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Remote PC Access 101
The ability to access your personal computer from anywhere else in the world is something that's fairly new to the computing scene, but also something that's quickly becoming a necessity for people that use their computers for business or communication. The idea behind this "Remote Access" thing is pretty simple: Allow you to get to your files, print things, and complete various tasks on your home computer without actually using your home computer. The way this usually works is using the world wide web to establish a connection between whatever computer you're currently using, and the computer you want to control, which is then protected by an advanced firewall to ensure that none of your personal information can be stolen.
So what about connecting to a Windows computer with a Mac? Or a Mac from a Windows PC? Is this nonsensical cross-platforming even possible, or is it just a fool's errand? Well, thankfully it is possible, and it's not really that complicated.
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The Power of the Internet
Much like cross platform video games or applications, running a cross-platform system link isn't very difficult simply due to the power of the Internet. If you can make an application that can run within someones Internet browser, it isn't that hard to make it work for every single operating system on the market, and that's exactly the sort of thing these following two apps take advantage of: In-browser remote control. Like something of a virtual television remote.
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The first app I want to cover within this guide is one called "GoToMyPC", and it's perhaps the most prominent app on this list simply due to the fact that it's remarkably easy to sign up and use. Oh, and that's all you have to do; sign up. Once that's complete, you're ready to go, but there are strings attached. None of the remote access applications can be brought to you for free, simply because it costs a lot of money to get something like this up and running. That being the case, it'll run you a very reasonable $9.95 a month to use GoToMyPC, and it's not like they're skimping you on features either.
Aside from just the standard "connect to your PC" function, GoToMyPC also has a quick and easy set up with no restart required (great for anyone who has trouble navigating tough menus and installation guides), an incredibly complex security set up that includes 128bit encryption and a dual-password system, and even the ability to control your PC via an iPad (if you've got one). This, of course, is downloaded from the app store and comes free with every subscription to the service.
To help you with your GoToMyPC subscription, they also offer 24-hour tech support in case you have problems transferring files, copy and pasting text, remotely printing, or listening to music that's stored on your other computer. This, coupled with the iPad app, in addition to the standard applications of something like this make GoToMyPC one of the best options on the market today for gaining remote access to a Windows PC from a Mac.
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#2: LogMeIn PRO
Yet another product to remotely access your PC comes in the form of LogMeIn Pro, a browser-based access program that has many of the same features in GoToMyPC, but it does them using a different payment method: annually. Depending on how many computers you want, you'll pay a flat rate that will get you access to LogMeIn Pro for one full year, and the more computers you want to add to your network, the less you'll pay per computer.
Now, whether this is a better deal than GoToMyPC depends on a few things. For one computer, LogMeIn will charge you a flat annual rate of $70, whereas GoToMyPC will get you for $10 a month. Overall, you can see that LogMeIn is a better deal, but if you only need to perform such a task for a one or two month period, perhaps you should reconsider.
Aside from the price, almost everything about this one is pretty standard: Copy/Paste from computer to computer, share files between computers, listen to music on a remote computer, and do any other standard tasks without needing to be anywhere near the secondary device. It's a pretty useful little application, but another downside to LogMeIn is that it does not come with iPad support, so if you were looking forward to accessing it on the go without needing to find someone with a computer, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Even still, for the cheaper price, it's really a toss up as to which one you'd want to get.