What is the best remote desktop software – free, paid, for business or for fun?
Remote working is something we heard and used a lot during this year and many companies have chosen to continue productivity through different remote desktop software. But what is the best remote desktop software and what features do we need from it?
Choosing the right software will let you access and manage one computer or more from one device. It can be done either using local networks or the internet, so the software should let you access whatever device you want from anywhere in the world.
For instance, a remote desktop software should let you use a computer or even a smartphone to access and manage files on a PC or laptop that may be at the office. Some people use remote desktop software to help with IT issues, and even gamers find it useful.
Setting up remote access software is as easy as it is to use, and it takes only a few minutes to set it up. Without further ado, let’s check out the top six best remote desktop applications and see which one fits your needs.
6. Chrome Remote Desktop
The best free remote computer access program.
+ Pros: Free, works on Windows, macOS, and Linux, lets you remote into the computer even without the user being logged in, fast install, comes with multi-monitor support, has a file transfer tool, you can use an app to remote into the computer
– Cons: No ability to chat with the remote user, no remote printing allowed, only works with Chrome browser
The free remote access program from Google can be used on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android devices. Since it is a free program, it comes with basic features, but it is good enough for personal use.
Chrome Remote Desktop – Features
We mentioned that it has a great cross-platform compatibility. However, you can use Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to desktop computers from a mobile device, but similar to Splashtop, it won’t work the other way around.
Setting up Chrome Remote Desktop has a friendly UI. Since it doesn’t feature too many options, the program is very easy to use. It’s also very responsive, and as long as there’s a stable connection, there shouldn’t be a noticeable lag.
Extra options such as collaboration, security features, and administration are missing. Again, being a free program, there is no support whatsoever, aside from links to help documents.
5. Windows Remote Desktop
The best free remote access software for Windows Pro, Enterprise or Ultimate users.
+ Pros: Easy to use, no need to download, lets you transfer files, allows immediate access to remote files, works on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
– Cons: Remote screen is locked, cannot let you run multiple remote desktop connections, no built-in chat, limited versions of Windows that you can remote into.
Windows Remote Desktop is a free remote access software that can be used by those that have a Pro, Enterprise or Ultimate version of Windows. The software is already installed in the OS and can be easily enabled to allow remote connections from another Windows user.
Windows Remote Desktop – Features
Being free software, Windows Remote Desktop comes with a few features, such as file transfer, print to a local printer, transfer clipboard content, or listen to audio from the remote PC.
Both Chrome Remote Desktop and Windows Remote Desktop are free, so they are recommended for personal use, and they lack the extra features you would get from the free version of TeamViewer.
The remote desktop that offers different plans for different needs and has a free plan as well.
+ Pros: Comes with various specialized plans, has a free plan, filled with features, drag-and-drop file transfers, can connect from various platforms that run Chrome
– Cons: Some features only come on certain devices (such as the whiteboard feature, which is only on Android and iPad), a bit expensive
This remote computer access program comes with various features and options, a user-friendly interface and can be used from devices that run Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. Depending on what plan you choose (from free to the most expensive one), you can enable remote access to different numbers of computers and get different options and services.
Splashtop – Features
You can use Splashtop’s remote access software to connect to desktop computers from a mobile device, but it won’t work the other way around.
Splashtop supports both text chat and session recording of the remote computer.
Splashtop’s remote computer access lets users manage users, connections, and permissions through its web console.
In terms of security, Splashtop comes with encryption and device authentication.
Depending on which plan you choose, Splashtop comes with various interfaces – the more expensive it is the more features and menu options will show up.
The best cross-platform compatibility, filled with features.
+ Pros: Easy to use, good cross-platform compatibility, great security, supports multiple monitors, online meetings and remote access in one app, free version for personal use.
– Cons: Business plan a bit expensive, annoying security features (gaining access is a pain)
If you’re a personal user, TeamViewer is available for free. It lets users remotely access computers, network machines, mobile devices and other platforms, including IoT devices.
When it comes to commercial users or businesses, the paid subscriptions can be a bit too expensive. Nonetheless, the features it offers are worth it. The program is very easy to use on the client side, which is why IT support services prefer TeamViewer.
