Newest Review: ... a new session for the user with a problem. To allow the user to connect you get the option for a PIN code, an e-mail or a link. PIN cod... more
LogMeIn to the Rescue
Member Name: pookie_rabbit
Advantages: Not just great remote control but other invaluable tools also
Disadvantages: Could be seen as expensive
Before anything else I should explain that this review is for LogMein RESCUE. LogMeIn produce a number of different products ranging from free basic remote control packages to remote backup solutions. LogMeIn rescue is a pretty expensive feature packed product for providing remote control solutions for internal and external end user support via an internet connection. If you are looking for a free remote tool then this is not for you although I should add LogMeIn do offer a very much cut down free version of this tool called simply LogMeIn Free. All products can be found via logmein.com.
Remote control allows you to view and interact with the desktop that the end user sees to help them out with a problem. If you work as the end user of a computer system you have no doubt been amazed at some point (at least the first time) when a technician took control of your machine and your mouse suddenly started moving around the screen. Magic it wasn't. Plenty of remote control software already exists - Windows itself offers such features as Remote administration/desktop, 3rd party utilities such as Dameware are available and high end tools for use within an organization such as Microsoft SMS. What LogMeIn offers differently is multiple platform control as it works on Windows and Mac machines as well as smart phones and is generally "clientless" in that nothing needs to be installed. The user needs to download and run a file from the internet but does not actually need any software enabled or installed beforehand. Because of the way it uses a secure channel through the internet it can also work through corporate firewalls - as long as you have an internet connection its almost like having a direct link. To say that LogMeIn rescue is just a remote control tool though is missing out a lot of its functionality.
I was wondering how best to review this and think the best way is to give an imaginary scenarios and how they would be solved using LogMeIn rescue.
Let's say an external client rings up and has a problem with a file server that you support because it runs your software system for example. The server is going slow and some strange error messages are on the screen. It doesn't need to be server - it could be a PC, a Mac or even a Blackberry phone for example.
All the server and you need at this point is an Internet connection either directly or through a company proxy and firewall.
At your end you launch the Technicians Console via the LogMeIn website. This is done by opening a web browser and going to www.logmeinrescue.com and logging in with your account. At this point you launch the technician's console which is the front end to most of the work you will do. You then create a new session for the user with a problem. To allow the user to connect you get the option for a PIN code, an e-mail or a link. PIN code is perhaps the easiest. You enter the persons name and a unqie PIN number is created. The user then opens a web browser and enters this PIN ay www.logmein123.com. Alternatively you can send an e-mail link that sends them directly to your session. If you don't have an e-mail client such as Outlook installed it can even be sent via LogMeIn. The final option is a link via the clipboard to be sent via mail or more likely and IM client such as Messenger. Whichever way the client goes in they end with a file that is downloaded and run which is less than 1MB in size. Like I say they just run it - nothing needs to be installed.
Once the user has connected (a matter of a few seconds) all of the console options become available to you. In my example the first thing I would want to do is actually see the server screen. As far as the customer desktop goes you have two options - to launch remote control session (interact with the computer) or launch desktop session (just see what is going on). If you just want to see the screen and the end user doesn't want you just taking over the latter option would be used. However if you want to start doing some work on the machine such as actually moving the mouse and typing on the keyboard you would choose the first. Either way the user will get a message and have to accept that you want to connect - you can't just take control without the other person knowing.
One more important choice at this point is "Restart Applet as System Service". Basically when you connect to a machine you may be connected to a user who does not have "administrative" access to the PC. You may need to log out and log in as a true administrator (that is a person who can make changes to the operating system and software). Because you need to log out of the computer to do this the software needs to install as a "service" and you need to enter the administrator username and password to do this.
Once connected a number of options are available to you aside from just working on the users screen.
Firstly both users have a chat window. Therefore if you aren't speaking over the phone you can chat to discuss the problem the person is having. I find this useful when "talking" to people abroad who don't have English as their first language. It gives them more time to explain their problem and understand what I am suggesting.
