Remote Technical Assistance

[This article is timely, since many people still need technical assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak.]

Getting technical assistance can be awkward.

Traditionally, one would disconnect all the wires, take the offending device to a service shop, describe the issues, wait until it is fixed, return to the service shop, take the device home, plug it back in, and then see if it was = fixed. If the issues were not fixed, you would repeat the process until they are fixed.

A preferred approach is to have a technician come to you and address the issues while you wait … but this can involve a lot of travel time for the technician, and tie up the technician for extended periods, keeping him or her from helping others.

This is why remote technical assistance is invaluable. It saves your time in to-and-froing. It saves the technician’s travel time, and allows them to (potentially) multitask during long fixes. It’s also very helpful if you are shut in, or self isolating, for whatever reason.

The three main requirements for remote assistance are that the device has remote access features, is booting up, and has Internet access. If these requirements are not met, a technician can still potentially help over the phone. But if they are met, there are many remote assistance tools that can be used.

Technicians often have their own remote access tools like ConnectWise or TeamViewer that work with (and between) many platforms. Windows has a built-in tool called Remote Assistance. Google has Chrome Remote Desktop that easily be accessed by browsing to on most devices that use the Chrome browser.

These tools are easy to use and yet are very secure. They must be initiated by the end-user, but can be terminated by the end-user or the support person at any time. Once the connection is terminated, it must be re-initiated by the end-user (i.e., no “back doors” are left open).

There are even remote access/assistance tools that don’t require a device to be fully booting. One is called a DRAC (Dell Remote Access Controller) which is specifically for Dell servers. Another is KVM-over-IP (keyboard-video-mouse over Internet Protocol). The advantage of these hardware devices is the ability to remotely access the BIOS as well as the operating system.

Note: Only give remote access of your computer to trusted and verified support technicians.