LogMeIn review: LogMeIn

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Free service available; guest-invite and file-sharing capabilities; works on Mac and Linux clients.

The Bad No whiteboard support in guest-invite feature.

The Bottom Line LogMeIn's excellent features and performance, not to mention its free service, rank it at the top of remote access solutions.

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8.0 Overall
  • Setup and interface 7.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Service and support 8.0

LogMeIn

LogMeIn is an online service that lets you control a host computer from any Internet-connected computer in the world, be it Windows, Mac, Linux, or Pocket PC mobile devices. Unlike the more familiar Citrix GoToMyPC, LogMeIn offers a robust free version that's better than WebEx MyWebEx PC's free version. And in contrast to the much more expensive GoToMyPC, LogMeIn Pro costs only $12.95 for fast, secure remote access that includes remote printing, file transfer, and a file-sharing service that lets you quickly and securely serve files to anyone from your host PC. By matching GoToMyPC and MyWebPC, LogMeIn emerges as the better remote access choice. If you need to log in to your home or work computer remotely and you want complete control of your host PC, just as if you were sitting in front of its monitor, we recommend LogMeIn. LogMeIn's installation starts with your host computer, the computer you want to reach remotely. Using the LogMeIn Web site, select either a free or paid account, click Add Computer, and follow the step-by-step instructions on the site to download and install the server applet on the host computer. This will place an icon in your Windows system tray that offers a few options, such as disabling the LogMeIn software and checking for updates. You can also change these options remotely through the company's Web site.


LogMeIn's clean interface makes it easy to navigate its many features.

When away from the host PC, use any Windows, Mac, Linux, or Pocket PC Internet browser to log on to the LogMeIn Web site and select your host computer. LogMeIn automatically downloads the client software onto your remote client and connects you to your host computer. The software then asks for your host computer's Windows login and password. Next, you'll see three icons (for the free version) or six icons (for the paid version) across your browser window. Click the Remote Control icon to see the desktop of your host PC, which will look like it does when you are in front of the host monitor, with the addition of a left-hand navigation area. A three-button toolbar--Full Screen, Ctrl-Alt-Delete, and Display--hovers near the top of the display. By clicking Full Screen, the left-hand navigation disappears, and your remote display becomes that of the host computer. The single Ctrl-Alt-Delete button is useful for unlocking and locking your host computer. Time to log out? A discreet floating toolbar decreases your display, and the left-hand navigation lets you disconnect with the click of a single button.

Like other remote access solutions we've tested, LogMeIn lets you do practically anything on your remote PC that you could do if you were sitting at the host computer. You can install software, change the system configuration, and even schedule the system to reboot at a convenient time. The file transfer utility lets you copy or synchronize files and directories between the host and the remote system, and remote printing lets you print seamlessly from an application on the host system to a remote printer; it's as if the remote printer were connected directly to the host.

Not only can you access your PC from the road, LogMeIn Pro lets you invite a guest to access your PC while you are in front of it. The guest can either watch your screen in view-only mode or share control with you, a useful feature for tech support and training. Though the software includes text chat capability, LogMeIn lacks whiteboard functionality, something currently offered by GoToMyPC. LogMeIn says that it intends to add whiteboard capabilities in the near future.



The File Share feature lets people download large files from your computer without creating security risks.

Unique to LogMeIn is the File Share feature that lets you share files from your PC while maintaining system security. Using the LogMeIn Web interface, select the file you want to share, then give LogMeIn a list of e-mail addresses of intended recipients. Each recipient will receive an e-mail with a link to LogMeIn's site where they can download the file. Though the download is served via your PC, security is maintained through LogMeIn's servers.

In addition, LogMeIn offers a variety of innovative security options to keep unauthorized users from accessing your system. Like GoToMyPC, LogMeIn generates a list of passwords for one-time use, which comes in handy if you're using a public PC and you're afraid your password could be stolen. LogMeIn supports RSA SecurID, a hardware security dongle used by many larger companies. Like MyWebEx PC, you can also configure LogMeIn to e-mail a one-time-use password to your e-mail-capable cell phone or wireless PDA, adding an extra layer of security. LogMeIn also can create recordings of everything that goes on during a remote session, letting you create an AVI file of what occurred during that session.

Remote access solutions need to balance speed with image quality; reproducing true color graphics slows things down considerably. LogMeIn defaults to a low-color mode, which means pictures will look banded and unnatural, but it offers an easy on-the-fly option to change it to higher-quality graphics. We wish all remote access solutions would offer such flexibility; GoToMyPC is limited to 256 colors, while MyWebEx PC offers only true color support.

LogMeIn takes a different approach to security than GoToMyPC and MyWebEx PC. Those solutions route all traffic through their centrally managed servers; there's never a direct connection between the remote PC and the host. LogMeIn handles authentication via its servers, providing each PC with an encryption key to use only during that session, but then hands off the connection. The resulting peer-to-peer connection promises better performance, since data doesn't have to travel first to a centralized server. Since all data is sent using industry-standard SSL encryption, the integrity of the data shouldn't be compromised, though some users might prefer the centralized security monitoring of GoToMyPC and MyWebEx PC.

We found the technical support from LogMeIn generous. Both paying customers and free subscribers are entitled to LogMeIn's e-mail support, through which the company attempts to respond within 24 hours. All subscribers are entitled to free updates whenever a new version of the software is released. The site also offers extensive online help, manuals, and a useful FAQ.

LogMeIn Pro uses a subscription-based model; you pay a monthly or yearly fee to continue using the service. The fee entitles you to unlimited free phone technical support, available 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. If a customer service representative isn't immediately available, customers can leave a message and be called back.

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