launch new releases and updates for clients and quickly install applications, rather than guiding them through every step of setup.

 trScoreTop-RatedOSBiggest ProBiggest Con
ConnectWise Control8.6/10trustradius top rated badgeWindows, MacOS, LinuxBroad OS SupportDated UI
Apple Remote Desktop7.0/10MacOSStrong FunctionalityMac Only
GoToAssist7.8/10Windows, Linux (Chat only MacOSAccessibility and Mobile Friendliness, Including iOS and AndroidSome Users Say it is Expensive for its Features
DameWare Remote Support8.5/10Windows, MacOS, LinuxEase of UseSome Users Say it is Expensive for its Features
TeamViewer8.2/10trustradius top rated badgeWindows, MacOS, LinuxSpeed, IntegrationsNo Calendar Tool
BeyondTrust Remote Support8.7/10trustradius top rated badgeWindows, MacOS, LinuxSecurity, Ease of UseMobile App Has Issues

Desktop sharing applications have been around for many years. Due to their popularity in the IT field, many programs have developed specialized features designed to specifically support technicians.

Examples of these features include streamlined UIs that allow support team members to access remote machines, servers, and networks. On-the-fly invites and stripped-down remote access for quick diagnosis can help an IT team provide faster support. Finally, shortcuts designed for quick access to third-party diagnostic tools give help desks the utility of some of the other best remote support software in the business.

These kinds of capabilities distinguish tech support remote desktop applications from those used mainly for meetings and remote working. Although there is an overlap in the software used for both functions, the tools our users reviewed highly for remote desktop support often focus on functionality over video or sound quality. In a live chat with a customer, this can greatly reduce the frustration that technical issues cause and improve customer satisfaction with the experience.

These products may also include special tools designed to assist IT professionals, such as ticketing system integration, technician toolboxes, and the ability to access sleeping/powered-off computers.

Recent user feedback research reinforces the growing ubiquity of remote desktop software across industries and company sizes. Though remote desktop software is still primarily used by professionals in the IT and computer software industries, other industries such as higher education and education management, healthcare, and construction are increasingly using remote desktop software as well.

top 10 desktop support reviewer industries | trustradius.com
This information is based on data collected on TrustRadius.com in April 2019

This software is also being used across company sizes. Online reviews from remote desktop software customers show a relatively evenly distributed customer base across small businesses, mid-size companies, and enterprises.

While 35% of use cases were at large organizations with more than 1,000 employees – where users likely provide support to internal staff – another 35% represent use cases by midsize companies. There were also a significant number of small business use cases represented (22%), where remote desktop users may be providing support to colleagues, or to customers and/or external parties.

1. ConnectWise Control

Connectwise score

ConnectWise Control is a remote desktop application designed by Elsinore Technologies and acquired in 2015 by ConnectWise. Once installed on a server, machine or network, the self-hosted software allows users to initiate screen-sharing sessions from the central web application. ConnectWise Control also features an open architecture structure so that users may implement custom plugins, scripting, or integrations.

Connectwise Control dashboard
Image via ConnectWise Control

Many  ConnectWise reviewers appear to be using it as a remote support solution for clients. These users often hail from small IT companies where efficient and fast client support is critical. In fact, of the 1047 reviews of ConnectWise Control on TrustRadius, 311 of them—or just under a  third—are from users in the Information Technology and Services industry. Many reviewers appear to like it for the ease of use and praise the application’s ability to launch quickly, even for technically challenged users.

Users Rate These Features Highly:

2. Apple Remote Desktop

Teachers and computer administrators have relied on Apple Remote Desktop, or ARD, since 2002. It was designed specifically for volume; the software allows the primary user to manage large numbers of computers at once. This feature makes it useful for educators working in computer labs or with groups of students. And often the users who reviewed ARD on TrustRadius came from IT or tech-related roles in education or media companies. Approximately 25% of our users listed some sort of education-related field as their industry, whether it was E-learning, Education Management, or Higher Education.

Apple remote desktop dashboard
Image via Apple

IT administrators can use ARD to push out updates or install software on multiple macs at once, making it a valuable tool for managing a number of machines. And of course, the software includes screen sharing capabilities to perform remote tasks and end-user assistance. The remote tools require separate end-user authentication. Once that’s accomplished, the primary user chooses between three different levels of connection: observe, a read-only type of administration; control, which allows the admin to take over the desktop; and curtain, which disables access for the end-user, granting controls to the admin only.

