Just over two years ago now I reviewed a piece of software called PC Anywhere as a solution for those that wanted to control any number of PC’s remotely.Rather naively I thought that when it came to remote control that this software was pretty much the best it got however just recently we’ve had computer repair company move in to a room in the Refresh building and they kindly introduced a piece of software called UltraVNC.They use this software for fixing customer problems without having to even leave the building and I thought this would be of interest to a number of my readers.

I personally have use for such a program as there are several computers in the office that all have different e-mail accounts and applications installed on them and it can sometimes be helpful to be able to control any computer from the one machine.Home users who have a couple of PC’s may have the same desire or alternatively it can be used to request from or give support to any of your PC owning, Internet connected friends.

UltraVNC relies on the open source Virtual Network Computing (VNC) system which was developed at the Olivetti & Oracle Research Lab which was then acquired by AT&T in 1999.AT&T closed down the research lab in 2002 but the software is open source so absolutely anyone is now free to develop and distribute it.This has lead to many different versions of the software becoming available as individuals and small companies try to add their own particular tweaks and improvements to the original standard.

Every program is common in that it relies on both a server and a client program.The server program is run on the machine that shares its screen and the client software is run on the machine used as the viewer and controller.

For the basis of this review I will be looking at one of the best versions of this system that I found which goes by the name of UltraVNC which can by found by heading to http://ultravnc.sourceforge.net.As the software is a tiny 1.6mb in size downloading it takes literally seconds on a fast Internet connection and then all you have to do in order to get it running is load the server and client software on to the appropriate machines.On the server machine you will set up an access password and once this has been done hover your mouse above the UltraVNC icon in the taskbar down the bottom right hand side of the screen and make a note of the IP address.Then simply input this IP address and password in to the client machine and you should have a connection – it’s really as easy as that!

As well as viewing the screen of the server machine from the client machine you will also be able to control the mouse and keyboard as well as making use of a number of different features built in to the software.For example, the client machine can shut down and restart the server as well as opening up the task manager or transferring files between the two machines.If you are offering technical support to a friend then the chat function would be helpful as it will allow you to talk them through what you’re doing stage by stage.In terms of speed of use I found UltraVNC to be a great deal faster than my previous favourite, PC Anywhere and additionally like all the best things in life the software is completely free of charge.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.