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Remote Control Software Essay, Research Paper Remote Control Software Used in a Local Area Network A Project Submitted to Fulfill the Requirements of CIS 5376 LAN I

Remote Control Software Essay, Research Paper

Remote Control Software Used in a Local Area Network

A Project Submitted to Fulfill the Requirements of CIS 5376 LAN I

At Tarleton State University System Center ? Central Texas

By

Lan Carter

Ken Godfrey

Khari McCarrell

William Stephens

James Trieloff

Executive Summary

Remote control software packages consist of tools for network administrators, helpdesk support personnel and end users. These packages let one PC (guest) connect to and remotely control another PC (host). Remote control software installs on both guest and host PCs. Guests can remotely control a host’s desktop, run programs, transfer files and redirect printing.

For helpdesk staffers, we evaluated the robustness of the remote control features and the ability to chat with end users. For network administrators, who use remote control software to connect with NT servers and to troubleshoot problems without visiting the server room, we paid particularly close attention to security features.

We compared CrossTec Corp.’s NetOp Remote Control, Funk Software’s Proxy 3.02, LapLink.com’s LapLink 2000, Stac Software’s ReachOut Enterprise 8.42, Symantec Corp.’s pcAnywhere and Netopia?s Timbuktu Pro 32. Our choice for the best remote control software went to NetOp for its ease of installation and full-featured configuration tools. Although the other products were also easy to install and configure, NetOp?s configuration wizards facilitated communication links, provided minimum levels of security, and established full-featured remote control sessions with a double click of the mouse. In addition, NetOp provided the most control over hosts and guests in a networked environment. pcAnywhere with LapLink provided the highest number of communication links between two PCs ranging from direct ports to Internet. LapLink 2000 won top honors in file transfer and NetOp edged out the competition in transferring screen displays and keyboard/ mouse controls. Funk’s Proxy had the best network installation routine.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary 2

Table of Contents 3

Introduction 4

Problem Statement 4

Objectives 4

Background 5

Methodology 6

Selection of Vendors 6

Characteristics to Be Compared 6

Findings 8

Cross Tec Corp?s ?NetOp for Windows? version 6.5 8

Funk Software?s ?Proxy? version 3.02 12

Laplink.com?s ?Laplink 2000? 16

Stac Software?s ?ReachOut Enterprise? version 8.42 18

Symantec?s ?PcAnywhere? version 10 21

Timbuktu Pro Enterprise 2.1.2 24

Conclusions 26

Comparisons 26

Final Results 29

The Problems 29

Bibliography 30

Table 2 Software Characteristics 31

Remote Control Software Used in a Local Area Network

Introduction

Remote control software can solve many of the problems that an administrator or user can encounter on a local area network. Using a remote-control program, one can access a PC remotely to exchange files between systems, run applications, take control of a client PC or server in order to troubleshoot a problem, and much more.

Remote-control software is an application that you install on two PCs that permits one system (the guest) to connect with and control another (the host). Once you’re connected, you can do just about anything as if you were sitting at the host PC. In addition, remote-control software lets you transfer files between PCs faster and more efficiently. The latest remote-control programs support a myriad of connection types including Internet connections, which are becoming increasingly important. The key advantage to Internet connections is that they let mobile users connect to a PC or server anywhere on the globe via an inexpensive local telephone call. So no matter where you are, you can always stay in touch.

This paper is an effort to shed some light on six of the remote control software programs that are on the market today. We do not intend to be an expert source of information on remote control software. The goal is to present the information in a useful manner. Furthermore, it will attempt to address questions inherent to the capabilities of the software. For with the capabilities that this software possess comes a myriad of ethical and professional dilemmas.

Problem Statement

Our problem was to find six of the leading remote control software brands and discover as much as we could about their capabilities and limitations. We intended to compare the software and indicate which one we believed to be the best. A specific area of interest was with the problems that might arise from the capability to monitor workers activities and any features that the software may have to discourage clandestine activities.

Objectives

? Find six of the leading remote control software packages

? Research the literature to find and present as much as possible about each software packages limitations and strengths.

? Compare the software packages and make an arbitrary decision as to which is the most capable.

? Identify and present the problems that may arise from having the capability to monitor workstation activities anywhere on the net.

Background

Most users associate remote-control software with telecommuting or day extending. Telecommuters typically use remote-control software to connect to an office PC over an analog phone line to exchange files and access productivity applications.

However, there are many other uses for remote-control technology. For example, in a corporate setting, a help desk administrator can take over a client PC and show a worker how to accomplish a task or fix a problem. Network administrators use remote-control software to connect with a server or a workstation and troubleshoot a problem without making the long trek to the server room or the workstation?s location. . Furthermore, many major computer vendors put remote-control software on their PCs so that they can provide customer support remotely. The project?s intent was to take all of these applications into account. In fact, during the research conducted, the authors determined that there are four basic roles of remote-control software.

The Four Roles of Remote-Control Software

Corporate Help Desk

Remote-control software lets help-desk administrators troubleshoot problems without having to run throughout the building. Help-desk administrators look for strong remote-control performance–plus features such as tools for pushing the host software down to client PCs for easy installation, and the ability to launch the host module remotely.

System Administrator

By using remote-control software, system administrators no longer need to be chained to their desks. A system administrator can monitor servers and correct problems at any time of the day from any location. One of the key features is the ability to monitor multiple hosts.

Telecommuter

Connecting over the Internet or dialing in to a company network, a telecommuter can take over a host system (usually, a desktop PC), as though sitting at a desk. Key features for these users include easy modem configuration, fast file transfers, wizards for scheduling unattended synchronization routines, and printer redirection.

Customer Service

Many PC vendors such as Compaq and IBM bundle remote-control software with their products. If a customer encounters a problem, a support technician can take over the system and resolve the problem without having to ship the PC back and forth. Key features for these users include voice chat over data.

