Thursday, February 11, 2010

LogMeIn: Maybe the BEST Time Saver EVER

For geeks like me, it is typical that you are the sysadmin for family, friends and relatives.  Parents are a unique challenge shall we say.  After all, you can blow off everyone but the two people who have the ultimate trump card on you and they can play it again, and again, and again, again:  "if not for us, you DON'T EXIST! FIX MY DAMN WINDOZE PROBLEM!!!!"   :-)

The challenge in being a remote trouble shooter is that you can not see the screen and can not touch the computer, so this requires a logical set of questions:

  • What were you doing at the time of the error?
  • What exactly does the error message say?
  • What are you trying to do?
  • Why are you trying to do that?
  • Have you tried this before?
  • What was different this time?
  • What else is running on your computer?
As you can see from just a small set of questions, it is not easy being the remote trouble shooter.

Now all this has changed for me with LogMeIn.  NOTE:  I do not own any stock or have any financial interest in LogMeIn - I am just a HUGE fan :-)

I heard about LogMeIn on Leo Laporte's This Week In Tech (TWiT) podcast.  I thought I would give it a try as Leo has a great reputation in terms of his likes and dislikes regarding technology.  Cars - he should sell his new Mustang GT and get a Corvette :-)

The install really could not be any easier.  You install LogMeIn on the remote system you want to manage and install a plugin for your browser on the system you will be using to talk to the remote system.

After you login, below is an example of what you see.  This screen shows the three computers at my parents house.


The window above shows the screen after you login to a specific system.  In this example I logged into the old Dell.  As I move the mouse, my parents can see what I am doing.  When they move the mouse, I can see everything they are doing.  The response time is very good.  It is amazing how well this software works.   Please notice that the image above was when LogMeIn was providing the Pro version during a trial period.  I find the standard free version very nice and I could easily see why someone would want the Pro version.

On the window below there are many options that provide additional data on what is happening on the remote system.

Finally, LogMeIn does offer a paid for Pro packages that provide additional capabilities     These additional capabilities such as file sharing, remote printing, remote backup, iPhone client, cloud backup, additional help, .... LogMeIn does a very nice job balancing the free and premium/paid for capabilities.  Very cleanly delineated are the differences between the two classes of software.

It used to take me 45 minutes to drive to my parents house, another 45 minutes trouble shooting, then 45 minutes home.  This was if there was no traffic and the problem was reasonably straightforward.  It could easily be four hours.  Now with LogMeIn, even during this past week's multiple blizzards, my parent's three computer systems are simply a click away.  PLUS, I can be pro-active and make sure the systems are running fine whenever I want to check on them.  

Yes, there are other programs out there, but LogMeIn is the best that I have seen or used.....