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(Solved) - Troubleshooting at a distance . . .

(64 posts)
  • Started 6 years ago by BobJam
  • Latest reply from Lighthouse
  • Topic Viewed 5776 times

BobJam
BobJam
Posts: 1052

I was wondering if there's any capability WITHIN Windows XP to troubleshoot somebody else's computer by getting their desktop and programs to show (and manipulate) on your own machine. I'm not talking about things like "PC Anywhere", but rather a capability NATIVE to Windows XP (HE) that will allow you to do this.

The reason I want to do this is because I am going to try and troubleshoot my Sisters machine and she lives in Southern California and I am in Arizona.

As many of you probably know, troubleshooting via phone or email is at best tedious and likely futile with someone who basically is computer illiterate (that would be my Sister)

If I could sit down in front of her machine, I probably would be able to solve her problem (I don't know what it is yet) within a half hour or so. But trying to talk her through some diagnostics is going to likely take days, with both of us getting frustrated and angry, especially me when she says something like "What's Control Panel" when I first start into this. And telling her to "click on this and then click on that" will probably not work.

So, this is why I want to see if there's any way I can do it at a distance myself.

I know there is something like "Remote Assistance", but my suspicion is that that's what manufacturers use to troubleshoot their own machines . . . like if somebody has a Dell, then Dell can connect to that particular machine, or HP can do HP, etc.

I'm looking for some way to do it myself without having to do much over the phone/email, other than tell her what she needs to do to get me connected for troubleshooting her machine.

Another hurdle, if there even is something like this, is going to be her OS. I think she has XP Pro, so if XP HE (my OS) can even do this, does the other system have to be XP HE also??

Again, let me make this clear. What I want to do, if I can, is sort of ""see" and manipulate her stuff through mine.

Can I do it, or am I going to have to try guiding her through "click on this and then click on that" over the phone or in emails??

I've done troubleshooting over the phone before, and with novices it's very hard to do. I've also done troubleshooting via emails (with screenshots too), and this is also tedious, often leading to days of directions when I could solve the problem within minutes if I was just in front of the machine myself.

Thoughts??

Posted 6 years ago
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pipo
pipo
Posts: 428

hi bobjam, i read this article before by the Geek, i hope this is what you're looking for (or at least, i hope this helps), remotely control somebody's desktop the easy way

Posted 6 years ago
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k9
k9
Posts: 129

@pipo - BobJam was looking for something "NATIVE to Windows XP (HE)", so I guess CrossLoop doesn't satisfy the 1st requirement itself.

@BobJam - I don't think this is possible with out using any 3rd party software. I would suggest you help your sister (over phone perhaps) download and install a remote control s/w like CrossLoop or TeamViewer and then take control of her system and troubleshoot the problem.

Posted 6 years ago
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SarahJames
SarahJames
Posts: 6581

I'm curious to know if Pipo's suggestion works for you, BobJam. If so, I have an aunt that's like your sister, so I'll give it a try too;-)

Cheers,
Sarah.

Posted 6 years ago
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Lighthouse
Lighthouse
Posts: 13598

Crossloop does work well in those situations. I once repaired a computer in the next room via internet with it :)

Posted 6 years ago
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jack7h3r1pp3r
jack7h3r1pp3r
Posts: 2815

yes but with crossloop don't you have to accept from both sides? or did you set it up differently? i think that vnc is pretty strait forward and easy to use.

Posted 6 years ago
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Lighthouse
Lighthouse
Posts: 13598

Yes you do. I walked 20 feet and accepted. If you are repairing a computer at distance, the other person will be there anyway to accept/allow

Posted 6 years ago
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jack7h3r1pp3r
jack7h3r1pp3r
Posts: 2815

i know they would be there but if you already had to walk to that computer why not just fix it there? i have done the same thing with vnc with a computer that was closer but i didn't have to go over to that computer to accept.

Posted 6 years ago
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Aleeve
Aleeve
Posts: 2818

This looks like a really useful tool
I shall try it!