Methodology

All of the methods utilized in this research were arbitrary in nature. Furthermore, the authors tested none of the software. In a few cases, we made comparisons between software capabilities using the conclusions of third party research findings. The authors site any cases where comparisons come from outside sources.

Selection of Vendors

Selection of the vendor for evaluation was an arbitrary decision. We made the decision based on the authors? knowledge of the vendor or the availability of information about the software.

The six vendors that we chose to compare were:

1. Cross Tec Corp?s ?NetOp for Windows? version 6.5

2. Funk Software?s ?Proxy? version 3.02

3. Laplink.com?s ?Laplink 2000?

4. Stac Software?s ?ReachOutEnterprise? version 8.42

5. Symantec?s ?PcAnywhere? version 10

6. Netopia?s ?Timbuktu Pro 32?

Characteristics to Be Compared

Three of the characteristics included in our comparisons, ?Platforms and Protocols Supported?, ?Use as a Diagnostic Tool?, and ?Security? came from the requirements of the project. We selected the rest based on the authors? perceptions of what the important areas for this type of software should be.

1. Platforms and Protocols Supported – Network systems and protocols that the software supports.

2. Installation and Resources Required – The installation of the program has to be simple and do most of the work for the installer. When similar operating systems are involved (Windows 9x, Windows NT), having the same installation procedure is a plus.

We included the disk space and RAM space needed by the software in this characteristic.

3. Use as Diagnostic Tool- What capabilities does the software have to diagnose a user problem

4. Interoperability – Interoperability is the easiness and performance of normal remote work, considering work between versions of different operating systems, differences in video configuration and remote configuration options.

5. Security – Features that the software has to discourage clandestine activities. These features include:

a. User abilities to change the software?s configuration.

b. Ability of the software to prevent guests or unauthorized persons from connecting with client machines.

c. Does the software have the capabilities of providing user profiles that limit access to other users?

d. Are there encryption methods used by the software?

6. Services – Services provided by the software that we considered were the capabilities to:

a. Send messages

b. Exchange files

c. Control the desktop

d. Observe the desktop

e. Notify if a user is in front of the screen

f. Chat

g. Telephone communication

h. Clipboard transfer

i. Remote Alt commands (Alt+F4, Alt+Tab..)

7. Cost ? We included two costs in our evaluation. The first was the cost of the software out of the box. The software comes with a two seat license. Then we totaled the costs of adding 1000 host and 10 guest seats.

We obtained the information about the capabilities of the software from either the vendor or a reputable on-line source. We provided a reference when we obtained information from a source other than the vendor.

Findings

Cross Tec Corp?s ?NetOp for Windows? version 6.5

Platforms and protocols supported

NetOp Remote Control enables authorized personnel to remotely control multiple Windows 3.x, 95/98, NT, machines via modems, networks or over the Internet. OS/2 and DOS versions of this application are also available.

Transfer protocols include:

? TCP/IP with enhanced TCP/IP configuration (TCP). for faster and better support of remote control across firewalls

? Infrared (IrDA)

? Network: TCP/IP (UDP), IPX and NetBIOS

Installation and resources required

NetOp provides for a bipartite installation: one for guest and one for host. The installation wizard does not prompt for either, and separate licenses distinguish guests and hosts. According to Doherty 2000, NetOp installs a Readme file containing a list of all files installed. NetOp Deployment Utility design facilitates the large-scale deployment of NetOp modules. From a computer running Windows NT or Windows 2000 you can configure and install NetOp programs on targeted remote computers. NetOp can install onto networked Windows 2000 and NT PCs that do not already have NetOp modules installed. Alternatively, install onto PCs running Windows 2000, NT, 98 and 95 if a NetOp v6.0 Host is running.

NetOp will install 4.1 MB into the host, the main program executes into 544-KB memory. The guest loads 840 KB into memory, using approximately 14.2 MB of disk space. A guest has a configurable cache setting that allows one cache for all hosts or separate caches with limits available from 200 KB to 64,000 KB.

Use as Diagnostic Tool

NetOp?s Request Help feature allows troubled users to report problems to the help desk with the click of NetOp’s SOS button. NetOp’s advanced Request Help feature permits any user to request help from available help services. NetOp transmits Requests for help and instantaneously lists them on the screen of available help providers. From the list, a help provider is only a click away from the troubled user’s screen, keyboard and mouse.

Additional help features include:

? Easy to use tab shows all incoming Help Requests from Hosts.

? Host can pre-define Help Request text and which NetOp Guest Help Provider should receive it.

? Host can define alternate protocol to be used when sending help requests.

? Host can define help request time-out

? Request help icon can be added to the tray, also when Host runs in stealth mode.

? The feature plays a .wav sound on the Guest when a help-request arrives. By substituting this .wav file, the user can decide which sound to play.

NetOp features that aid in diagnosing user problems include:

? View Host screen windowed or in full screen regardless of screen resolution or color depth

? Control keyboard and mouse on the Host or watch remote user use keyboard and mouse. You can lock out host control.

? To obtain even higher speed, the Guest has the capability to disable Windows 2000 “gimmicks” during remote control.

? Moving the mouse towards the edge of the window will scroll the window if the Host screen is larger than the Guest window.

? Applications running on the Host PC can print to the Guest?s printers, and vice versa

NetOp is able to use this to enable audio chats between guests and hosts. You also can record and play back remote control sessions. This feature may come in handy for computer instruction or highly secure sites that require detailed remote transactions. However, it slows the connection considerably.

NetOp’s File Manager includes a scripting utility designed to automate transfers. Scripts can transfer, synchronize and perform other operations without intervention. NetOp scripting also includes an ActiveX Control: NFMScrpt.ocx. This tool installs to the Windows system32 directory and incorporates the use of any programming tool called by a guest that supports ActiveX automation.

