Jul 24 2008
01:46 pm

I'm setting up a new notebook PC (more on that later) and thought I'd try out some of the remote home/office computer access services. I tried WebEx PCNow and GoToMyPC. My report follows...

We use WebEx in the business for remote support and online demos, so I tried their PCNow solution first. The first problem I encountered was that the software wouldn't install. It kept telling me to lower my Internet Explorer security settings, and I did, lower, and lower, and it still wouldn't install. It provided a link to download the software and install it manually, but the link sent me to the sign in page. I finally found the download link and installed it that way, and that worked.

Connecting up to the remote host (my home/office PC) from a notebook went a lot smoother. I logged on to the WebEx PCNow site, clicked connect, it installed a client program automatically (with just the usual minor complaints from IE) and started right up. I performed several typical programming type tasks and everything seemed to work OK, although it was a little sluggish and it dropped some keystrokes every now and then.

After disconnecting, the next problem I encountered was that I couldn't stop PCNow from running on my host home/office PC to disconnect it from their server. The system tray icon disappears immediately after starting PCNow, and if you try to relaunch the program it says it is already running. I went to task manager to kill the service, but I couldn't figure out which one it was. So I rebooted, PCNow loaded up again, the icon disappeared from the system tray again, and I was back to square one. Uninstalling it fixed the problem, so thankfully I was able to do that.

Not being thrilled with my initial experience, I tried GoToMyPC. I set up an account, the software installed the first time with no hassles, and I had my home/office PC setup in about a minute or so.

I went to the notebook PC, logged on to my account, and clicked to connect to my host home/office PC. It started installing the client, and IE complained about something. The installation seemed to finish, but it didn't connect. I went back to my account page and clicked on connect a second time, and it connected right away with no further drama.

The user interface seemed a little uglier at first, but once I figured out how to get in full screen mode and make the task bar/menus hide away, I was off to the races. GoToMyPC seemed a lot "snappier" than PCNow. I performed some of the same programming type tasks, and everything worked as expected, and there were no lost keystrokes.

I tried a file transfer, which also worked great. I tried a graphics intensive application (browsing and editing some photos in Adobe Lightroom), and was amazed that it was almost like being on the host home/office PC.

While the GoToMyPC user interface is not as pretty, it gives you a little more control. Both programs have the same basic features for remote access. They can both resize the host screen to match the PC screen resolution, which is nice. PCNow did this automatically (after running the host setup wizard and taking the defaults) and reset the host PC resolution after the session. GoToMyPC didn't automatically reset the host screen resolution after the session.

PCNow prompts you through some of these settings when you setup the host PC, but GoToMyPC doesn't. On the other hand, you can easily change the host PC settings from the remote PC while connected, or by right clicking the GoToMyPC system tray icon on the host (which thankfully doesn't disappear).

I tried rebooting the host PC while connected using GoToMyPC. I was able to watch it up to a point, until it said "session disconnected" and went back to the GoToMyPC account page with the "connect" button disabled. I waited for the other PC to finish rebooting, refreshed the page, and the "connect" button was enabled and I was able to connect right up. I didn't try this with PCNow, so I don't know if it would work or not.

Both have similar security, with user ID, password, and an access key required to log on to the host PC, and both use encryption.

So, the bottom line for me is that GoToMyPC appears to be the fastest, most reliable solution, at least for Windows PCs. (My host home/office PC is XP, the remote notebook is Vista).

At $20/month ($15 if you pay annually), GoToMyPC costs more than PCNow at $13/month ($10 if you pay annually). Both have a 30 day free trial, both require a credit card to use it, and both automatically convert to a subscription if you don't cancel.

There are some other services, including a couple of free solutions, but these two seem to be the most popular and both have a good reputation.

If I decide to keep this, I will use GoToMyPC. Both companies should have a "day pass" option, though, for people who only need it occasionally. But a $15 or $20 one-time monthly subscription when you're going on vacation or occasional extended business travel isn't too bad.

onetahiti's picture

We use GoToMyPC for easy remote meetings

I often meet remotely with folks in NH, NY, and points even farther flung. GoToMyPC is a relatively painless way for us to see and even control each others' screens. Only one of us needs to have an account, so per person the cost is very low. I love it! Simply click on a link and go. :) Very handy.

-- OneTahiti

KO's picture

I use GoToMyPC daily and

I use GoToMyPC daily and love it. I, too, have a new laptop on its way to me that will have Verizon Broadband so I should be able to log in and work from my office computer via GoToMyPC while relaxing on the lake, sitting in court waiting for a motion hearing (which can sometimes take hours), or other places without WiFi. Consider me another enthusiastic supporter of GoToMyPC.

R. Neal's picture

KO, that will be a nice

KO, that will be a nice setup. My new notebook has the Verizon Broadband and it works great.

A tip: After a certain date (don't remember when it was), Verizon changed from "unlimited" to a 5GB per month limit. (Some guy in FL got a $9000 bill because his kids went way over). If you connect to your base PC using GoToMyPC via Verizon Broadband, it will use your base PCs internet connection bandwidth to view web pages, download email, etc., and the only thing Verizon will see is the pixels and keystrokes going back and forth, which should be a lot less. If you eliminate background wallpapers, and reduce your screen resolution and color depth it will reduce it even more.

Paul Witt's picture

Why not just use remote

Why not just use remote desktop or VNC? I used VNC for years and it works great.

Anonymously Nine's picture

Try Log Me In

Same thing as Go to My PC, except it's free.

Works well.

Opinari's picture


WebEx PCNow's equivalent is SoonR. It is free, and we actually use it in a corporate environment. If remote access to your files is your goal, I recommend it.

As for programs like VNC, I like those too, but they require a VPN in the corporate world. I don't want to invoke an instance of an IPSec client every time I want to modify a spreadsheet. With SoonR (and PCNow, for that matter), I don't need to.

JT's picture


(link...) is the best service I've used. It beats the others hands down. Plus it's free for home users. I use it to work on computers on my network and to access friends to help them.

William Asbury's picture


I have used GoToMyPC for over 8 years. until recently they have been exceptionally good and reliable. But of late customer and tech support is so bad we are having to switch to another source of remote access. Thye do not answer their phones they do not respond to e-mails. We wanted to add 1700 new systems to our account for global accessability. They would not return our calls.

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