Review of TeamViewer
TeamViewer allows you to take control over a computer anywhere on the Internet, even through firewalls. No installation required, its fast, secure and easy to use.
TeamViewer is a commercial remote desktop control application, which is free to use for non-commercial users. TeamViewer can also be used for presentations - allowing a number of people to view your desktop without them being able to take control. It also supports VoIP, webcam and chat.
It can be downloaded without the need to register, and once downloaded can be run straight away without even needing to install it. This means that it is very fast to use for the first time. It is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and even on mobiles.
Whilst it is free for non-commercial users, it is not free for commercial use. It may be used commercially on a trial basis only, but after that one time payment is required which gives a lifetime license - so no recurring fees.
TeamViewer has been reviewed under a number of number of common criteria. Each of these criteria are also applied to the other remote control solutions that have been reviewed. The criteria are:
- Operating Systems Supported
- Security Considerations
- Where To Get It From
TeamViewer can be installed on any of the following operating systems:
- Mobile (iPhone, iPad or Android)
Installation could not be more simple - because it does not need to be installed. This is true for the Windows version.
Once you have downloaded the correct version for your operating system, double clicking (or running) what you have downloaded gives you the option to either:
- Install - which will install TeamViewer on your PC. If you intend to use TeamViewer regularly then this is clearly the preferred option to use.
- Run - which allows you to run TeamViewer without installing it first (and without the need for any special administrative privileges). This is probably the preferred method to use it when either evaluating it or using it on an ad-hoc basis (for example when using it to support someone remotely).
The same TeamViewer application acts as both the client and the server.
When TeamViewer is run it shows "Your ID" and "Password", you can either give these to someone else who is also running TeamViewer so that they can connect to your PC, or ask them for their ID and password in order to be able to view their PC.
One caveat to be aware of is if you want to be able to view a PC's desktop then you do need to leave TeamViewer running. This is simply the flip side of the fact that it does not need to be installed - so you need to leave it running in order to be able to connect to it. Alternatively you can use TeamViewer for what they call unattended access, in which case you can specify your own password.
It is also possible to connect to a desktop via the browser. To connect via a web-browser does require you first to sign up for a TeamViewer account.
What capabilities does TeamViewer allow?
Maximum number of connections: unlimited*
*TeamViewer does not place a limit on the number of people who can connect to and view a single desktop. However, it does place a limit on how many desktops you can connect out to:
|Version||Limit of PCs can connect to|
It is worth being aware that when someone connects to view your desktop, they are actually connecting to one of the TeamViewer servers, which in turn has a connection to your PC. What this means in practise is lets say you were giving presentation across the internet using TeamViewer then regardless of the number of viewers your PC would only need to deal within a single connection to the TeamViewer servers, so there would be no load difference on your PC (or your internet connection) and it is the TeamViewer servers which would take the load for the number of people watching your presentation - be it 1 or 100.
The console is the desktop used when someone logs in locally to the computer.
Does TeamViewer allow you to control the console: Yes.
TeamViewer supports two modes: "Remote control" and "Presentation".
The "Remote control" mode allows for someone remotely to connect to your PC and take control of it.
In "Presentation mode" people to connect to your PC but can only view your desktop and cannot take control of it. If you are working on a dual-monitor set-up then you can specify which of your monitors is to be viewed, which for a presentation would allow you (for example) to keep notes separate from the presentation.
Does TeamViewer allow you to transfer files between the local and remote PCs? Yes
TeamViewer has an integrated file transfer facility, which allows files and folders to be copied to and from a remote PC.
Security should be a prime consideration when using any remote control software, especially when using over the internet or from a remote pc other than your own.
TeamViewer maintains logs of connections and files copied, so there is
some audit trail of activities. These log files can be found in the folder
on the computer that was being connected to.
Firewalls stop incoming connections (unless the appropriate port has been opened), but do not in general stop outgoing connections. TeamViewer makes use of this to avoid any firewall issues. From the host PC (the PC that is to be controlled or viewed) TeamViewer makes an outgoing connection to the TeamViewer servers. Because this is an outgoing connection it will not be blocked by the firewall. At the client end (where you want to control the PC from or view the PC from), TeamViewer makes a similar connection. Thus the PC that is being controlled and the PC that is doing the controlling/viewing both establish outgoing connections (to the TeamViewer servers), avoiding any normal firewall issues.
This makes TeamViewer ideal if you need to work around a firewall - especially where you have no control over the configuration of that firewall.
It does also mean that TeamViewer is not suitable when working on an isolated network which has no connection to the internet.
TeamViewer encrypts all traffic, using 256 bit AES encryption. The transfer of keys is done using a higher level of encryption. This means that it should be impractical (and virtually impossible) for someone unauthorised to view anything.
When connecting to a PC that is running TeamViewer you need the ID and password of that PC. Both of which are displayed on the TeamViewer interface. The ID identifies the computer and is a nine digit numeric string and the password is (typically) a six digit alpha-numeric string. You can use either the password suggested (which is randomly generated each time) or set your own.
TeamViewer has the concept of "partners". A partner is simply a pre-configured set of (remote) users/computers of which TeamViewer allows you to see at a glance which are on-line at any time. To be able to manage partners requires a Premium or Corporate license.
TeamViewer can be downloaded from www.teamviewer.com.
TeamViewer is a very easy to use remote control and remote viewer application.
It is ideally suited to giving presentations across the internet given that there is no practical limit on the number of viewers. Do remember that if you are using it in a commercial environment then you are expected to purchase a license once you have completed your evaluation.
TeamViewer is also well suited to support environments - where end users who need support may not be familiar with how to install or configure a product as they can simply run TeamViewer and read the ID and password via phone or email.
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