GoToMyPC 4.1Citrix GoToMyPC 4.1, a service that links you to a remote host computer from any Internet-connected computer anywhere in the world, now includes improved support for Pocket PC mobile devices, Windows, Mac OS, and Linux and network installation, but we were disappointed to see that the software remains limited to 256-color support, making photos and color graphics look discolored and banded over the remote connection. With more and more people accessing their remote PCs over broadband Internet connections, this is a pretty big failing. By comparison, relative newcomer WebEx MyWebEx PC offers not only true color support, but also a free, feature-limited version, and the paid version of MyWebEx PC costs half as much as GoToMyPC. Among Windows-based users and small businesses, we think MyWebEx PC is a much better buy. On the corporate side, however, GoToMyPC Corporate edition, with its comprehensive user management features, remains our preferred option for IT administrators. GoToMyPC installs over the Web through a very simple process. You either create your own account on GoToMyPC.com or have one created for you by your system administrator if your business already subscribes to a GoToMyPC plan. Then, via the GoToMyPC Web site, simply download and install a tiny piece of software on the host computer (that is, the computer you'll access from afar). Once installed, GoToMyPC installs an icon in the system tray of the host PC. Right-click the icon, then select Preferences to configure settings, such as your password or choice of local or remote printers.
To access your host PC from the road, simply log on to the www.GoToMyPC.com Web site using any Web browser. If your host computer is turned on, you'll see it listed as available for connection. Click the Connect button to download and run the client software on your remote Windows, Mac OS, or Linux machine. Simply enter your password, and you'll see a new window on your desktop displaying your host Windows PC desktop, just as if you were sitting in front of that monitor. Pull-down menus at the top of the window let you control features such as file transfer and zoom.
On the flip side, when sitting in front of your host computer, you can invite a guest to access your PC, either as a spectator only (for a private sales conference) or by sharing control of your keyboard and mouse (useful for technical support instances). MyWebEx PC does not offer guest privileges. There are also whiteboard and text chat capabilities within GoToMyPC for limited collaboration between two users. For a more complete collaboration and online meeting software, Citrix offers GoToMeeting.
Perhaps because of years without competition in remote desktop-access services, GoToMyPC remains limited to 256 colors, which makes graphics look banded. This shouldn't pose much of a problem for those just checking e-mail or doing word processing, but it makes it difficult to work with photos, since colors are distorted and blocky. The company says it is working on true color support for a future version of the software, but even the free version of competitor MyWebEx PC already offers true color support.
Unlike MyWebEx PC, however, GoToMyPC works on Macintosh and Linux systems, though it doesn't offer some advanced features on those OSs, including remote printing and file transfer. And if you tote a Pocket PC, you can use a specialized GoToMyPC client to access your system, though you should expect to do a bit of scrolling. MyWebEx PC does not work with Pocket PCs.
With GoToMyPC, you can remotely access files on your local system network, change computer settings, install downloaded software, and even shut down the remote system, just as if you're sitting in front of that PC. Provided you're working from a Windows system, you can also transfer files back and forth and print to a printer attached to your host PC, letting you, say, print a large report from home and have it ready and waiting for you at work. Like MyWebEx PC, the GoToMyPC software can also be configured to lock the keyboard and mouse and blank the screen on the host computer when a remote session is active, preventing an onlooker from watching as you work.
The GoToMyPC service offers basic security features for individuals. First and foremost, there's never a direct connection between the host and the remote PCs, so a criminal hacker can't intercept data flowing between the two connections. All GoToMyPC data travels with 128-bit AES encryption through GoToMyPC's data centers. Anyone hoping to breach GoToMyPC's security would need to attack those data centers, not your PC or network. This setup, however, sometimes slows the transfer of data between your remote computer and the PC host, and GoToMyPC passwords have been stolen by criminal hackers using keystroke-logging Trojan horses. By comparison, MyWebEx PC uses end-to-end Secure Socket Layer (SSL) security and offers a slightly faster link through WebEx's high-end corporate teleconferencing network, and the paid version includes two-factor authentication via your cell phone (providing you with an ever-changing password designed to thwart any criminals looking to capture your keystrokes). Both the personal and corporate versions of GoToMyPC offer optional one-time-use passwords; GoToMyPC supports RSA SecurID, a hardware security dongle used by many larger companies, which should assuage the fears of even the most paranoid IT manager.
IT administrators will also find a wide range of tools to manage remote access to PCs on their networks via the corporate edition of GoToMyPC. Using GoToMyPC's Web site, IT administrators can monitor computer access (restricting remote access to HR and accounting computers, for example) and limit specific users to access only at certain times of the day (such as standard work hours). Many of the new features in version 4.1 target these corporate users; for instance, the corporate edition now includes network installation so that administrators can set up new employees quickly and also allows group managers to manage the accounts of a specific group of remote-access users so that some people can transfer files remotely while others cannot.
GoToMyPC is available exclusively as a subscription-based Web service, which gives you the advantage of automatic upgrades as soon as Citrix releases them. Of course, you'll also have to keep paying the monthly subscription fee.
That subscription entitles you to unlimited toll-free technical support, available 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT on Saturdays, plus e-mail support via the company's Web site. It's a generous support policy until you compare it with WebEx's, which offers free telephone support for both its free and its paid customers. The online help files, manuals, and FAQ for GoToMyPC also provide useful step-by-step guidance in using the product.