The Guest toolbar can:

? Send Ctrl-Esc to the Host, Restart Host PC, Blank display on Host, Lock keyboard/mouse on Host

? Zoom Host window to full screen

? Send Ctrl+Alt+Del

? Send/Receive Microsoft clipboard contents

? Be used in Marker mode to

o Draw on remote screen to highlight areas of interest, e.g. during a support or training session in many different styles, color and line sizes similar to MS Paint

o Undo and Clear command available

Interoperability

The NetOp Gateway is a multi-protocol software router for NetOp traffic. The Gateway server software is ideal for organizations, which do not have separate phone lines for each networked PC. The Gateway module ensures flexible and trouble-free cross-protocol communication?with full support for multiple bi-directional links. With NetOp for Windows v6.5 you can reach any Windows 2000, NT, 95, 98, 3.1X, OS/2 (1.3, 2.x, 3.0, 4.0 incl. Warp) or DOS PC from the comfort of your own desktop. View the remote PCs screen, control its keyboard and mouse, and transfer files back and forth. You do all of this across your Network, modem or the Internet.

NetOp offers the speed you need to remote control your Windows PCs and users. NetOp interacts with the operating system using as few resources as possible. Optional compression level settings assure excellent performance, even across slower WAN or dial up links. In the 1999 Computer Reseller News review of remote control software, NetOp won in both the Modem and Network remote control speed tests. It interacts with more IPX routers (including NT servers) to obtain lists of networks.

Security

NetOp also offers the highest level of security. In addition to traditional security features such as password protection, view only feature, user notification and callback security, NetOp offers extensive logging of remote control activity and bulletproof security using the integrated Windows Security. NetOp guests either have a default set of access privileges or users receive individual privileges–a useful feature. Individual privileges required us to set up user accounts and passwords for each guest. NetOp cannot use NT Domain or local host information. For those looking to centralize remote control security and authentication, NetOp can make use of a database to administer security for both guests and hosts. Although this eliminates the need to manage security on each PC and reduces security risks associated with remote control, it adds another layer of administration for the enterprise.

Services

The browsing tool to locate available hosts on the network can employ filters using string variables to search for host names. NetOp lists hosts found matching the string for selection. Your network may have thousands of nodes available as hosts at any one time.

Other services include:

? Version 6.5 includes a powerful, yet easy to use, scripting tool for unattended file transfer or launching applications

? Audio warning and /or display of information box upon the remote control of your PC

? Optional information box with list of who has connected to the PC

? Host shows which Guest is currently controlling the host

? You can type messages to remote users or Speak with the Host user using your PCs microphone and speakers. NetOp offers configuration parameters to optimize sound, volume, and audio compression (Codec).

? Whether for security reasons or simply to document sessions, the session recording feature comes in handy for tracking exactly what has occurred on the Host PC. Using the recording tool it is simple to record and view remote control sessions initiated with a Host

Cost

NetOp Remote Control for Windows 6.0 = $165

Pricing per seat:

1,000 standard hosts (each) = $29.00

10 guests (each) = $119.50

Total $30,195

Information

http://www.netopremotecontrol.com/

Funk Software?s ?Proxy? version 3.02

Platforms and protocols supported

The Proxy Master must run on a PC with at least a 386 processor and Windows 3.1 (enhanced mode), 95, 98, Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0 (workstation or server).

You may use Proxy over any type of network ? including dial-up, Ethernet, token ring, and FDDI that supports the IP or IPX standard protocols. The following conditions apply:

o IP is a general-purpose protocol supported on a wide variety of networks and servers. To enable communication using IP:

o On Windows 3.1, you need a WinSock 1.1 compliant IP stack.

o On Windows 95 or Windows 98, you need the Microsoft TCP/IP Protocol (included with Windows 95 or 98), or you may use another TDI compliant IP stack.

o On Windows NT, you need the Microsoft TCP/IP Protocol (included with Windows NT), or you may use another WinSock 2 compliant IP stack.

o IPX usually runs on networks using Novell NetWare. To enable communication-using IPX, it is not necessary to log in any PC to a NetWare server, nor is it necessary to run a NetWare client. Instead:

o On Windows 3.1, you need the Novell 16-bit or 32-bit client IPX protocol.

o On Windows 95 or Windows 98, you need the Microsoft IPX/SPX Compatible Protocol (included with Windows 95 or 98), or you may use the Novell Client-32 IPX protocol.

o On Windows NT, you need the Microsoft NWLink IPX/SPX Compatible Transport (included with Windows NT).

o On DOS, you need a DOS-based IPX-compatible protocol stack, and a 16-bit NetWare Client that uses either NetX or VLM.

o On a NetWare File Server, IPX is already loaded.

Installation and resources required

Sean Doherty (2000) states in his examination of software for Network Computing Magazine that, ?Funk Proxy received the highest marks in our tests for a network installation to multiple hosts.?

Use as Diagnostic Tool

The Proxy Master is a Windows application that allows a user to take control of another PC on the network via a direct, peer-to-peer connection.

File transfer is new to Proxy. The simple interface provides options for get, put, delete, create directory, move and rename. According to Sean Doherty (2000), file transfer over the network and modem were adequate, but slower than that of the other products we tested. Take note that the file-transfer mechanism will overwrite existing files without warning. It finished last, in Sean Doherty (2000) tests for file transfer.

The Proxy Host is a program that allows a PC to accept connections from Proxy Masters. Issue the Connect command, and Proxy scans the network to locate the host workstations available. You simply select the PC or PCs that you want to take over from the list of workstation names that Proxy displays.

Use Proxy Command Files to make one or more PCs accessible from within a 32-bit web browser. This is the easiest way to provide widespread access to specialized PCs, and eliminates the need to set up specialized connections on each user?s PC.

Blank the Host?s screen when you connect. This allows you to open and edit documents on the Host PC, which may be sensitive or confidential, and remain unobserved while you work.

