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NTRconnect - A Remote Access Software Solution
There are a number of methods of remotely accessing a computer but, unfortunately, most of those methods have various shortcomings. Virtual private networks (VPNs) work well, but can be time consuming to set up and manage (and are certainly not for the technically challenged!). The Remote Desktop functionality included with Windows also works well, but its coverage is limited - you can only use Remote Desktop on computers running Windows and you cannot use it to connect to computers running Windows XP Home, Windows Vista Home Basic or Windows Vista Home Premium. Furthermore, should either the remote computer or the computer from which you are attempting to connect be behind a firewall, you may encounter problems.
There are a number of remote access and control applications that promise a solution to these problems, some of which are reasonably well-known (GoToMyPC, for example). This review will examine the pros and cons of a less well-known remote access software: NTRconnect.
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Supported operating systemsRating
NTRconnect supports a wide range of operating systems. The computer which is to be remotely accessed (the "host") can be either a PC or a Mac (credit to NTRconnect here, as most other solutions do not support Macs). The remote computer (the "client") can be running anything from Windows 9x to Vista (including Windows Mobile), Mac OSX and any Linux distro with a X Window system.
In short, this means that you use NTRconnect to access practically any computer from practically any computer with the only missing element being support for Linux systems as clients.
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Installation and setupRating
NTRconnect is extremely easy to install and configure. Simply download the setup file and install it onto each of the computers that you wish to be able to remotely access.
During the setup process, NTRconnect prompts you to create a username and password and asks whether you wish to user the Normal Protection System (NPS) or the Advanced Protection System (APS). Select NPS, and you'll be able to remotely access using your computers using only your username and password; select NPS, and you'll need to key-in some additional information in order to be able to access your computer (more about this in Security below). For most people, NPS will probably be sufficient.
And that's it. You'll now be able to remotely access and control each of the computers on which you installed NTRconnect simply by visiting the NTRconnect web page and entering the computer name and your username and password.
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NTRconnect offers just about all the features you would expect to find in a remote access software solution. The resolution can be adjusted to optimize performance, files can be transferred between the client and the host and you can invite a guest to remotely control the computer (which is useful should you find yourself in need of technical support). NTRconnect also offers something not found in other products: remote startup. With most solutions, you can only access a remote computer if it's switched on. Not so with NTRconnect. So long as the computer supports wake-on-LAN, you'll be able to start it remotely.
The only feature that's notably absent from this remote access software is NTRconnect's support for remote printing. For most people, this probably won't be a deal killer, but it's nonetheless a surprising omission given NTRconnect's otherwise extensive feature set.
NTRconnect is available in free and paid versions. The main difference between them is that the no-cost version only enables 2 computers to be remotely accessed and doesn't support the remote start-up feature mentioned above.
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Most remote access software solutions offer a decent enough security, but NTRconnect really shines. While products such as GoToMyPC use 128-bit encryption to secure data exchanges, NTRconnect uses 256-bit encryption as standard. Although 128-bit encryption undoubtedly offers more than enough security to keep the majority of people happy, the extra security offered by NTRconnect is nonetheless comforting.
NTRconnect also offers the ability to restrict connections based on IP, blank the remote screen (so that people in the office cannot see what you're doing when you remotely access the computer), restrict remote access to certain time periods as well as various other security mechanisms.
Additionally, NTRconnect also provides you with the ability to require keycard authentication rather than simply username and password. Keycard authentication if enabled if you select the APS option during installation. With this option enabled, you print out something that looks much like a Battleships board but with number combinations shown at each coordinate instead of battleships! NTRconnect will then require that you input the number combination shown at a given coordinate each time that you attempt to remotely access your systems or perform other specified actions - and each of those combinations. This provides an additional tier of security for people who use public-access computers and are worried about their keystrokes being captured by a logger.
All-in-all, NTRconnect offers a better set of security features than many competing products.
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NTRconnect seems to make extremely efficient use of the available bandwidth. With all such products, there is invariably some lag while data is transferred from the client to the host, but NTRconnect seems to perform better than many other products in this category.
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NTRconnect is an excellent, cost-effective alternative to Remote Desktop and VPNs. It's competitively priced, is easy to install and easy to use and offers absolutely top-notch security.