As many of you know, Remote Utilities provides a separate module called the “Agent” for spontaneous remote support. This program is actually a modified Host that can be run as an application without administrative privileges. The advantage of using the Agent is that it does not require installation. The remote user can run it, give the help desk technician their ID and password and wait until a remote session starts.
The Agent grants remote access only when explicitly run by the remote user. This makes many helpdesk technicians think that remote users must run the Agent (and not the Host) if they want to have some degree of control over the remote connection. This is not true.
The root of this misunderstanding is that spontaneous support can be confused with attended support. Spontaneous support occurs when you need to provide support to a customer just once, or very infrequently. It doesn’t matter whether the customer is there or if it is unattended access. Attended support, as the name implies, occurs when the administrator can connect to a customer’s PC only when the remote user is present on the other side. You can provide attended support with both the Agent and the Host.
The Host is, in fact, much more versatile than the Agent, and if configured properly it provides all of the same features plus some that are not available in the Agent. For example, the Host can run as a SYSTEM service and automatically start with Windows. Also, an administrator or technician can prepare a one-click Host installer using the built-in MSI Configurator and deploy the program across the local network. Finally - and most importantly - the administrator can configure the Host for attended-only support so that they won’t be able to connect to the remote PC without the remote user first accepting their request.
So how do you configure the Host for providing attended-only support? It’s easy. Simply follow the steps below.
First, you need to enable the Ask user permission feature on the remote Host. Every time you connect to the remote PC with this feature enabled, the remote user will see a message window asking them to allow or refuse access to their PC:
To enable this feature, go to Host settings, select Security and on the Confirmation tab check the Ask user permission checkbox. You can also define how the program behaves if there is no response on the remote side. In addition, there is a very handy “Ask only if user logged on” option which, when enabled, allows the administrator to connect without user permission if they logged off from their Windows account (remember we are talking about a Host that works as a system service, not just for a single Windows account).
Second, it is recommended to check the Preview screen capture checkbox on the Modes tab. This will disable showing thumbnail previews in the administrator’s Viewer and prevent them from sneak peeking the remote user’s screen using the Advanced Hint Window feature (there is more on this feature see the program’s User Manual). The administrator will still be able to log on to the remote PC in “standby mode”.
Finally, there is a new option in the upcoming 5.5 release that displays a small notification window at the bottom-right corner of the screen during a remote session. This option will be especially useful for help desk providers because they always want their customers know when the remote session is on.
It should be noted that some competing products allow the “conversion” of their equivalent of Host into their equivalent Agent on-the-fly. However, you still need administrator privileges for that. If the remote user account doesn't have these privileges you or they will be asked to provide administrator access login and password before the conversion can occur. Because the remote user is sometimes logged in as an administrator anyway, it might seem that this conversion works seamlessly 100% all of the time. This, of course, is not always the case.
We hope that this post helped you better understand the differences between the Host and the Agent and learn how you can tailor Remote Utilities to suit your needs even better. Feel free to post your comments or questions below.