The software shows each PC that you take over its own continuously updated window. You can switch from controlling one PC to the next simply by activating the appropriate window. Record and play back agent screens, for training and evaluation

Automatically reboot your Host PC upon disconnects. This allows you to automatically reset the Host PC when you explicitly disconnect, or when your connection fails for another reason.

Additional features that aid in remote diagnostics:

o Drag-and-drop to transfer files between your Master and Host PCs, or between different directories on the Host

o Print from an application on the Host to a printer attached to your Master PC

o Copy text and graphics from the Host PC to the Master

o Remotely reboot the Host

o Use the Create Shortcut command to save any connection to an icon

o Set up tasks to automate any process, for example to connect to a Host and launch an application

Display

Proxy?s ability to render colors accurately depends on the capabilities of the Windows display driver. The most accurate color reproduction occurs when the Master?s color capability matches or exceeds that of the host PC.

Interoperability

Proxy does not include a user manager. It lacks enterprise wide user administration capabilities.

Any Master and Host can connect to each other via a direct, peer-to-peer connection, as long as they each use the same protocol (IP or IPX) over the connection. The operating system platforms for Master and Host do not need to be the same:

Proxy also lets you directly connect over phone lines to a PC at another location, for comprehensive access to files and applications stored on that PC.

Proxy automatically knows what modem you are using, for the easiest set-up. And, it stores the 10 most recent phone numbers dialed in a dropdown menu, for easy one-click access to a remote PC, Proxy also includes advanced data compression that ensures you of the fastest performance, whatever type of connection you use.

Security

The developers of the software built multiple advanced security options into Proxy, so you can govern access to your Host PC. You can set a password on your PC. You can set your PC to beep when a Proxy Master connects, or while a session is in progress. No one can observe your PC’s screen without your knowledge.

You have the capability to configure hosts for a number of security options. These included permit or deny connections, lockout connections, and lockout or permit connections based on time configuration. The host can also require guests to obtain their permission before remotely controlling the host. If the host receives a request to control from a guest and does not respond after a set time, the host may grant the permission by default or disconnect the guest. For even more control, you can set specific times and days of the week during which your PC may be taken over. For example, you may permit usage of your PC after hours and on weekends, but prohibit access while you are at work.

For maximum access security, you can even require that a Master PC that wishes to connect to your PC explicitly request your permission before taking you over. If you deny permission, the Proxy Master can’t connect, even if it knows your password and is attempting to connect during permitted times.

Proxy also lets you guarantee the privacy of the work you are performing on a Host PC. These features are particularly useful when you are running Proxy over a remote node dial-in connection, and may be operating an unattended PC on the LAN.

Services

On Windows 3.1, Windows 95, and Windows 98, when you first start the Proxy Master, you will notice that, unlike most Windows applications, this one does not have a menu bar. Instead, all commands are contained in the Proxy control menu. This allows more space for showing the screen of the Host PC. To issue a Proxy command, click the Proxy control menu icon in the upper left corner of the Proxy window. The Proxy control menu displays and you may select the appropriate command.

Proxy offers several capabilities that simplify your remote control session. You can:

o Drag-and-drop to transfer files between your Master and Host PCs, or between different directories on the Host

o Print from an application on the Host to a printer attached to your Master PC

o Copy text and graphics from the Host PC to the Master

o Remotely reboot the Host

o Use the Create Shortcut command to save any connection to an icon

o Set up tasks to automate any process, for example to connect to a Host and launch an application

o Use Proxy Command Files to make one or more PCs accessible from within a 32-bit web browser. This is the easiest way to provide widespread access to specialized PCs, and eliminates the need to set up specialized connections on each user?s PC.

Moreover, Proxy includes advanced data compression that ensures you of the fastest performance, whatever type of connection you use.

Cost

Proxy 3.02 starts at $175.

Pricing per seat:

1,000 standard hosts (each) = $14.50

10 guests (each) = $75

Total $15,250

Information

http://www.funk.com/new_one/PRCG/ds_prcg.htm

Laplink.com?s ?Laplink 2000?

Platforms and protocols supported

Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows 95, and Windows NT 4.0

Connectivity:

TXP/IP and IPX networks, Parallel and serial Cables, Wireless, including Fast-infrared, Internet, Modem to modem, and Dial-Up Networking

Installation and resources required

Pre-configure the basic setup for silent installation and then distribute this customized setup to end users for installation. The LapLink Host icon appears only in the Windows system tray, so end users do not need to know it is running.

Requirements:

Intel 486DS, 100Mhz, 16 MB of RAM, 15 MB hard disk, VGA monitor, and Sound card for Voice Chat

Use as Diagnostic Tool

Synchronize data between various PCs. Run database applications. Operate, maintain and even reboot PCs or servers. LapLink Gold lets you do it all remotely with a single software solution! You can, remotely operate a PC, establish up to 15 simultaneous remote control sessions, retrieve files, access network resource, execute all desktop applications, exchange written messages with remote users via Text Chat, talk to remote users via Voice Chat, and use remote resources, such as network printers or servers Maintains a complete log of all connections. It monitors and records users called, files transferred, security violations and more.

Laplink has the following file capabilities :

? Move, copy or transfer files and folders using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface

? Resume file transfer right where it was interrupted, saving time

? Transfer just the updated portion of a file with LoapLink?s patented SpeedSync?

? Synchronize folders automatically and schedule unattended file transfers

Interoperability

LapLink provides two bonus connection options: Link to Net and Internet Directory Option. Link to Net allows a guest to link to a host to access the Internet, a LAN or other LapLink computers. This feature points out where remote control meets remote access. You use a LapLink host as a remote access point to locate other LapLink hosts or link to the LAN or the Internet. Although password protected, the Link to Net connection could open security holes. A better route would be a dedicated, secure remote access server, such as NetOp’s Access Server, providing one point for remote access and authentication.

The Internet Directory Option compares to pcAnywhere support for directory services. It lets hosts register a name with an Internet directory server. By default, hosts can register with LapLink’s directory server using their e-mail address.

