Remote viewing tool

Keep an eye on PC use remotely with this app-and-Web combo.

Parents, business owners, and anyone concerned about keeping the worst of the Internet at bay will appreciate Remote Authority. It's a compact, inexpensive, easy-to-use tool that takes a screenshot every minute of whatever is being viewed on the host machine (i.e., by your kids) and displays it on a secure Web site so that you can monitor it anywhere there's an Internet connection, which is pretty much anywhere these days. Just to be clear, it shows you what someone else is looking at on whatever computer it's monitoring, so none of the usual excuses will fly. It puts teeth behind the old arms control mantra, which also applies to kids and the Internet: "Trust, but verify."

This program is a small download that's extremely easy to install and set up. You can set Remote Authority to run automatically when Windows starts, check for updates, and configure other options using a simple dialog; just enter your e-mail address for notifications and security, enter the names of up to three computers, select a few options, and click OK to save your settings. Right-clicking the system tray icon provides quick and easy access to account and options settings as well as the Pause Monitoring button. The program makes use of Web-based accounts; you simply log in to your account to view recent activity on up to three separate computers. The site saves the last 720 images taken, covering a 12-hour period.

Editors' note: This is a review of the full version of Remote Authority 1.08. The trial version has the following limitations: 15 minutes lag time between screen captures; only five images are saved for viewing; and only one user can be monitored.

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