In the past getting networking computer systems to allow off-site working was a major operation that often came with high costs and implementation/use issues.
Nowadays solutions such as remote access software and online services allow both individuals and businesses to link and access machines to allow easier remote working. What are the options and benefits?
What is Remote Access?
If an individual has remote access then they can access files and data or even a complete computer from any other machine at a different location. All they need is an Internet connection and the connections/software necessary to hook their base computer /network into the service.
They can then often use any computer (although this may depend on the remote access route they have used) to work on their own system, either in part or as a whole. So, for example, a business could set up their sales system to be accessible to staff out on the road from their laptops. Or an individual could set up a home PC to be 100% accessible from any other computer with online access.
What Options are Available With Remote Access?
Many people use this service without thinking about it on a daily basis. Web-based email accounts, for example, allow a user to send, receive and manage their mail from any computer with an Internet connection. But, there are broader services that take this principle and extend it to files, data and even entire computers. Two of the more commonly used options here include:
- Virtual Private Networks: Often referred to as VPNs this kind of remote access is often used by companies. This involves setting up access to a base network. This can be useful if a company wants to allow their employees to work from home or on the road as it can give them access to key files and data. This kind of solution is also sometimes used to build company networks in different locations to give each office access to the primary network. This is a similar solution to traditional WANs but may be easier to implement and less expensive.
- Online remote access services: This solution uses the Internet to allow individuals and businesses to access computers and systems on a remote basis by using an online hub. Software is placed on to the core machine which is then lodged with the online service. A user can then tap into the service (and their computer or network) at any time from virtually any computer, laptop or even Pocket PCs and hand-helds (depending on the service they go with). These services are sometimes referred to as hosted VPNs.
These solutions can make life a lot easier (and cost effective) for many individuals and businesses. But, before deciding to try them out, there are considerations to be made.
Things to Consider Before Trying Remote Access Solutions
Great as these solutions may be, there are stilll considerations to be made before choosing to try them. These include:
- Cost: Setting up a VPN may involve a range of start-up and maintenance costs. A hosted remote access online service may be cheaper to run but will usually incur a monthly fee to use the service.
- Security: Security matters to both individuals and to businesses. Looking for robust, state-of-the-art security, especially with online hosted solutions, is essential. This may also involve upgrading base computers and networks to ensure maximum protection. Outsourcing network access to an online service is often a concern to businesses.
- Access: People will have different access needs and this may play a part in the solution they choose. This may be made trickier if the computers involved include both PCs and Macs, for example, although services such as GoToMyPC’s Mac beta trial may remove some of these issues.
It is likely that remote access services will increase in take-up in coming years rather than decrease. These solutions allow both individuals and businesses to turn just one computer or a static network into a globally accessible system.