At your desk or traveling the globe, LapLink gives you the ease of quick access to all of your network resources and to files stored on your desktop PC. Access files with reassuring security and transfer at lightning speeds. Unlike pcAnywhere and ReachOut, LapLink lacks NT Domain integration.

Security

Password protection set during silent installation ensures that users only use LapLink Host to receive authorized technical support. The software prevents users from making their own outbound connections. In addition, you can configure a local password to prevent users from closing LapLink Host, ensuring that you can connect at any time. Laplink provides Multi-level DES encryption, including Microsoft?s CryptoAPI; software has lockout protection for password failure, and folder-level security designated by the user.

Services

o Connection to DSL

o Automation of file transfers

o Two-way file exchange to update files at both locations

o Prevention of deleted files recreation during synchronization

o Up to three PC installation from one purchased product

o Installation of Windows 2000 Advanced Server

Cost

Downloadable: $129.95

Physical Shipments: $169.95

Pricing per seat:

1,000 standard hosts (each) = $45

10 guests (each) = $101.99

Total $46,020

Information

http://laplink.com/products/llgold/overview.asp

Stac Software?s ?ReachOut Enterprise? version 8.42

Platforms and protocols supported

ReachOut can handle just about any remote-networking configuration. ReachOut Enterprise is available in a network-only or modem/network version. The latter supports modem-to-modem, LAN, Internet, and ISDN connections. When it comes to linking the host and viewer, five methods are available, starting with straight modem, ISDN and network links using TCP/IP, IPX or NetBIOS protocols. The software also provides support for direct cable connection, and you can use the software over dial-up links configured using a range of remote access hardware and software. The supporting platform can be either Windows NT or 95/98 – a unified install routine works out what platform you use and loads the necessary modules to suit. Support for older Windows 3.1 and DOS systems is also available, and there is a browser plug-in, known as ReachOut Passport, for viewers only. This supports the same features and user interface, but allows you to connect to hosts over an Internet or intranet connection using a Web browser.

Installation and resources required

ReachOut provides a typical, compact or custom install. A typical installation requires 7,382 KB of disk space; the compact edition requires 2.13 MB. ReachOut makes use of a small memory footprint to provide a full-featured remote control product, lacking only audio chat and the ability to record sessions. The program provides a series of wizards that ease installation and configuration. During the installation on Windows 95clients, however, you have to update your Winsock to Version 2.0 in order to use IPX and TCP/IP protocols.

An automated network installation creates an encrypted security file imported into the NT registry or a shared folder under Windows 95 networking. You can modify the encrypted file?s default security setting. Changes take effect the next time a user logs into the network. ReachOut also has scripts that can work with any type of network installation, even when performed with setup disks. You can insert scripts that configure host and remote operations into a text file read during installation.

Use as Diagnostic Tool

Despite being a very comprehensive package, in practice ReachOut is straightforward to use. You complete much of the setup using wizards, for example, you can configure icons to open up each connection, and there is a useful phonebook for those who need to connect to a range of remote systems. In additions, there is an Explorer-like file transfer option and a window through which it is possible to simultaneously chat with a remote operator.

The zero admin host service features launch the host component on a system when it is turned on. The host component resides quietly in the background, so a help desk administrator can easily take control of the system for troubleshooting. ReachOut allows remote control from a Web browser. This allows support staff to troubleshoot and fix problems on several host platforms across many types of connections.

It also allows centralized management of the entire network. There are problems with file transfers though. There is a bug that prevents the delta file transfer from working properly. There is also a problem with synchronization. When a file and a directory had the same name, transfers didn’t take place. It is intuitive, but has some rough edges.

Interoperability

Performance will depend on the type of connection, with an Internet session likely to be the slowest (although some have a little trouble with any of the connections that are set up). Wide ranges of customization options are available to boost throughput.

There are also options to limit what you can do with the software, all of which you can configure centrally. Few remote control packages match ReachOut in terms of platform support or the variety of ways in which you can link remote systems.

Security

A proprietary encryption algorithm is employed to make sessions as secure as possible, and it’s possible to manage security centrally, with ReachOut able to authenticate remote users using domain security on NT systems. For Windows 95 and 98, ReachOut provides a User Manager that issues user accounts and passwords for guests. Under NT, ReachOut can use NT’s user manager to set permissions by user or group and allow for maximum password aging, grace logons after password expires and minimum password lengths.

ReachOut boasts many security features. It can require logons; force disconnects after a set time or after a number of bad logon attempts, and requires hosts to call back guests. ItOne option is to configure it to disconnect callers after no activity for a specified time and, after a configurable number of bad logon attempts from all users or one user, it activates an IntruderGuard to deny all logons until the guard resets at the host’s console.

You can now set ReachOut rights for any user group including those you have defined yourself.

The ReachOut Event Viewer installs under WindowsNT as well as under Windows 95/98. The ReachOut log allows some additional information to be included in the events.

It also includes Network Associates’ McAfee VirusScan for protection when transferring files. Windows NT hosts have the options of using either Microsoft’s local security model or ReachOut Enterprise’s. ReachOut supports both Entrust and Entrust/Lite version 3.0, to verify users before allowing them to make remote access connections. Entrust also provides encryption for all communication between hosts and guests. However, this reduces the speed of remote control sessions.

Services

ReachOut is a remote control and file transfer application that can support teleworkers in a number of ways. For example, home users and other teleworkers can use it to access their desktop PCs on the office network, and so run applications remotely, access their email and shared databases, and so on. ReachOut Passport lets users connect to a host over an intranet or the Internet without having the remote-control software installed locally. Instead, a guest can establish a connection via Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Communicator.

A scripting tool automates tasks. This tool is not for novices. ReachOut requires you to create batch files in a separate text editor. Scripting can automate synchronizing files, prompt users, display message boxes, and send keystrokes. ReachOut uses a scripting language similar to DOS batch files. ReachOut’s file-transfer and synchronization utility is easy to use, but there are some bugs.

