Using Host vs. Using Agent

On the remote side of a connection you can use either Host or Agent. Their features mostly overlap and in many cases you can use either. In some scenarios, however, using Host may be more appropriate than using Agent, and vice versa.

Using Host

The Host is a persistent remote module. It runs as a system service and starts automatically with Windows. This lets you establish a remote connection with an unattended remote computer which is the main reason behind using the Host, although the Host is also suitable for attended remote support. If you need to access “headless” machines (i.e. those without a monitor plugged in) then using the Host is the only option.

You can tell if the Host is running by looking at the system tray area of the Windows task bar. If the Host is installed on the PC and is running, there is the Host icon in the system tray:

Host icon in the system tray with menu

If you right click on the Host icon you can invoke Host menu and customize its behavior and options. There are several ways to change the Host settings:

  • Post-installation. You change or update the settings after the Host has being installed by either accessing the Host settings directly on the remote PC or remotely via the Viewer using the Remote Settings feature.
  • Pre-installation. You can build your custom Host installer using the MSI Configurator and specify which options you want to use with the Host.

Using Agent

The Agent is a remote module intended for attended-only support. The user sitting at the remote machine must run the Agent for a tech to be able to connect in to their computer. Agent runs as an application, not as a service. However, the Agent includes an option that when selected allows the tech to start the Agent after the system restart and connect in again.

Agent window

Unlike Host, the Agent has its own window which can be customized. If you are a remote support service provider, you can brand the Agent window with your logo and welcome text. Select the “Agent” option in the MSI Configurator to build a custom Agent package.

You customer doesn’t have to delete the Agent from their computer after the remote session is over. In fact, for repeated use it is recommended to leave the Agent on the customer’s PC and run it on an as-needed basis. This will keep the Agent’s Internet-ID code and password the same and let the tech avoid updating this information in their Viewer each time a remote session is needed.

Summary

To better organize your remote support infrastructure with Remote Utilities there are a few simple rules to follow:

  • For unattended access always use Host.
  • For attended-only access you can use either Agent or Host. In the latter case you can enable the Ask user permission feature to let the remote user decide whether to accept or reject your remote connection to their PC.
  • Use Agent for spontaneous, one-time remote support.

That was all to say about these two remote modules. Feel free to ask your questions on our community forum.