Users Rate These Features Highly:

3. GoToAssist

GoToAssist’s target audience is right there in the name: this product is aimed at support professionals and IT technicians who assist and diagnose a large number of client issues on a day-to-day basis. It’s a leading cloud-based for IT monitoring and service desk administration.

GoToAssist dashboard
Image via GoToAssist

One of GoToAssist’s benefits for users appears to be its convenience and ease of use. Many of the users who review this product praise its ease of use. Security is another asset—users appreciate that GoToAssist provides a secure, one-time access token that clients then used to allow remote access. The majority of users who responded to the question “how likely are you to renew?” gave positive feedback.

Users Rate These Features Highly:

  • Accessibility: The tool is easily used on mobile devices and computers. It offers two-way screen sharing, simplifying remote support. Each session allows you up to eight separate viewers so you can diagnose support issues as a team.
  • Security: The tool offers a unique token for every session. Users also like that you can also restart workstations in safe mode.
  • Session Recording: GoToAssist allows you to record each client interaction for reference later, which users say helps reduce support tickets.

4. DameWare Remote Support

SolarWinds’s DameWare application is a remote support tool for both troubleshooting and Windows administration. Users often find this product useful for helpdesk support and problem-solving for remote machines and servers—even for devices outside the company firewall. The tool allows for bulk actions, such as mass exports of Windows configurations, which makes it well suited for both small and mid-sized companies with many remote users.

DameWare dashboard
Image via DameWare

When we looked at our reviewers’ demographics, we found some interesting trends. A number of reviewers fill IT roles outside the traditional computing industries, or serve small IT shops where efficiency is the rule of the game. In summary, while the vast majority of reviewers are in IT departments, the industry variation is huge. 

For many, the real advantage seems to be in the price; multiple reviewers specified that the cost-versus-functionality of this tool offers the greatest bang for their buck.

Users Rate These Features Highly:

  • Ticketing: DameWare is integrated with WebHelpDesk to simplify ticket administration.
  • Ease of Use: For many reviewers, DameWare “just works,” offering a high degree of functionality with little work from the end-user side of the equation.
  • Compatibility: DameWare connects to most operating systems and works with mobile devices as well.
  • Lightweight: Users say the application is lightweight for convenient, fast troubleshooting.

5. TeamViewer

TeamViewer score

TeamViewer, a proprietary computer software package owned by GFI Software, is a fairly popular choice for remote troubleshooting among IT professionals. The full application is accessible by download; however, once installed, machines are “owned” and can be accessed again on the fly. There are also web-browser and mobile versions of the application for end-users without access to downloads.

Teamviewer dashboard
Image via coolsmartphone.com

With 1750 ratings, TeamViewer is the most reviewed option for remote administration on TrustRadius. Employees from mid-sized companies are most likely to review, although this product has a heavy following with small and large businesses as well. This product is also a Top-Rated winner.

Users Rate These Features Highly:

6. BeyondTrust Remote Support (Legacy)

BeyondTrust Remote Support bills itself as “secure remote access for privileged users,” and for many of its users, the security of this product does appear to be one of its chief benefits. This is another Top-Rated award winner

Representative Console User Interface

Many reviewers who recommend it frequently deal with regulated data, such as IT professionals working in financial institutions. Because this product allows you to work behind a firewall it offers a more secure experience than cloud-based web applications.

Users Rate These Features Highly:

Ease of Use: It’s simple and fast for non-tech-savvy clients to use.

How to choose?

The range of scores for these products is narrow, with all five products scoring highly overall. This implies that perhaps there is a relatively low level of differentiation between the products from these service providers. 

One differentiating factor can be pricing. Some of these products like GoToAssist and TeamViewer are quite inexpensive, while DameWare and particularly BeyondTrust Remote Support (Legacy) cost more. This raises the question of why some companies choose to pay a lot more for what looks like commodity functionality. 

Part of the reason is that looks can be deceptive. For example, large companies use a product like BeyondTrust Remote Support (Legacy)when they require rock-solid performance, great security, a very complete set of capabilities, and a polished and responsive support team. IT support software tends to have a strong emphasis on security, given fears of unattended access of anyone with an internet connection. Remote access tools provide a great benefit for consumers, but the ability to manipulate a computer for IT departments could hypothetically be a security risk. As a result, brand image, trust, and security play a big role. 

Since this is somewhat of a commodity market, it definitely makes sense to compare capabilities, and to carefully consider cost versus support needs.

For those with remote IT teams, check out the video below for tips on how to provide their service more effectively.

For a deeper dive into remote assistance software, please visit the Remote Desktop Software page.

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