With respect to end user remote support some organizations struggle.  Perhaps they have a limited budget so a paid for product like CA’s Remote Control (Those Canadians are real original aren’t they?) is out of their budget structure or perhaps it’s a more feature rich product than they’re looking for?  Maybe they’re using Microsoft’s built in Remote Desktop with Remote Assistance but perhaps all their workstations aren’t Windows computers?  Security is certainly a concern also, with an Enterprise level product like CA’s things are usually tighter, that is if the person managing that product tightens it.  Feature rich products are usually flexible so you can be as loose or as tight with respect to security as you’d like it to be.  VNC is not necessarily an Enterprise product but it’s something I’d like to discuss.  VNC for example keeps the password in the registry which isn’t the best option for Enterprise level organizations but for SMB’s it might fit the bill.  If an Enterprise wanted to use VNC, they’d have to properly secure their registry on end user pc’s, laptops or Terminal Servers so an end user couldn’t access VNC registry keys (which should usually be done as a base line security principle anyway).  It would keep honest users – honest.  Unlike some products both enterprise paid for products and cheap or free VNC is platform independent, it can go on virtually any operating system.

FastPUSH is a utility / script I’ve used in the past.  You can leverage it to whatever degree you’d like.  With it you can push various VNC versions (or derivatives) out to all your machines or pinpoint just a few with precision for your personal use.

When I worked for an organization that leveraged CA’s product I had to revert to using FastPUSH because the CA product was broken and since I didn’t manage that product it was quite some time before the issue was resolved.  That’s not to say if I manged it I would have fixed it any sooner, who knows?  To provide a high level of support I used FastPUSH to push out VNC 4, then remotely control the end user’s PC just like CA’s product.  The end users didn’t notice a difference.  When I was done, I’d uninstall it, delete any registry keys if there were any and I was done.  One thing to note, some antivirus programs see what FastPUSH does with VNC as malicious so if you get errors check your antivirus activity then make exceptions as necessary.

A common feature of VNC software is the Java plugin, it’s usually built into a VNC installation so you can open a web browser to connect to your client instead of the actual client executable.  Watch out for any host based firewalls because they’ll probably block the port if turned on BUT FastPUSH ususally opens those ports up with a netsh command to the firewall, it’s all in the script.  You’ll definitely need to open the batch file in the root directory and make edits as appropriate.  Once you tweak it to your environment and you test it you’ll be thanking yourself because you’ll be able to deploy it in seconds and get the job done.  Back to the browser connection method – you’d open a web browser to http://hostnameORipaddress:5800 which would then trigger the Java client, if you don’t have Java installed it’ll ask you if you want to install it.  It’s quite nice!

Another cool VNC product is brought to us by UltaVNC.  They have some cool addons.  One in particular that I like is “SingleClick” it’s also called “Ultra VNC SC”.

They describe it as this:  “UltraVNC SC (SingleClick) is a customizable mini UltraVNC server for download. This is very convenient for help desk support because the customer doesn’t need any preinstalled remote control software. Just have him or her download UltraVNC SC and start remote controlling. At the end of the remote control session UltraVNC SC deinstalls itself and leaves the computer without additional software.”

How great is that?  You make it available on your Intranet (or you can also use another addon for WAN deployments with servers that can repeat the connection through a NATTED environment), the person requesting support downloads the executable and within seconds they’re getting help.  When the tasks are done it deinstalls and it’s gone!  You can also customize the icon to better integrate into your organization rebranding it with your organizations color scheme or logo.

You can easily see how both FastPUSH and UltraVNC can be great utilities and best of all, they’re open source and free!  Free certainly does wonders on a tight budget.

* Addendum – I was pushing this out to a workstation with fastpush the other day and it DOES encrypt the password, not sure how it’s doing that but it does use some method of protection to guard against end users finding out what your password is.  Now – it still might be easily decrypted but it’s better than I thought!  :)