Home Computer Help & Tech Support Topics

This material is archived primarily from Email tips distributed to my own home computer friends here in Ocala, dated 2015-2017. Updates to this material are scheduled for CY 2018.

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Remote Tech Support and Windows 10 Quick Assist

Remote Tech Support and Windows 10 Quick Assist

Frequently I handle brief phone inquiries for computer help that can be handled in just a short conversation. More recently, several clients have asked me if I have any plans to offer computer help “remotely” the way computer companies do.

By “remote tech help”, I am referring to tech help sessions in which a computer user gives a technician at a distant location remote access to the user's own computer, using special software designed for technical support or other system administrator functions.

This is becoming more prevalent as a way for computer and software companies to provide customer assistances, just as online chat is a common feature on company websites for handling user issues.

Keeping that in mind, I can help in familiarizing computer users with remote access software, and in the installation process when requested. For Windows 10 users, I suggest using Quick Assist (discussed below). For earlier Windows systems, I have setup files for installation of several major remote access programs if needed.

Here are a few things to consider concerning the usefulness and advisability of remote tech support yourself as a home computer user.

Advantages of On-Site Tech Help

Most of the help I provide is most effectively done by house call, for several reasons:

- Exchanging information with the computer user on-site is very valuable to the learning process. If a computer help call requires computer restarts, or involves running system repair or restore apps, it’s hard to fix anything remotely.

- Working on-site in a computer user’s home allows me to see the physical layout of computer connections setup and working environment, and examine external hardware such as modems, routers, printers, and other peripheral devices.

- A house call allows for conversations and Q&A that help in diagnosing problems, double-checking what a client wants step-by-step, customizing a computer setup to their liking, and so on.

- Finally, working right alongside the client allows them to know me better, and allows for handling multiple tasks in one sitting.

At the same time, remote access does have its pluses, such as the following:

Advantages of Remote Access Apps

- Remote access software has advantages of efficiency in handling specific, well-defined tasks.

- It can be a handy way to make simple settings changes, running built-in Windows tools, running anti-malware or cleanup programs, uninstalling a troublesome software app.

- Remote access can be a good learning tool, used in combination with Skype or speaker phone especially.

- On-site, “remote” access can be used as a learning tool allowing helper and client to communicate verbally while sitting each at one’s own screen.

- Remote access can be a good way of providing help during non-regular hours, handling simple short jobs, diagnosing a problem (at least partially).

- Remote access can be used for working in tandem with a computer user on organizing or emails, creating documents, or using and teaching the features of computer software.

- It also can be used effectively as a demo for touring a user on the internet to find web resources, interact with a website, or find, download, play or display online files and media.

Who Uses Remote Access

Growing numbers of households have some experience in receiving help via remote access in resolving computer issues. Tech helpers using remote access include:

- Computer-savvy family members, often a son or daughter, grandchild or other trusted relative helping an older family member,

- Local tech support providers, such as computer shops or technical service providers like myself,

- Established companies' support departments, such as computer system manufacturers, operating system providers, software firms, etc.,

- Members of work groups in which individuals are cooperating on a project using multiple computers at different locations.

Unfortunately, many computer users get contacted by overly aggressive companies or dubious parties in the guise of tech support. These characters do all they can to trick ordinary home computer users into allowing them remote access to their home computers.

Also, sometimes tech support providers may sell you a service package that implies they will give you service on-site, then they back away and try to help you through remote access only. It may be more efficient for them, but when it comes to real world home computer needs, only a limited range of technical assistance can be provided effectively off-site.

Suggestions – Who to Give Remote Access

Authorizing remote access to your home computer requires caution and common sense:

- Allowing a trusted family member remote access to your computer can be helpful. If that person is the one you would rely upon as the personal representative and caregiver you would rely upon in old age or in case of emergencies, it makes sense for them to have access when needed. If that person is simply a smart offspring or grandkid who knows computers, that’s a judgement call for you to make.

- If you have been dealing with a computer shop or tech help provider satisfactorily for a sustained time, inquiring whether they provide remote support can be helpful. If a vendor initiates the idea of remote access to you, however, I suggest exercising some caution.

- Major companies such as prominent computer makers, operating system providers, and well established software firms generally are trustworthy parties, but not many of them really have justification for having remote access.

- If you seek help from a major company like Microsoft, be sure that the website or phone number that you use to contact them belongs to that company. There are lots of false listings trying to bait computer users into contacting false-flag hucksters, impostors and scoundrels for remote tech help.

Commonly Used Remote Access Software

Remote computer access used to reside in apps available only to a network administrator. Over time, third party apps developed to do the same thing. Now it’s an app being built into new operating systems.

- Windows 10 users don’t have to search around for third party remote access software. Microsoft's 2016 Anniversary Update to Windows 10 included a built-in program or "app" for this purpose, called Quick Assist.

- This tool is designed specifically to work with Windows 10 systems. It allows two Windows 10 computers to connect over the internet, so that a person at one of the computers can remotely control the other.

- Microsoft had an older program called Remote Desktop Connection, but that program did not allow for both users at both ends of the remote access connection to see the desktop of the PC being controlled.

- Among other remote access programs used with earlier Windows versions, AeroAdmin, AnyDesk, LogMeIn, RemotePC, and TeamViewer are among the best known.

- TeamViewer is the one I most often find installed on computers used by local area clients. In most cases, it had been installed for the purpose of getting tech help from a computer related company, a local shop or technician, or a family member.

Generally, there is no harm in leaving such programs installed after the immediate need for help is done. However, if there is any doubt about the integrity of a remote help session that has transpired, I recommend removal as a precaution.

If you do keep one of these software programs installed on your computer, I suggest checking the Startup menu to ensure that it does not open automatically with each Windows session.