How I Learned to Love Remote Control

How I Learned to Love Remote Control

As the techies in my extended family, the adults in my household are often called upon to provide IT support to everyone else.  (I'm sure you know how this goes.) Sometimes this means long, painful phone calls to a different time zone where a "user," we'll call her Grandma, is trying to describe what she sees on her computer screen. Normally we eventually figure out that the problem is that she's just been typing in the wrong field. Our other IT support volunteer work involves a half-hour car ride to another relative's house, only to find out that they'd forgotten their password and couldn't see the password hint. (This relative refers to the desktop tower as the "modem.")  It is hard to support this kind of user over the phone alone.

So while I was on one of my support visits this past weekend to an older cousin's house I did a quick Google search for free remote control software. I came upon LogMeIn and TeamViewer. I know many MSPs use and love LogMeIn, but TeamViewer actually pitched itself as a solution"to help distraught relatives diagnose and cure computer problems."  And it was free for personal use. Not a trial for 30 days. Free. So that was in my budget.

Remote Control to the Rescue

I downloaded it and got it all set up on her machine very easily, and ran through a bunch of other tasks while I was there, such as using a thumb drive to transfer her documents from her dead Jurassic XP machine to her new inherited Windows 7 Acer Aspire One. We had hooked up the netbook to a USB keyboard, mouse and got an adapter for her old monitor.

And then after I got home I received another email from her. She couldn't login again. She had to login as a Guest because the password wasn't working again. So I downloaded TeamViewer to my laptop, remote controlled over to her machine and typed in her password. It worked for me. She tried again. It didn't work for her. We repeated this several times. I had her check the caps lock, thinking it must be something with the keyboard. Nothing. So I changed her password to one that didn't have numbers in it. She had no problem after that. I asked her if she had been entering the numbers from the keys above the letters or from the number keypad to the right of the letters. She said the number keypad. (At this point she lost interest because her password worked and she wanted to read her email on AOL, but my theory is that the Acer Aspire One doesn't support the keypad numbers on an external keypad somehow during the boot up.)

Thank You, MSPs

But here's the thing: We fixed this problem without me driving over to her house again. This made my weekend much better. And if I didn't spend time talking to MSPs and their technology provider companies, it probably would have taken me much longer to figure out that downloading remote control software was a good thing to do. So thank you, MSPs, for saving my weekend.

Later that day, the whole family took another car ride over to Nanna's house to set up a new Dell desktop there. Guess what we installed on that computer, too.

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