Tuesday, January 21, 2014

LogMeIn’s Free Service Discontinued

LogMeIn has been a popular way to get remote access to your systems for more than ten years. Earlier today, they announced that their popular free service will be discontinued and users will have to transition to one of their paid subscription products, or find another free remote access solution (see LogMeIn's Blog for more info).

For those of you unfamiliar with LogMeIn or other similar products, they allow you to install a small program on a computer you would like to access remotely – called a “Host” – and then gain access to it from other computing devices, called “Clients”. For example, you could install LogMeIn on a computer in your office, then access it remotely from Home, your laptop, or even your iPad or smartphone.

LogMeIn used to offer their “Host” service free, for non-commercial use (although many business people used the free software anyway). They also offer a variety of paid service products that historically have targeted technology professionals – products for remote technical support, secure networking between servers, remote updating of systems, and so on. Now, LogMeIn Pro accounts will start at $49 per year for two “Host” computers – a 50% discount off the price paid by current LogMeIn Pro customers. You have just seven days to upgrade to Pro after your next login to LogMeIn Free (see below).

LogMeIn Pro offers several benefits versus the formerly free product, most notably the ability to print on a local printer from a remote computer, support for mobile apps on iOS and Android, and an easy way to transfer files between Hosts and Clients. Even at $49, it’s still a pretty good value.

However, if you feel strongly about using a free solution, there are a number of options I can recommend:

  • TeamViewer – Operates much the way LogMeIn does, and offers support for Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile devices. It also has an “ad hoc” version that makes it easy for you to have a screen sharing session with a friend whenever you want. TeamViewer is free for non-commercial use, but they expect businesses to pay for one of their more advanced products.
  • Chrome Remote Desktop – Through an add-in to Google’s Chrome browser, you can establish on-demand or permanent remote access to a computer. Chrome works with desktop and laptop computers, Chromebooks, and even mobile devices. This option is 100% free and just requires a free Google (Gmail) account to set it up.
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection – Windows systems have had a built-in ability to set up remote access since Windows XP Professional came out more than ten years ago. This is the same “terminal services” technology used for quick, easy server support by IT professionals for many years. It’s free and built into just about every copy of Windows that’s out there. However, this is almost entirely a Windows technology, and for most users, setup generally requires technical assistance.

Whether you stick with LogMeIn or choose a free option, Remote Access software is an invaluable tool for keeping you productive whenever and wherever you like.

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