My use of “Remote Desktop Access Software” has a long and storied history. It started years ago with LogMeIn, which is still around, and worked fine, but it no longer [at least to my knowledge] has a Free Option.
But Why Shouldn’t I Pay for Remote Desktop Software?
Here’s a long list of Remote Desktop software. After LogMeIn went behind a paywall, I used TeamViewer for a while, but they did the same thing. I do not use these programs as part of a business. I use them for personal use and to help friends – even before lock-down restrictions – maintain their computers, without pay.
So I need a totally free solution.
But What About Microsoft Remote Desktop?
I have never studied Microsoft Remote Desktop in detail. But my understanding is that it is not “Firewall Friendly”, but is rather designed for experts on both ends who either only use it on their LANS or know how to perform the arcane incantations to spirit connections through Firewalls.
What’s the Big Deal with Firewalls?
In order to be “Firewall Friendly” or in other words to “Allow NAT Traversal” or to Allow Traffic through a Network Address Translation Firewall, requires that the two machines find each other using a server out on the internet somewhere. Here’s where the costs might come in. Just like the Zoom or Discord or other services we use, the traffic must go from one machine, through those servers and then on to the other machine. All the time the connections are open with only 10s of millisecond latency. To be sure, a remote desktop connection has vastly smaller traffic requirements than a zoom call with a half dozen folks.
AnyDesk to the Rescue
Recently I found AnyDesk. New to the scene apparently, they still feel the need to provide a free option for those of us who don’t want to pay and are not using the software in a company.
I’ve used AnyDesk to help a few friends and it is very easy to start up and use. AnyDesk provides very easy use with or without installing the software in the remote machine. It is extremely Firewall Friendly, as you use it you are never aware of any firewall issues. The two machines find each other through the use of a single number that you read from the Remote machine and type into the Local machine. I’m sure this is not new, but it is very easy for non-expert users.
No accounts are needed and there is no complicated logging in. It has complex features, but to help a less than expert friend, it’s easy to get going on both ends.
And Local is Local
But it has another feature. If you are using it on a local LAN, then the traffic is local. I’m not sure that the other systems work that way. Here’s what I found out when I used it locally:
Notice that the AnyDesk connections are with the local machine 192.168.1.100. There is a remote connection using Port 80 with a server, but once the connection is made to the remote machine, the desktop image and keyboard /mouse traffic is completely local. Faster and more secure.
This is exactly what I had hoped would happen. No setup or fiddling is required for this to happen. Anydesk finds, automatically, the remote machine on my LAN when I have set it up for remote access, and entered a password. Then when I run AnyDesk on the local machine, it sees the remote and allows one click connection to the remote.