Sometimes it is rather amazing what some people can call for help with on their computers. Many times they have done something really simple such as remove a toolbar, switched default printers or something similar. If something is not the way it looked when they got trained they freak out! If you are like me you start to become aware of these co-workers and you can easily walk them through most problems over the phone. However there are special circumstances when attempting to walk somebody through a process over the phone just does not work and you need to take control over their computer to see what they are talking about. Having 5 different offices with computers in and only 2 IT people it can make it a challenge to drive to each office on a whim to support the user. Here are a few things that we use in the company I work for to support the employees:
Microsoft Terminal Services Manager: Our employees do 50-90% of their work in a Remote Desktop(RDP) terminal server. All of their email, health care software and most all other software is installed on this terminal server. Very few users actually use their local computer to do any actual work. Using the Terminal Services Manager we can easily see which terminal server they are logged into and remote control their session or even log off the user.
DameWare Mini Remote Control: We use this tool if the user is having difficulties getting into the terminal server or using their local computer. We will even use this application for setting up new software on a computer in a remote location without having to be in front of the computer. Sure there are methods of installing software via Active Directory GPO, System Center and others but sometimes manual is how it has to be done.
Lantronix SecureLinx Spider KVM over IP: This is great for computers that are having issues with WiFi connectivity issues and you cannot use the above tools while they are in the office. This device is powered by the USB ports and requires just a network cable plugged directly into the device. Also works great for laptops that are having problems booting. Just walk the person on the other end of the phone how to connect the device and go from there.
LogMeIn Rescue: This is the tool of choice for those employees that work outside the office where DameWare and KVM over IP just don’t work for us. Easily walk them through accessing a certain website, give them the 6 digit pin code and connect a remote support session easily. You can even install an application (Calling Card) to give even easier access to support right on the local computer desktop.
Dell Remote Access Controller(DRAC): Used in our servers for quick easy access to the machine. Easily power on/off the machine as well as view the screen. This will be helpful if we accidentally select shutdown instead of reboot on the ESX or SAN host cluster servers late at night while working from home via VPN. Just login to the web control panel and a few minutes later the server is back on.
With these tools we can easily solve most problems remotely unless it is something major like a hardware failure. Even re-loading the OS could be done remotely if somebody put the OS CD in the machine and plugged in the KVM since we currently are not using any imaging software.
If you have any other suggestions for remote management of computers leave a comment. Always looking for potentially better/easier ways to support computers.