About a year ago, I stumbled across TeamViewer, a remote control/remote access utility. The details of the experience are still vividly clear: I had spent the better part of a weekend trying to help my mother get rid of a virus. She lives in another state, so just visiting wasn’t a possibility, and let me be clear: she is not at all computer savvy – I get that more from my dad, though with him having long since passed retirement age, he’s almost as bad as my mom when it comes to computer problems these days. Anyway, long story short is that after trying to get Windows Remote Access working (and failing repeatedly), I looked for an alternative and found TeamViewer. 15 minutes later, the last remnants of the virus were removed. Huzzah!

It’s now a utility that I use all the time to help friends and family, simply because it’s tons easier to do certain things on my own rather than trying to explain a few “simple” steps over the phone. Now, if someone has a problem, the first step is explaining to them how to install TeamViewer. I know the old saying: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Well, it’s true of computers as well, but trying to teach some people about computers is like trying to convince your dog that he needs to learn to read and write.

Cutting to the chase, TeamViewer 9 has just entered public beta. The changes from TeamViewer 7 to 8 weren’t particularly massive (it added support for Windows 8’s Charms Menu and a few other items, Apple Retina support, and additional items for commercial users), and the changes from 8 to 9 are likewise incremental updates in most areas. There’s a new tabbed view (so each session can be in a separate tab rather than in a separate window), Wake-on-LAN is now available on supported PCs, and they’ve added two-factor authentication. TeamViewer 9 is also “ready for Windows 8.1 and OS X Mavericks”, though I’d guess the previous version will work with the new OSes as well. Here’s the quick list of updates from the press release:

  • Two-Factor Authentication – adds additional protection of TeamViewer user accounts by allowing users to retrieve an optional secondary code with their mobile device and a standard authenticator app.
  • Easy File Sharing – ability to share files of any size without having to start a traditional remote access session. Faster than email and can transfer files cross-platform.
  • Universal Clipboard – gives users the ability to copy files from their device and paste directly onto a remote desktop simply by using Copy & Paste (Ctrl+C / Ctrl+V).
  • Notifications – a friendly notification pop-up window located in the Computers & Contacts list that gathers all TeamViewer system notifications including ITbrain alerts in one place for easy management.
  • Custom Branding – Businesses can customize the TeamViewer modules QuickSupport, QuickJoin and Host one time without the need to repeat after a software update. A unique customizable link guides supported users to the current version of a module stored within the TeamViewer Management Console, where the module can be shared and customized within a support team.

With the announcement of TeamViewer 9 Beta the company is also launching its public API that allows companies to integrate the TeamViewer software even further into their existing infrastructure. This is more for larger institutions with in-house developers who want flexibility for their applications, and it’s available to all users with a TeamViewer 9 license. The TeamViewer API consists of two features:

  • Reporting API – a language-neutral and power REST API to retrieve report data from the TeamViewer Management Console, saving time by automating complex reporting tasks and integrating TeamViewer data with existing business data for deeper insights.
  • User Management API – allows organizations to minimize disruption by synchronizing user data between the company’s existing user management system and TeamViewer. This allows developers to write applications to manage TeamViewer user accounts in a company profile as well as migrate from and integrate with existing IT infrastructure.

I can’t personally point at any of the new features as things I’ve needed, but for commercial use I can see some as being interesting. The ability to transfer files (without establishing a remote session) in particular looks promising. More important is the ease of use, and that’s one area I’ve noticed over the past year where TeamViewer tends stands out.

TeamViewer is simply easier to get running than competing solutions (e.g. Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop), and while I haven’t noticed screen updates as being substantially faster/better, the ease of setup factor is critical – especially when dealing with a computer neophyte. Chrome Remote Desktop is a nice free alternative, but the requirement of that I install the browser and Remote Desktop on each PC means a larger download and more time. Once set up, both work reasonably well, but for personal use I still gravitate to TeamViewer. Your mileage may vary.

Source: TeamViewer

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  • abscode - Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - link

    Send them an email asking for that. I do... routinely. I figure if I bother them enough they will eventually take my money to shut me up. :)
  • Einy0 - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    A few years ago we purchased Teamviewer at work. It has made remote support a completely new experience. It is worlds easier to get up and running than Windows Remote Assistance and is much more responsive. It is much better than even RDP as far as lag and bandwidth is concerned. A+++ product, we will be upgrading our license to version 9(about $1000). We are considering laying down another grand for another host license too...
  • iwod - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    Have been using it since Pre Version 4. Using it for PC Fixing as well.
    Now a days I require all my friend to get TeamViewer installed if they ever want any help from me. It is Simple, easy to install and use.
  • WeatherDave - Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - link

    Teamviewer is a great product (notice: I'm a paid user), but you have to know it's limitations.

    Earlier this year (while digging around) I stumbled across an network protocol analysis of Teamviewer by Bradon Thomas (Accuvant Labs). Dated Jan, 2013, it's a nice detailed look at the product, and at the end of the analysis he gives a few conditions on safe use of it. One is you should NEVER use the default password settings, use the optional tougher ones. That said, it's still a pretty vulnerable product, and (in his words) uses: "unauthenticated, plaintext communication between client to server(over 100 commands are supported and parsed on the client side)".

    In the end, I'd trust it (using tougher creds) for family support, but never, ever for a workplace environment.
  • sonofsanta - Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - link

    If your biggest problem is explaining to people how to set up TeamViewer, join.me (http://join.me) may be even better for you - it's powered by LogMeIn, but takes all of about three clicks and a 9 digit number being read out over the phone. It's so handy I use it for helping my Father-in-Law with tech support, and he's only a five minute drive away - but join.me obviates the need for shoes and finding my car keys :)
  • sonofsanta - Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - link

    Didn't realise the comment would try and include the bracket in the link (or that it would linkify it at all) - so https://join.me/ if you want to save yourself a-Googlin' it.
  • careydis - Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - link

    I like Teamviewer and mostly use it at home on LAN where I have half a dozen machines, and only rarely for truly remote support. I like it because of cross platform environment and ease of setup/use.

    What I would like to configure is a smart way for Teamviewer to use the LAN when it's a point to point screenshare in-house, and automatically switch to internet connectivity when needed. This would be arguably more secure and certainly not waste internet bandwidth for a connection that can be done locally. I have so far been unsuccessful in my config strategy to nail this.
  • sajara - Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - link

    Put fixed IP address on each machine, create a list on TV with the specific IP attached and log in. Always on LAN. And you can also put 'exclusively' on the settings if you only use by LAN (as I do).
  • colonelclaw - Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - link

    I had a problem with a software license on my machine a few days ago, so an Autodesk engineer from somewhere abroad connected to my machine using Teamviewer and fixed it. If it's good enough for Autodesk, it's probably pretty decent. I've also had positive experiences with LogMeIn, although getting it installed at the other end by someone with zero tech skills (my dad) has sometimes caused problems.
  • zero2dash - Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - link

    I only have 2 complaints about TV -
    1) The "thanks for playing fair" popup windows when you disconnect from the client
    2) It kills Aero Glass and the only way to bring it back is to run 'netstop uxsms' then 'netstart uxsms'

    Otherwise it's superior to LMI Free....but I use LMI Free most of the time anyway because LMI Free does not do either of those 2 things.

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