Adventures in getting a quality remote access program

For several years my small IT company used LogMeIn (LMI) as our remote client of choice for accessing customers computers when we could not be on site.
It started out with a free version. We added several pay for (Professional) versions on servers and some computers that needed the ability to transfer files or print from the remote computer to a local one.

Several years ago, LMI came out with “Central” where you could organize computers and servers into groups. This was a low cost item yet one that was worth it to my small business. We could now group each customer and place their computers into that group.The price started off, what I believe was $199 for a year. The next year $299 then $599. That was getting to the edge of the benefit for us. Then in 2013 LMI wanted $6,000, yes, you read that right roughly ten times what we had been paying.

I had 159 total computers on LMI. Ten “Professional” and the rest were the “free” version. LMI insisted I “had to” buy the 250 pack of LMI pro or go screw myself. I spent a couple of months emailing and trying to communicate with them. I was not alone, searching on professional sites such as SpiceWorks, Toms Hardware and even on the LMI sight, they had done this to every one of their clients. LMI agreed to drop the price to $1,500 for a year. I kindly refused the offer, knowing that they were going to nail me sooner or later with an obscene price increase. Even though we were able to bill more than that in remote work, we was not willing to cut into my profits that much.

So the search for a replacement began.
I was looking for a remote program that could:

1. Remote printing for some customers , only 3 or 4 people needed that.
2. Separate logins for customers and my tech’s for billing and legal verification (HIPPA et al)
3. Reporting of major events such as but not limited to:
a. Computer / server going off line
b. high CPU use
c. high RAM use
d. security issues – expired anti-virus, scans not running, needed Windows updates et al
4. Allow me basic remote capabilities in a secure fashion to help my customers with a quick problem.
5. A way to organize the computers into groups so they were listed under a business name.
6. A way to track who logged on and from what times. This is a security and billing need.

My searching through trusted web sites led me to 13 possibilities. I then emailed or otherwise contacted the companies with my needs, the number of systems I wanted to access and features I wanted.

Before you ask about Windows RDP, in my humble but amazingly accurate opinion, it is not secure enough and requires static external IP addresses and if you don’t have enough then you have to do the port changing thing. A real pain in the neck.

1. Screen Connect –bought by Lab Tech needs to run on my server, not for multiple users.
2. Remote Utilities– cost way too much to add my customers as remote users, no simple tracking of who logged on and when.
3. Ammyy.com – cost is way too high. On a “ticket” I created they never directly answered my questions.
4. GoToMyPC and GoToAssist: cost too much, two GoToAssit techs $138/mo and $19.95 /mo /PC- http://www.gotomypc.com/remote-access/features and http://www.gotoassist.com/remote-support/market-leader-global
5. Meraki (a Cisco product) – https://meraki.cisco.com/products/systems-manager – tried on one network / removed. Does not record when logged on and for how long, does not have remote printing. Uses VNC and was very choppy when used, I could not get it to remote connect, after several tries over several days I uninstalled and gave up.
6. Lepid – http://www.lepide.com/lepide-remote-admin.html – for LAN only, no real info on the internet, no support found.
7. Team Viewer; by how many computers you work from, host module, does have remote print, file transfer et al. No secondary users so full license required for them. $1,499 for me. Licensing from 1 computer “Business license” $39 / or $374 a year, this would be for customers who need remote access. Allison called me, she offered me a 2 week trial of the license for me. To monitor the Servers it is sold by the computer / server. 5 or 10 licenses. 10 would be $23.20 a month or $222.60 a year.
8. LabTech Software – Rob: 813-739-8530, left message, tag your it. A female called, she was rude toward my client base, she was arrogant, insulting and rude toward me. They also want $7,200 a year for exactly what they think I need. Also told me I had no idea what Screen Connect could do and obviously “I was not communicating with them”.
9. MAX Focus – had a 30 day trial, used on one client. Uses Team Viewer as a client. How do I allow remote only access? Just did not work with Team Viewer on my or other computers (Some of my clients have Team Viewer on their computers under their name), price would have been high too.
10. rAdmin – http://www.radmin.com/radmin/features.php (emails from @famatech) Did not respond to my request for demo
11. Simplehelp (simple-help.com) – based on the number of active sessions / remote accesses. $995 for five, one time fee, NO PRINTER SHARING – BOUGHT by LABTECH and they are jerks
12. Mikogo.com – this is a meeting software, not what we need.
13. Mesh Central (http://info.meshcentral.com/) No remote printing

Time was running out on my LMI subscription so I went with Mesh Central for two main reasons.
1. It was / is free
2. It was / is part of an Intel project
I had high hopes so in January of 2015 I began installing it on all my clients as I visited them, and uninstalling LMI.

Stay tuned for the follow-up on my using of Mesh Central for a year, you won’t want to miss it.

Until we meet again, have a virus free week!

2 thoughts on “Adventures in getting a quality remote access program

  1. Pingback: Mesh Central the Good the Bad and the Ugly | The Weekly Geek

  2. Pingback: Log Me In is at it again. This time with Cubby. | The Weekly Geek

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