TeamViewer supports various platforms, including Windows, Mac, and Linux for desktops, as well as iOS and Android for mobiles. Basically, you can connect from any device to any other device.
TeamViewer supports text chat, session recording of the remote computer, and even voice and video conferencing.
The program has a web console, which you can use to manage users, connections, and permissions, and there are more features, such as a ticketing system, custom branding, and integrations with CRM platforms and external helpdesk.
In terms of security, TeamViewer comes with encryption and device authentication, also adding remote device monitoring for servers, networks, and websites, malware protection, and remote data backup.
Although TeamViewer has a simple interface, it is filled with features and performs great in terms of responsiveness.
2. Steam Remote Play
The second-best remote desktop for gaming.
+ Pros: Setup is not difficult, the best choice for those that have downloaded Steam and don’t want to install third-party software, works on Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android
– Cons: Quality of the stream is not great
While the first four remote desktop software were all about work and accessing files, transfers, printing, IT support, and so on, remote desktop programs can also be used for gaming. And if you’re looking for a good program but already have installed Steam, then using Steam Remote Play is a no-brainer.
Steam Remote Play – Features
The free remote desktop for gamers lets you stream games, and Steam claims that if the game and WiFi connection allows it, you can have more than 4 players in a stream.
Invite your friends on Steam to play with you in local co-op sessions remotely.
The best remote desktop for gaming.
+ Pros: Easy to use, and easy to share your desktop with others, sends notifications when others try to connect, built-in chatting system usable when playing or streaming, works on Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux, and Raspberry Pi 3
– Cons: None
With Parsec, you can share the whole desktop with others through a link. This means it’s easy to setup, and easy to download and install.
Parsec – Features
Parsec will tell you when your friends try to connect to your desktop and you can either accept or reject the requests.
Parsec needs a few more requirements in terms of PC specs since you’re hosting a gaming session or streaming and remote gaming.
The good thing about Parsec is that it lets you have 20 people in a stream. However, it all depends on what game you are streaming.
All of these features and more are free and will deliver a great experience as long as you have a steady internet connection and high-bandwidth wired connections.
There is also Parsec Arcade, a feature that lets users play local, offline multiplayer and couch co-op games with others players online. The peer–to–peer network of gamers get to meet up and play online through this great feature.
Parsec also offers the ability to rent a high-end gaming rig and use it remotely for more demanding games. The renting is priced per hour, and there are various price tags depending on what you choose in terms of hardware, storage, host, location and other options.
The Features You Need in a Remote Desktop Software
Most remote access software offer the features below. Some of them are included in the free plans, while others come at a price or in higher-tiered plans. Check all the remote desktop we featured in our list and see which of their plan includes these features and what is the price they ask for them. Many companies that offer remote desktop software also have free trials for their plans and you can check the software for yourself.
- Cross-platform support: remote access software lets you connect various devices from various platforms, offering support for Windows, Linux, Mac, Chrome OS and Raspberry Pi – and mobile devices – iOS, Android, Windows mobile and Blackberry.
- Apps or Browser-based link: devices can be accessed remotely via an app that has been previously installed, via a web browser-based link or through both options.
- Communication: this handy feature will let you communicate with other devices through text chat, VoIP, video, annotation, whiteboards and screenshots.
- Always-on remote access: this feature will let you remote access any time you want to.
- Integration: some users will need integration of the remote access software with other apps, such as G Suite or Zendesk
- Multiple monitor support: allows the user to view multiple monitors on a remote computer.
- Remote printing: lets the user print from a device that is being accessed remotely.
The Best Remote Desktop Software – Verdict
When it comes to choosing the best remote access software for personal use, the best one would be TeamViewer’s free plan. However, both Chrome Remote Desktop and Windows Remote Desktop are acceptable alternatives to TeamViewer.
In gaming, Parsec is the clear winner since it provides features that are addressed to gamers, it allows more players to join in a game session and it has extra features compared to Steam’s Remote Play.
For business users that want various plans and a more affordable remote access software, Splashtop is a great choice. When it comes to big businesses and a wider range of features, TeamViewer is again the winner in our list, although it can be quite expensive.