Posted 6 years ago
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Lighthouse
Lighthouse
Posts: 13598

@jack. I did it as an experiment. (and for the exercise)

Posted 6 years ago
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jack7h3r1pp3r
jack7h3r1pp3r
Posts: 2815

lol i see. i kinda figured it was something like that.

Posted 6 years ago
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ScottW
ScottW
Posts: 6609

BobJam: Remote Assistance is native to Windows. Go to Start -> Help and Support and you should see Remote Assistance on that page. This is NOT a Dell tool, it is built-in to Windows. It works very well for remote controlling and the 2 systems do not have to be running the same OS. I've used it plenty and it's good.

One of the hard parts with RA is getting the invitation. Microsoft wants you to use their tools -- Outlook Express or Windows Messenger. However the third option, "save to file" is universal. Once the invitation is saved, it can be sent by mail, IM, FTP, or what have you. One more caveat -- if either you or your sister are behind routers or firewalls, it can be tricky. Let me know if you need help with it.

Posted 6 years ago
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jd2066
jd2066
Posts: 3814

@ScottW: Actully on the email invitation I think it is the default email client which can be Outlook Express but not always.

Posted 6 years ago
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ScottW
ScottW
Posts: 6609

@jd2066, you are correct, as usual, however some people use web-based mail with no local client and I have found that Remote Assistance can't seem to handle that.

@BobJam, there are plenty of articles on Remote Assistance at Microsoft (KB, Technet, etc.). The page below, that I googled up, has a very nice tutorial with screen shots. It also lists the port, 3389, that is used by Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). That port needs to be allowed or forwarded through routers and firewalls.
http://www.windowsnetworking.c.....rmass.html

Posted 6 years ago
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thegeek
The Geek
Posts: 2059

I've found that CrossLoop works really well through routers and firewalls, since their servers handle all the connection details.

It's also much simpler than any other solution for the end user... just open Crossloop, have them copy/paste the code to you in an IM window (or verbally tell you over the phone), and once they accept you are good to go.

Posted 6 years ago
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BobJam
BobJam
Posts: 1052

Wow . . . got more responses here than on other forums. Thanks very much.

Coupla' things.

pipo,

I went to that link you provided on the Geek's article . . . more on that in a bit.

k9,

Yes, I did say "NATIVE", but I didn't consider there were third party softwares out there that my Sister could download too. In that regard, CrossLoop fits the bill. I guess I was thinking that I didn't want to make it that much of a hassle for her, so that's why I said "NATIVE". Plus, I didn't want her to have to pay anything, but I see also that CrossLoop is "FREE".

As you can see by some other posts, Windows DOES indeed have this capability with "Remote Assistance"

On another forum someone linked me to another "FREE" piece of software that does the same thing as CrossLoop. It's called "TightVNC". I took a look at the TightVNC web page, and it looked like a good piece of software . . . BUT . . . it didn't seem to be too user friendly for a novice to use (my Sister) to get connected to somebody more experienced (me).

I saw a lot of geekspeak/jargon/computer lingo, so if I refer her to that page for the download, she will likely not only get intimidated but NOT know how to connect to me.

I need something that's very easy for a novice to use for connecting, and TightVNC, while it appears to be an excellent piece of software, doesn't seem to fit that description. I want to be able to minimize the amount of "click on this . . . enter this" stuff I have to tell her.

While Windows Remote Assistance certainly won't eliminate that "click here" stuff I have to tell her, it does seem to be a little simpler than TightVNC, though I see that TightVNC seems to have more capabilities than Windows Remote Assistance.

So, I'm leaning toward trying to use Remote Assistance with her, unless I've misread the TightVNC documentation and it will be easier for her to use.

Which leads me to another question about OS's. If she has XP Pro, does it have the Remote Assistance GUI or only the Remote Desktop GUI . . . and are they the same anyway?? I need to know this because I'm going to send her some screenshots from my machine if I use Remote Assistance, and if the screenshots are different from what she sees, she'll get confused.

