Remote Control home PC from Cell Phone

My career with computers often required the remote control of distant PCs. In that commercial environment I used a tool called Remotely Anywhere, it’s still available. RA is feature rich, a tool for the PC technician needing to analyze and resolve remote computer problems. Fast forward to today. My choice of a personal cell is a Samsung Galaxy S5 running the Android operating system. It’s a bit large, but not too much so and still fits comfortably on my belt in a holster.

I have two programs on the S5 that do remote control of my home PC. The first is RDM+ (available for other than Android) which costs the princely sum of 5$. It requires a component to be installed on the home PC in addition to the S5. The second (which does essentially the same functions), is Remote Desktop by Xtralogic. RD does not require a home PC component. RD costs 15$ and is only available for Android. You don’t need both of them. Either one will do.

You can compare and contrast the features and functionality on the respective web sites. For my purposes as a notary tool, they are equivalent. Both offer a free trial, the choice is really about how the user interface works, and your personal preference. The tools provide a home PC desktop image on the cell phone. Using the Android, and/or application built in functions, you are able to expand portions of the screen, control the display, do mouse clicks, etc. It’s not as fast nor as easy as using the real keyboard and mouse at home; but can be very useful.

With the groundwork laid, it’s time to answer your “why bother?” question. OK, the most basic use is to command the home PC to print the PDF that is available in the inbox. You usually want two sets, and, of course you have to always have adequate letter and legal in the printer. Some pudgy PDFs, scanned at absurdly high resolution can print quite slowly. If you remotely start the job the two set will be “in the hopper” when you arrive. If the schedule is really tight, a half hour saved can save the day. If they sent you 17 PDFs, it’s more bother than it’s worth.

Of course with full access to your home PC you can transfer a needed file that is not already on your cell phone to your cell phone. You can also access your contact information from any home PC application and have it available from virtually any other location. Back to the biggie, Remotely Anywhere. It does not have a cell phone component; it is accessed via any browser. Thus with RA it’s possible to log into you home PC from a rental PC at Kinko’s. Or, do the same thing from the cell phone browser. However, RA is best used with a full size screen/keyboard.

You will need a reasonably fast (4G-LTE?) or WIFI connection, there is a lot of information to be transferred when a screen image is moved. Also, consider the effect on your data plan. It is really not that bad of a “hit”, as these tools are for infrequent usage. But can be super handy when the need arises. Direct access is so much better than asking a PC novice to operate the machine with you verbally telling them what keys and mouse clicks to make – that can lead to foul language.

Remote PC control is nothing new. It is used by many support centers to directly see the problem and, as necessary apply proper fixes. I have been using this class of product for over 20 years. Way back in the stone age it was possible for me to control the Apple II remotely from my IBM PC (with two floppy drives and no hard disk). I was writing 6502 Assembly code and could not “assemble” it on my IBM, as the target operating system was Apple. You might find this useful.