Although it does not provide for a confirmation box after transfer, it offers a SmartSend feature comparable to LapLink. SmartSend transfers only the differences found between matching files identified in a source and destination folders and updates the files on the target computer. Stac has also added some compelling features for corporate help desks and system administration. If you have Systems Management Server installed on your server and other computers in your network, you can install ReachOut silently on computers without any input from the users.

A new Quick Connect item added to the ReachOut Actions menu prompts you for connection information, but does not create a connection icon. The reason for this is to make a fast connection that you do not need to store in your address book. ReachOut now allows you to specify a set of Hosts as the target for a single connection icon. If a set of computers is ready to receive incoming calls, you can specify the entire set as the target. ReachOut will hunt for any available host from the specified group. You can specify the names as a list or, if they have an appropriate name, or an appropriate IP addresses, use an expression or a range to specify the waiting host computers. ReachOut will start with a random member of the set and continue checking until it finds an available ReachOut computer or has checked all the hosts.

The ReachOut Encryption tool lets you set encryption codes that determine which copies of ReachOut can connect with one another. By default, all copies of ReachOut use the same encryption codes. If you change the encryption codes on one ReachOut computer, only other ReachOut computers with the same encryption codes can connect to it.

The connection icon editor lets you create and edit ReachOut connection icons without running ReachOut itself. This is useful if you want to create icons to distribute with the ReachOut Setup program.

A phone book conversion utility lets you update phone books (or connection icons) from earlier versions of ReachOut to the new connection icon format. You can convert from ReachOut from NT, ReachOut for 95, ReachOut for Windows & DOS.

The ReachOut FTP tools are standard FTP utilities that let you transfer files over the Internet. These programs are not part of a regular ReachOut installation but are included as separate items on the CD-ROM. You can use them to copy files to or from any Internet site, even if ReachOut is not installed at the other end.

Cost

ReachOut Enterprise 8.42 costs about $169.

Pricing per seat:

1,000 standard hosts (each) = $28

10 guests (each) = $28

Total $28,280

Information

http://support.stac.com/technote/ROE/default.asp

Symantec?s ?PcAnywhere? version 10

Platforms and protocols supported

Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000

Installation and resources required

pcAnywhere’s installation wizard takes you through an effortless install that provides both guest and host functions in one package. The wizard recognized and utilized all Windows components. We were pleasantly surprised to find a live update utility at the end of the installation that offered to obtain the latest changes to pcAnywhere. The utility found our underlying network connection, accessed pcAnywhere’s FTP site, and refreshed our installation with updated files. However, it did not inform us of changes to our base installation taking up more than 30.8 MB.

Administrators won’t be cringing when it comes time to roll out this product on the network either. pcAnywhere has a custom-configuration utility for network installations. You simply pop in the corporate CD, which gives you a graphical utility to select and manage host and guest options for installations–even silent installations. This utility eliminates the need to master a script file for automatic installations. Both NetOp and ReachOut Enterprise require script files for automatic installations. With pcAnywhere, installing multiple users almost as easy as installing one user.

Windows 2000 Professional

o 133MHz Pentium or higher processor

o 64 MB of RAM

o 30 MB of available hard disk space

o VGA or higher-resolution monitor

o CD-ROM drive

Windows Millennium Edition? and Windows? NT?4/98/95

o Pentium or higher processor150MHz (Pentium or higher processor for ME)

o 32 MB of RAM

o 30 MB of available hard disk space

o VGA or higher-resolution monitor

o CD-ROM drive

Use as Diagnostic Tool

Connect to a remote host PC and its desktop appears in a window on your remote PC. From there, you can launch applications and open files on the host PC just as if you were sitting in front of the computer itself.

One of its best features its crisp, clutter free interface. Its four large toolbar icons let you designate your office PC as the host, so you can connect to it remotely or connect with and control another computer. These icons also let you set access options and (for Windows NT/2000 users only) build installation packages that add PcAnywhere to other systems.

Although the default connection items allow for remote control sessions and add a minimum level of security, pcAnywhere really shines in the array of configuration tasks available from the Tools menu. A user-defined computer name can replace the default Windows computer name. The default video mode can be adjusted, color scale can be set from two to 16,797,216 colors, and cache file size can be manipulated. In addition, one can allow connections to multiple hosts and optimize the desktop for remote control using discreet selections.

You solve user problems directly by remotely controlling their systems. OLE, automation allows VARs to integrate PcAnywhere functionality into custom solutions. Both IT groups and VARs will benefit from the new PcAnywhere Packager utility, which lets you produce customized installation sets to decrease installation size and enforce corporate security and access policies.

One pcAnywhere has is that no longer has the integrated virus checking such as for instance, DOS and Windows 3.1. Therefore, if those operating systems are used, one should use the previous version, 9.2.

Interoperability

Once pcAnywhere installs, a graphical utility an administrator can enforce network policies, distribute, and maintain applications. Note that the host administrator requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 or later. Windows integration is a good thing, but it should not be a constraint. Symantec should add other browsers to support host administration in the enterprise. You can link host and remote PCs within your organization over whatever connection you wish, including LAN, VPN, and dial-up, through a special code that prevents hackers from using other copies PcAnywhere to gain access.

pcAnywhere also provides a mechanism for hosts to search LDAP directories for connection information. This functionality utilizes a Netscape Directory Server 4.0 or Novell NetWare 5x LDAP modules.

Security

PcAnywhere’s greatest downfall is that it still does not let you password-protect individual folders or files. You can limit access only by drive–an all-or-nothing deal.

Other than this minor glitch, the software gets rave reviews for security performance. It offers more security features than any other remote control application, outdoing itself in previous versions. Mandatory passwords stop unauthorized users from accessing a PcAnywhere host, and authentication options now consist of FTP, HTTP, HTTPS, generic LDAP, ADS, NDS, Novell Bindery, and NT domains. You can use these new authentication options to verify the identity of the remote caller via Windows 2000?s Active Directory, HTTPS, and Novell Directory Services. By doing that, it allows companies the option of choosing what method best suits its network setup. In addition, for additional protection, PcAnywhere creates a log of every file accessed, every application launched, and all of its own activities.

