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Best Free Remote Desktop Alternatives

I often have to travel a lot between my home city, and my university which are more than 300 miles apart. On top of that, I don’t carry around a notebook or a netbook (I don’t even want to get in the discussion of why) so I usually have a tough time when I want something from one of my computers at home while I’m at the university.

Sure I do use cloud storage for important files, but sometimes we need more than just files and data, like for example, I might want to make some changes to my Home Server which is only accessible through the PCs on my Home network.

In these types of situations, I turn to a Remote Desktop Connection program which allows me to connect to my PC from anywhere in the world as long as I have Internet. It even works on the iPhone. Windows has a Remote Desktop Connection solution built into it, but we will be looking at the alternatives.


RealVNC is a very popular cross platform VNC client for Windows and Linux. It is included in almost every major Linux distribution and can easily be downloaded for Windows. While it doesn’t directly support Mac OS X, we can still connect to it by running a different VNC server on the Mac. It is available in three different versions, including RealVNC Free, Personal and Enterprise editions.

Windows Live Mesh

Windows Live Mesh is my favorite Remote Connection application. It is a part of Microsoft’s Windows Live set of online services and is free for everyone. It is still in beta, but it will support Windows, Mac and Mobile phones when it comes out. One of its many advantages is its file synchronization capabilities and its online Live Desktop. It can run in the browser as well as an application on your PC.


LogMeIN is one of the first and most popular web based Remote Connection services. There are several products under the LogMeIN umbrella but the most popular one is the free version of their LogMeIN desktop connection software which lets you access your computer from anywhere on the web. Paid versions have more features like drag and drop file transfer, remote sound and file synchronization.


TightVNC is a very popular open source VNC client and server program. It is cross platform allowing you to access your computer from any OS you like. Its best feature is its tight encoding schemes that allow greater bandwidth utilization and improved performance on low bandwidth connections like dial-up. The downside is that you have to use TightVNC at both ends if you want to take advantage of those features.

Java Remote Desktop

Java Remote Desktop (or jrDesktop for short) is another open source remote connection application built on the Java platform, and therefore requires it runtime to run. It is cross platform and can be run on most modern operating systems that can run the Java Virtual Machine. It uses SSL/TLS encryption to encrypt communication between the computers. Other notable features include remote sound, file transfer and synchronization, remote viewing, clipboard transfer and multiple simultaneous sessions.


Jaadu VNC is a very powerful VNC client for the iPhone. It runs on the iPhone OS 2.0 or newer and therefore it supports the iPhone and the iPod Touch devices. Its main features include its support for ultra high resolutions. Though it doesn’t support the usual features like file transfer and synchronization (its on the iPhone after all), it a powerful way to connect to your PC on the go.


There you have it, six powerful ways to remotely access your PC using anything from a desktop to a cell phone. All of the above software are available in free (and paid) versions with the exception of Jaadu. You can always go for your Operating System’s preinstalled Remote Desktop connection software – Windows has a very powerful one called Remote Desktop Connection. I would love to hear feedback and comments about your favorite remote desktop application.

Article by Uzair Sajid (UzEE), a technologist and freelance blogger who also authors The Technopath.

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