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LogMeIn Free – Get free remote access to your PC’s

May 30th, 2006 · 7 Comments

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There are a number of ways to securely gain access to your computer from a remote location. You can purchase licenses for remote control software like GoToMyPC or PCAnywhere. You can use some flavor of VNC such as RealVNC, TightVNC, UltraVNC, etc. (the free VNC servers aren’t secure by default, but there are ways to use SSH to make them secure). Or you can use LogMeIn.

The free version of LogMeIn, cleverly named “LogMeIn Free”, allows you to connect to your Windows PC’s securely without having to open any additional ports in any firewalls, including the firewall in front of the PC you’re trying to control.

How? You first have to install the LogMeIn software onto the PC’s you’d like to be able to reach remotely. Once installed the LogMeIn services on those remote PC’s communicate with the LogMeIn server using a typical SSL connection(port 443) . Most firewalls allow SSL traffic through so no additional holes need to be punched to handle this LogMeIn traffic.

No software needs to be installed on the computer being used to reach the remote target. Everything is done through a web browser. For performance reasons you’ll probably want to install the IE (ActiveX) or Firefox plugins, but they aren’t necessary.

Once you’ve logged into your LogMeIn account you’ll see a list of all of your computers which have an active SSL connection to the LogMeIn server. Just pick one of those computers, tell the website that you want to initiate a Remote Control session, and away you go.

You’ll still need to supply credentials to log into a local account on the remote computer. If you don’t have any accounts with passwords where you install the LogMeIn service the installer will ask you for a password that you’ll use to connect remotely. That’s how LogMeIn guarantees security — the LogMeIn servers know how to reach your remote computers but they don’t know the passwords for the local account.

Using the LogMeIn servers as an intermediary the remote control session is established. The remote computer is talking to the LogMeIn servers using normal SSL traffic, and you are talking to the LogMeIn servers using normal SSL traffic. No additional holes need to be opened to allow the traffic through on either the local or remote computers. And although the remote computer needs to be running Windows, the controlling computer doesn’t. It just needs to be capable of running a modern browser.

The non-free tools offered by LogMeIn give you additional capabilities but for normal remote-control capabilities the free version works just fine. Give it a shot.

Edit: Be sure to read my post comparing CrossLoop and LogMeIn Free here

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