Services

PcAnywhere 10.0 includes an optimization wizard to help you accelerate user sessions. It suggests various ways that performance can be improved, such as reducing the number of colors on the host?s screen or removing active desktops, screen savers, and wallpaper. Surprisingly simple changes such as these can dramatically increase the speed of your remote control sessions.

If fast downloading is of primary importance, this software finds, downloads, and uploads the files rapidly. The Goto, Tag, and directory history features let you quickly navigate directories on both machines. SpeedSend? technology expedites file transfers by only sending the sections that have changed since the last time someone transferred the file. In addition, improved AutoTransfer technology makes it a breeze to transfer and synchronize files automatically.

It’s easier to move multiple files with PcAnywhere’s file-transfer utility than with the Windows Explorer because it provides a history of recently accessed directories in a small, drop-down menu under the toolbar. One click on any of the folders in the list immediately brings up that directory in the file-transfer window so that you can easily move files to another directory from your remote desktop to the remote PC.

Cost

$179.95

Pricing per seat:

1,000 standard hosts (each) = $45

10 guests (each) = $61

Total $45,610

Information

www.symantec.com/pcanywhere

Timbuktu Pro Enterprise 2.1.2

Platforms and protocols supported

Through Netopia’s patented technologies, Timbuktu Pro is the only remote control software that supports inter-connectivity between Windows NT 4.0,Windows 9x,Windows 2000,and Mac OS.

High Speed Communication: Timbuktu Pro 2000 works over Internet, LAN, WAN, dial up, DSL or RAS connections. Incorporating new remote control advancements Timbuktu Pro 2000 is supposed to be faster than ever.

Installation and resources required

Timbuktu has an automated network installation that can be complicated by using scripts to refine installed features. Timbuktu requires:

o 16 MB Ram

o 20 MB hard disk space available for Win 9x

o 50 MB hard disk space available for Win NT/2000

Use as Diagnostic Tool

Computer support personnel who currently must run all over the building to correct problems can sit in one location, and either observe the end-user demonstrating the problem or take control of the end-user’s computer, correcting the problem remotely. You can add or delete missing or extraneous files from other computers without FTP, AppleShare, or File Sharing. Simultaneous multiple networking protocols are supported, so Macs on LocalTalk, NT servers on TCP/IP, and Windows 95 stations on Novell networks can all connect, observe, or control each other.

With Timbuktu Pro 2000, you can now take advantage of new communication features such as voice over IP and a new chat feature, which will allow for high-speed text based communication for those of us without soundcards and speakers on our workstations.

Interoperability

Unlike many of the other RC applications available for Windows only, Timbuktu Pro allows you to control an office PC from your home Mac or PC, and allows you to control a remote NT server as well. Through Netopia’s patented V-wedge and IntelliScreen technology, Timbuktu Pro is the only remote control software that supports inter-connectivity between Windows NT 4.0 & 3.51, Windows 2000, Windows 9x and 3.x, and Mac OS. Timbuktu Pro’s remote control technology is device independent and does not replace video drivers or load TSRs. This results in a higher performing, more stable, and less intrusive remote control solution.

Security

Timbuktu Pro now integrates directly with Windows NT security allowing administrators to leverage the security already deployed within their environment. Timbuktu Pro also provides separate user defined and administrator defined options to virtually guarantee the integrity of the enterprise Intranet.

Timbuktu Pro?s ironclad security provides state-of ?the-art secure screen blanking, password encryption, user level defined privileges, password ageing, event logging, master password protection, and more. The attended access feature prompts users to ask for permission before attempting to control your computer or admission as a temporary guest. Timbuktu Pro 2000 integrates with NT Security lists to help ease password management and administration.

NT 3.51 and NT 4.0 systems can employ secure screen blanking. This feature freezes the screen on the host system with the display of a “Workstation Locked” or “Begin Login” dialog box. No one can look at the screen of your server or workstation while you are away.

In addition, if your dial-up connection to the server is severed, Timbuktu Pro automatically “locks” the NT system to prevent unauthorized access.

Services

With Timbuktu Pro 2000 you can access the hard drive of any remote machine and transfer to or from it. If you cannot find the file, let Timbuktu Pro 2000 find it for you with its file find feature built right into Timbuktu Pro?s exchange.

Webmasters can directly control their Macintosh or NT web server from their office or home computer. Edit web pages on your computer at home or work and use Timbuktu Pro’s file transferring to put the new or edited pages in place. Checking the web server logs from home is simple, and setting up new users and other server maintenance chores can be performed from your home, office, or while you’re on the road at a web conference. People who use desktop AFS and web authoring software on their PCs can extend this functionality to their home computer (i.e., by writing the web pages on the home machine and using Timbuktu Pro’s file transfer software to place the pages on your AFS-based network drive on the office computer.)

Road warriors can connect to their office desktop systems for file retrieval, presentation creation, and working with colleagues on collaborative projects. Checking client/server databases from the road or checking LAN-based or protected e-mail is quick and easy from your laptop. Timbuktu facilitates printing reports on the office laser printer from the road. FlashNotes pop-up messages can get your notes on your colleagues’ screens immediately, when waiting for them to check their e-mail will not do. You can send files to users without tying up the e-mail server at the office.

Cost

$ 145.00

Pricing per seat:

1,000 standard hosts (each) = $40

10 guests (each) = $55

Total $40550

Information

http://www.netopia.com/software/products/tb2/enterprise/

Conclusions

Comparisons

Platforms and protocols supported

NetOp scored well in this area. It supports all platforms except Macintosh or Windows Me.

