October 01, 2003
- Ease of Use:
- Value for Money:
- Overall Rating:
Excellent all-rounder. A variety of settings with many drill-down options. Good screen resizing on-the-fly. Excellent documentation and support.
Expensive when viewed against the competition.
A good package, especially for remote support staff.
Now in version 11, pcAnywhere is one of the longest-running remote access applications for the PC. We can remember using an early DOS edition in the mid-to-late 1980s.
This solution is now one of the fastest remote access applications seen. The software builds a screen image on the remote machine and caches this image, only redrawing those elements of the screen that have changed since the last refresh.
Installation of the software is relatively painless, thanks to a set of default settings designed to get you running with a minimum of fuss.
Encryption is really quite flexible, even if Symantec glosses over the issue in its documentation. There are three levels of encryption available - proprietary, which is quite basic, but useful for slow-speed connections/machines; 40- and 128-bit symmetric key; and public key.
The last two encryption functions make use of Microsoft's CryptoAPI technology, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your view of Microsoft. The downside to this is that the default setting for encryption is off.
Because of its humble origins in the world of DOS, pcAnywhere has a wealth of features available to users. There are remote packager and push tools available for IT staff, and there is also a six-month free subscription to Dynip.com, allowing users to forget about the problems of dealing with static and dynamic IP addresses. The remote packager and push tools aim to smooth the problem of providing remote support and maintenance to PC users who often have no idea of how their PC works.
The software deploys updates quickly and easily, and without action on the part of the host PC uses. It also supports just about any communications connection - from a humble dialup link to a full-blown network-over-IP service. There is even Ldap support included as standard.
Also included as standard is a virus checker, preventing any nasty incidients even if one of the machines being connected has no AV software on board.
We were surprised by the lack of password settings for individual files and/or folders on the host PC.
Overall though, we were impressed with the pcAnywhere solution. It has come a long way from its humble origins and, apart from a few minor glitches, it is great for both novice and experienced PC users alike.
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