Sarah,

I haven't launched into the effort yet (haven't even decided which piece of software I'll use yet), but when I do, I'll post back here in this thread and let you know.

Lighthouse,

More on my thoughts about CrossLoop in a second. And I would appreciate an account of how that CrossLoop experience of yours would go for a novice connecting.

jack7h3r1pp3r,

I assume you're talking about "TightVNC" when you referred to "vnc". As I read on the web page, "TightVNC" is the developer's upgrade of "VNC". I'm intrigued by your comment that "vnc is pretty strait forward and easy to use." That's exactly what I'm looking for regarding my Sister, but I didn't get that out of reading though VNC's documentation, as I said.

ScottW,

While I haven't decided yet which software I will use . . . Windows Remote Assistance, TightVNC, or CrossLoop, Crossloop seems to be the only one that negotiates AROUND firewalls. I assume there is a way to overcome the firewall restriction with RA and VNC, and it will be easy for me to give a permission with the ZA that I use, but my Sister has a router (a hardware firewall), and I don't know that I will be able to guide her through the steps necessary to let VNC or RA through that router. I guess I could just tell her to unhook the darn thing, and also disable my ZA if it gives me problems, but I'd rather not be so insecure with this whole thing. So . . . I may prevail upon your advice on how to deal with these firewalls. Just bear in mind that my Sister doesn't respond well to geekspeak, so I may have to translate your advice into plain English if you use computer lingo. TIA.

I have indeed read up on RA, and one of the things that confuses me in some of the write ups is their reference to plain vanilla XP. In one breath, they said just "Windows XP" and didn't differentiate between Pro and HE. But then they go on to say that Pro has a "Remote Desktop" function while HE has only the Remote Assistance function.

To repeat my earlier question: If she has XP Pro, does it have the Remote Assistance GUI or only the Remote Desktop GUI . . . and are they the same anyway?? I need to know this because I'm going to send her some screenshots from my machine if I use Remote Assistance, and if the screenshots are different from what she sees, she'll get confused.

jd2066 and ScottW,

Regarding email invitations and clients with RA, I have both GMail (which is the only Internet Email now that interfaces with OE . . . hotmail used to, but now M$ wants you to read the adds, so hotmail can no longer be read through OE) AND OE AND HOTMAIL, but my Sister has AOL, which is really buggy and quirky, so I may have to get her to sign up for a hotmail account (I know that will work with RA). Will GMail??

And finally, Mr. Geek,

My compliments on your discussion of CrossLoop. I took a look at Crossloop, and the deal breaker there seems to be that it requires broadband. I have an archaic dial-up, but this may be what gets me off the fence. I have been meaning to step into the 21st Century and switch from my stubby pencil dial up to cable, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. In any case, even if I use Remote Assistance, I'm sure if I still have dial up that it will be slow going for me. Got to switch to broadband.

It does indeed look like CrossLoop may be the ticket for her ease of use in connecting, at least based on your screenshots and the comment you made in this thread.

Can you use CrossLoop with a dial up??

Posted 6 years ago
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Scott
Scott
Posts: 5618

Does CrossLoop work on dial-up?
Yes, but we recommend broadband for optimal service.

http://www.crossloop.com/ipage.htm?id=faq

Posted 6 years ago
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jack7h3r1pp3r
jack7h3r1pp3r
Posts: 2815

if you use dial up it will be really slow.

and the vnc that i use is real vnc all you have to do is have your sister would have to do is download this here: http://realvnc.com/cgi-bin/download.cgi then just install. then have her tell you her ip and you are set as long as you have it too.

Posted 6 years ago
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whs
whs
Posts: 17584

Looks like Scott moved back to the Netherlands. You really have a way to confuse us.

Posted 6 years ago
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Lighthouse
Lighthouse
Posts: 13598

mmmm...tilting at windmills. Don Quixote

Posted 6 years ago
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