I was looking for a solution that would allow me to remotely connect to machines on the local network. We often get phone calls form users asking for help. It is way easier to provide help if we can see their screens and we usually end up having to visit their workstation. This can be time consuming, especially when we are in the middle of a project.
In my search, I came across a wonderful gem called Microsoft Remote Assistance which happens to be included in Windows XP/Vista/7.
How does it Work?
- Tech enters the Machine name of the client that he/she wants to provide Remote Assistance to.
- User is prompted to allow Tech to view their computer (Yes/No)
- Tech then can request to take control
- Again, the user is prompted to allow the tech to take control
Enabling Remote Assistance on the Domain (via Group Policy)
Computer Configuration -> Policies -> Admin Templates -> System -> Remote Assistance
- Offer Remote Assistance -> Enable
- Solicited Remote Assistance -> Disable (If you don’t want your users requesting others for Remote Assistance)
You then have two choices “Allow helpers to control the computer” or “Allow helpers to only view the computer”. In addition to selecting one of these choices, you have to add the users and groups that should be able to provide remote assistance.
Offering Remote Assistance
- Start -> All Programs -> Maintenance -> Windows Remote Assistance or type in msra.exe
- Click “Help Someone who has invited you”
- Click “Advance connection option for the help desk”
- Lastly, enter the machine name or ip address of the machine you want to provide Remote Assistance to
How can I possibly remember all the host names?
I’ve created a small C# application that you can have your users run. I would put it on a shared drive and push out a shortcut via group policy.
Bin: Included in source ./WhoAmI/bin/Release/WhoAmI.exe
Offering Remote Assistance – A nice GUI app
Although the method mentioned above works it is long and convoluted. I put together a small C# app to easily offer Remote Assistance to a user.
The app simply calls
msra.exe /offerra <hostname>
Bin: Included in souce ./RemoteAssistance/bin/Release/RemoteAssitance.exe
Ideas for the two Easy GUI apps came from SYNACK over at edugeek. http://www.edugeek.net/forums/coding/49448-easy-gui-remote-assistance-support.html