Funk?s ? Proxy software was deficient in the protocols and platforms supported. It would not operate on Macintosh, DOS or OS2 platform.

As with NetOp, Laplink would not work on Macintosh platform but unlike NetOp it did work with Windows Me.

ReachOut does not support OS2 or Macintosh platforms.

PcAnywhere does not support the OS2 or Macintosh platforms.

Timbuktu Pro is the only remote control software that supports inter-connectivity between Windows NT 4.0,Windows 9x,Windows 2000,Windows Me, OS2, and Mac OS.

Installation and resources required

NetOp had one of the highest grades in this area for its capabilities to start operations without rebooting and the ?read me? file that showed all installed files. In addition, you can install NetOp programs on targeted remote computers.

Proxy had best installation.

Laplink is the only product that does not have an automated network installation.

ReachOut conducts an automated network installation and there is a small memory footprint.

PcAnywhere installation is quiet simple. It has an automated network install. The Only problem is that it uses too much memory space.

Timbuktu has a automated network installation that can be complicated by using scripts to refine installed features.

Use as Diagnostic Tool

NetOp?s ?Help Desk? feature, the ability to conduct audio and video chats, scripting utility and the file transfer interface, make NetOp the best in this area.

Proxy seemed to have a good array of diagnostic tools but file transfer was slow and problems in deletion of files caused low score.

Although Laplink is, slow in transferring screen displays and keyboard and mouse controls the software has very useful diagnostic capabilities. One of these is the ability to log all transactions.

ReachOut offers a host of tools to make diagnostic activities easier and more effective. These include: simultaneous chat with remote operator, the zero admin host service, and remote control through a web browser to name a few. If there were not problems with the file transfer capabilities, it would have rated tops in this area.

PcAnywhere really shines in the array of configuration tasks available and OLE, automation allows VARs to integrate PcAnywhere functionality into custom solutions. These factors and others combine to put pcAnywhere in a tie with NetOp for first in this area.

Timbuktu has features similar to NetOp.

Interoperability

By itself, NetOp has very good capabilities for interoperability. However, the ?Gateway? module interacts with NetOp to provide an extremely high level of network interoperability. The only trouble is that it is a different program.

In this category ?Proxy ?did not do well. It has no capabilities for working out of the windows environment. On top of this, the software has no enterprise wide user administration capabilities.

Laplink?s ?Link to Net? and ?Internet Directory? options help the interoperability scores. But the inability to perform NT network integration detracts from the score.

ReachOut does well in this category but we think it fails to completely live up to its name ?Enterprise?. With automated network installation, remote control through web browsers, NT network integration it is still a formidable tool.

Use pcAnywhere in a variety of network and enterprise situations. It integrates well with NT and

Timbuktu does extremely well in this area also. High speed connect ability, and the ability to deal with every type platform makes it the choice for this area.

Security

NetOp has some very good features. The ability to allow guests to have a default set of privileges or users receive individual privileges. Its only major drawback include the inability to centralize security and authentication administration

Security for ?Proxy? seems to be adequate. We saw problems with the host having the capabilities to deny permission for the guest to take over the host.

Laplink?s security is adequate but not as extensive as the NetOp features.

ReachOut has some of the same security features that pcAnywhere has but does not quite match its level of security.

PcAnywhere’s greatest downfall is that it still does not let you password-protect individual folders or files. Even considering this it still outshines the competition in this area.

Services

NetOp has a full array of services that makes it one of the leading competitors in this area. We especially like the guest tool bar and the marker function.

Proxy services are adequate but still do not compare with the other software.

Laplink has a good amount of services but does not compare to NetOp.

ReachOut had an impressive amount of services and came in second in this category.

PcAnywhere?s has a full menu of services. It ties for second place in this area.

Timbuktu has an impressive list of services also, but they seem to be geared to a remote user having access to the home office?s services.

Costs

In the area of costs the software packages ranged from $130 to $175 dollars with Laplink being the cheapest. When you take into account the price per seat costs, you get quite a different story.

Table 1 Costs of Software and Licenses

Final Results

Overall, our testing of remote control software revealed a field of well-matched players. The order in which they finished was:

1. NetOp with 62 points

2. ReachOut and Timbuktu tied for 2d place with 60 points each

3. pcAnywhere came in 3d with 60 points

4. Proxy came in 4th with 55 points

5. Laplink brought up the rear with a total of 53 points.

The Problems

When we have the capabilities to monitor the activities of anyone on a network, the first problem that most American people think of is invasion of privacy.

Bibliography

Morris, John. 1998. Remote control software: You can?t get there from here.

PC Magazine, 1 September, 58-70.

Doherty, Sean. 2000. Remote Control Saves Steps. Network Computing

Magazine, 7 February, 35-48

PC Magazine Labs Report. Teleworking ReachOut Enterprise 8.

http://www.zdnet.co.uk/pcmag/supp/2000/teleworking/49.html

Reachout Enterprise. User’s Guide Supplement Version 8.42.

http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/features/remotecontrol/rev7.html

Kawamoto, Wayne. New! Software.Stac ReachOut 7 vs. MicrocomCarbon Copy 32.

http://www.zdnet.com/pccomp/sneakpeeks/snpk0697/remote.html

Table 2 Software Characteristics

Morris, John. 1998. Remote control software: You can?t get there from here.

PC Magazine, 1 September, 58-70.

Doherty, Sean. 2000. Remote Control Saves Steps. Network Computing

Magazine, 7 February, 35-48

PC Magazine Labs Report. Teleworking ReachOut Enterprise 8.

http://www.zdnet.co.uk/pcmag/supp/2000/teleworking/49.html

Reachout Enterprise. User’s Guide Supplement Version 8.42.

http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/features/remotecontrol/rev7.html

Kawamoto, Wayne. New! Software.Stac ReachOut 7 vs. MicrocomCarbon Copy 32.

http://www.zdnet.com/pccomp/sneakpeeks/snpk0697/remote.html

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