View and control PCs remotely with UltraVNC

Control multiple PCs remotely with this freeware VNC client and server package.

VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing. Based on a simple, robust protocol, VNC connections let you remotely view and control one computer from another using the Internet or a private network. UltraVNC lets anyone create VNC connections between two or more PCs running its software. Freeware, actually: UltraVNC is free but powerful enough to provide customer support and remote administration. It's easy to use, as VNC packages go, but it's not really for beginners. For example, you must install the client (Viewer) on one system and the Server on another, and both PCs must allow remote access. The online documentation includes screenshots but is a bit thin in places and assumes some knowledge on the user's part. But anyone who has configured their network settings should be able to set up a VNC connection using UltraVNC. We ran UltraVNC's 64-bit version on Windows 7 PCs.

As with other VNC apps, UltraVNC has two main parts, the Viewer and the Server, and the download installs both. Setup involves creating a password and allowing UltraVNC through your firewall when you first run the Server. The Viewer also allows many options, such the level of access and control you want to allow, the display settings, and miscellaneous options such as disabling clipboard transfers. But we recommend keeping the default Auto Select Best Settings options, where they're available. You'll also need to configure each on the machine you'll be using, but it's possible to test your connections from your main PC by allowing loopback connections. If you've got things set up properly, you'll see an endless "mirror-in-mirror" view of your screen. That's the hard part, actually, and once you have UltraVNC set up properly, establishing the remote connection is easy -- as easy as the Windows home networking feature, and much more powerful.

Who needs UltraVNC? Anyone who might need to access their work or home PC remotely, for starters. Software developers can use it to issue updates; Net admins can monitor and administer users' PCs remotely (think about that the next time you have to go fix something simple on your mom's PC). Or take control of your home network.

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