You can also work full screen or in a window. You can choose the colour of the screen you are viewing from "Very low (black and white for dial-up connections)" to "High". The lower the quality the quicker the remote control session especially over a slow link. Finally can also set a percentage on the amount of screen you can see and magnify to certain areas if you wish
Other tools while viewing include the following. You can automatically start the Windows "Task Manager". This is just a windows tool for troubleshooting but its useful to be able to launch it directly from LogMeIn.
If you want to point out a couple of things to the user you have the whiteboard and a laser pointer. The whiteboard is for circling or marking around things while the laser pointer is just a dot to point at things. Hours of enjoyment can be spent by the more childish drawing silly freehand drawings on the screen (guilty!).
The next option is screen recording. Lets say this was a new problem you hadn't encountered before and you wanted to record the steps you had taken for perhaps training purposes or to remind yourself in the future how you fixed it. These record to an AVI format file on the technicians computer - A 1 minute recording will be around 2MB in size. You also have an option for screen capture which is just print screens stored in different graphic formats.
It's worth knowing at this point you can also share your own desktop. So if you wanted to show the person at the other end how something should look from your own display you can do this.
As well as this you can invite another technician. So perhaps you want another technician involved to train them on how you are going to fix the problem or want advice from them. The other technician would need another LogMeIn licence to do this however as a second connecting person.
So you have remote controlled the server and realise that a piece of software is outdated and you need to copy it to the remote machine. This is where the "File Manager" becomes useful. Again when you launch this the remote user has to accept your connection so no security is compromised. When you do this you see a 2 pain view of the file system on the local machine (you) and the remote (them). You can then drag files from one computer to the other. The transfer shows up on the chat windows to show what percentage of the transfer has completed. You can also synchronize and replicate folders so they match on both machines.
Another useful tool is "System Info". This is broken down into a number of different tools but all showing information pertaining to the remote system. The "Dashboard" for instance will return the operating system running on the remote machine, the BIOS version, CPU information, memory information, space used on disks as well as the useful top 5 processes running and last 5 errors in the computers event log.
You can also request a full list of the process and services running on the machine, what applications are installed, what drivers are installed, all of the events and particularly useful for solving spyware type problems, what applications are set to run at startup.
So let's suppose now that you have seen the problem (using the remote control tool), have copied the files across (using the file managed) and installed them but now need to do a bit more work on it. Unfortunately the user at the other end needs to go home. If this is the case you wouldn't be able to get on again if you decide to reboot in maybe half an hour as the user would need to login again and accept the connection. The "Reboot" option available to the technician has a number of normal reboots available to them including a useful option to "Request Windows Credentials" before choosing one of these. Clicking this button prompts the user to put there password in and then LogMeIn can automatically enter this when you have rebooted the remote computer.
Another useful reboot option on Windows machines is "Safe Reboot and Reconnect" which starts the machine in safe mode but with networking enabled. This is again useful for fixing spyware and virus problems.
The next option which is a subject in its own right is "Scripts". Let's say the machine has a virus. The technician knows how to solve this problem but it takes him 15 minutes to complete. Another 10 machines then get the same problem. The scripts allow you to create an automated job to carry out certain repeat tasks. Like I say this is a subject in its own right but can have massive time (and monetary) saving benefits.
Two final options are also available "Calling Card" and "History & Notes". With a calling card you can setup the system so that your important client can initiate a session with you rather than the other way round. The "History & Notes" allows a technician to see what work has been done on this machine in the past and if any notes from previous problems have been left.
All in all this is an excellent tool for support professionals. Aside from any of the other tools the remote control is fast and useful in its own right. However it comes at a price. It costs 1188 US$ for a year, 129 US$ for a month and 768 US$ if you want the option to be able to remote control smart phones. For a large IT support centre it still represents excellent value and could through its tools (such as scripts) actually make savings in reality. For smaller companies and home users check out the tools available to you within Windows or try LogMeIn free. Either way if you want to give it a try all of the LogMeIn tools are available on a trial basic via the website.
Summary: Invaluable tools that could actually help you save money on support