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TeamViewer

CNET Editors' review

TeamViewer is a free tool that makes it incredibly easy to set and use a VPN connection; a Virtual Private Network that lets you take complete control of another PC from your own computer, whether they're separated by a soda can or a continent (and as long as both machines are running TeamViewer). It enables two-way connections in which users can flip control back and forth. TeamViewer also lets you hold virtual meetings with multiple participants (again, they all must have TeamViewer installed). With a name like TeamViewer, you'd expect it to be an enterprise-ready tool, and you'd be right: TeamViewer's robust simplicity is what happens when multiple users of vastly different skills need to use software. After a while, the bugs get squashed pretty firmly. But TeamViewer is free to non-commercial users. That means you can use it to access your work and home PCs remotely, of course. But you can also install it on your mom's PC (for example) and provide tech support from home.

We installed and opened TeamViewer on two Windows 7 PCs; one a 64-bit desktop, the other a 32-bit netbook. TeamViewer provides a user name and password for each machine. You simply need to enter each machine's numbers in the other to create a connection. The host PC's screen displays the remote PC's desktop in a window, and the host machine's mouse and keyboard control the remote PC's counterparts. We could open folders, files, and programs; run processes; and change settings: anything we could do with the remote machine's own controls, we could do from our main PC's controls, too, with TeamViewer. We tried the Meeting tool, too, but since we had TeamViewer installed on just two PCs, our pool of invitees was a bit small. TeamViewer offers some useful options; for instance, you can limit it to file transfers if you don't need total control.

TeamViewer is simply the easiest tool of its type we've used, and a far cry from the VPN apps of not so long ago. And it can cut down on the phone tag when friends and family need tech support!

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