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Sunday, June 25, 2017

 

Review: GoToMyPC

Review of GoToMyPC remote access software and service


 
What is GoToMyPC?

GoToMyPC is a software/service package that lets users remotely access their home and/or office PCs from any computer anywhere in the world as long as it has a high speed Internet connection.

What I tested...

I tested GoToMyPC from a desktop PC that accesses the Internet via our corporate LAN. I also tested the same account from a public use PC at the local library.

Details of the test...

I downloaded the setup file for GoToMyPC and started the setup procedure. Installation was quick and easy with just a few standard "installation" type questions (which folder to install in, etc). The only information that I had to enter was:

  • my email address
  • a password
  • an access code (must be different from the password)
After the installation was finished, my ZoneAlarm Pro firewall automatically detected GoToMyPC and verified that I wanted to give it access to the Internet. The GoToMyPC icon was then displayed on the task bar letting me know the program was active and ready to receive a remote connection.

Next, I went to another computer on the network and visited the GoToMyPC website. After logging on with my email address and password, I was asked to provide the access code.

The access code is actually a password that resides on the host computer and isn't sent to the GoToMyPC website. This code is used in the encryption algorithm.

After I finished entering the authentication info (password and access code), the Java viewer application was automatically downloaded, installed, and launched on the local PC.

What happened next was truly amazing: The remote computer's desktop appeared on the local PC's screen. All of the icons were there as well as the task bar, Start button, etc.

I clicked Start>Programs>Microsoft Outlook. The Outlook screen appeared with all of my folders intact. I created a couple of emails and sent them out. I clicked on a couple of the folders and right there was a listing of all of my messages that were stored on the host computer's hard drive! I began to get excited.

I then logged on to a couple of websites that required a secure login - everything went smoothly. The little lock appeared letting me know I was accessing a secure server.

For phase 2 of the test, I paid a visit to the local library and sat down at one of their public use computers. To make a long story short, I repeated the steps detailed above with precisely the same results.

Conclusions reached after completing the test

GoToMyPC worked exactly as described. In every way it seemed like I was sitting at the host PC's workstation, using its keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

The only thing that took a bit of getting used to was the slight delay when I clicked on a link. GoToMyPC creates a compressed image of the host computer's screen every time it changes, encrypts it, then sends it to the local PC's screen via the Internet.

This process introduces a very slight delay between the click and the screen update. I didn't find the delay either excessive or annoying - very acceptable actually given the tasks being performed.

System requirements for using GoToMyPC

Host PC
  • MS Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, NT 4.0 , XP or Windows Server 2003
  • Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator 4.0 or later 
  • "Always on" stable Internet connection with cable modem, ISDN, DSL or better
  • Minimum of Pentium 300 with 64 MB of RAM 
Local (client) PC
  • MS Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, NT 4.0, XP, Server 
    2003 or any operating system that has a Java-enabled browser
  • Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator 4.0 or later with all Java components enabled
  • A stable Internet connection with cable modem, ISDN, DSL or better
Security
  • All GoToMyPC data transmissions are 128 bit AES encrypted end-to-end
  • The encryption key is unique for every remote connection and it is based on the access code and a random bit sequence.
  • The access code is stored on the host PC and is never transmitted to the GoToMyPC servers (so it cannot be intercepted).
Summary

GoToMyPC worked flawlessly, exactly as described in the advertisements. After I entered the authentication information, the host PC's desktop appeared on the local workstation's screen.

From then on, with the exception of the slight delay between click and screen update, I simply could not tell that I was accessing the host computer remotely.

Recommendation

If you need to access the applications and files on your home or office PC from a remote location (using a second computer), I highly recommend GoToMyPC. As a matter of fact, after the testing was completed I paid for a one year account for both my home and office computers.
 

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