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Geek Chic: GoToMyPC Corporate 5.0

This article was orginally online in another form.

Release 5.0 of GoToMyPC Corporate, an outgrowth of a product originally designed to let a single user access one PC over the Internet, touts better performance, an improved end-user interface, and drag-and-drop file transfers.

Hosts--the machines that are to be controlled remotely--make periodic connections to the GoToMyPC service, checking for new remote-control session requests. By not letting a host accept direct incoming connections, GoToMyPC can get around firewalls and proxies without the need for VPNs, which are sometimes blocked on hotel, Wi-Fi or guest networks. Of course, there's a security downside, but to compensate, Citrix offers a free service that lets you limit the use of the product to approved users and features. You also can configure your firewall to block the IP addresses or DNS names that GoToMyPC uses.

Administrators and users both go to the GoToMyPC Web site for access. From the PC administration site, logged-in administrators can place each user into one group or subgroup at a time. Restrictions may be placed on the group itself, but individual user settings can override the group settings. Each Windows computer needs a small client program, less than 5 MB, to be enabled for remote control. Each host computer is assigned an owner--the GoToMyPC user account that was used to install the client--who is automatically granted access to the machine, but a manager can add other users to a PC if desired. The owner also may choose to set an access code that must be input by any user attaching to the PC. Unfortunately, adding users to a PC needs to be done on an individual node or user basis.

When I connected to the remote access Web site, I was presented with a list of all PCs that I, as a user, had permission to access. I used a Java-based viewer for access, though Windows users get a bit more functionality with an ActiveX-based viewer. The local user--someone using a host PC at the time a remote user is trying to connect to it--is notified of a remote connection through a pop-up window. Overall performance was very good, even on a cable modem. Files could be dragged and dropped from the host PC onto the remote PC's viewer window, or the reverse. A file selection dialog box is also available. You can move big files faster with Windows File Sharing, but GoToMyPC encrypts file transfers with 128-bit AES, while most corporate firewalls block Windows File Sharing across the Internet.

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