In a 2014 Lifehacker survey of 7,780 readers, TeamViewer was overwhelmingly named the best of all remote desktop applications with more than 60 percent of the vote; however, in all honesty, which this many of the votes come from people who simply like it because it's free for home users. TeamViewer supports one of the widest audiences of all remote desktop products, including some platforms on which few remote desktop applications run. However, because all the apps reviewed here are so good, a few nits keep it from being our top pick.
You can use TeamViewer to connect remotely to a computer running Windows, Mac OS X or Linux, while client applications are available for these same platforms along with iOS, Android, Windows RT and Windows Phone. Although many free remote desktop programs are quite full-featured, few allow home users to create connections between an unlimited number of devices. If you are the "computer genius" of your family and frequently field questions from relatives and friends, TeamViewer is a free way to fix everyday computer problems remotely—as long as you don't mind the fact that you'll probably start getting more calls. With TeamViewer, the only limitation is that you can't use the free product in a business environment. To do that, you'll need to upgrade to a business license. The price of a TeamViewer business license depends on the number of workstations supported and the number of simultaneous connections you'll need the software to allow.
TeamViewer works with the following mobile devices:
TeamViewer works with the following operating systems and BlackBerry mobile devices:
If you are a home user who doesn't want to pay for a remote desktop product, it's difficult to recommend anything more highly than TeamViewer. Among its many other features, TeamViewer allows you to control a computer while the remote user watches your input. This makes TeamViewer particularly effective as a teaching platform. You can show someone how to perform a particular function on his computer and then allow the remote user to repeat those steps while you watch. If you are a business user, TeamViewer allows you to administer multiple computers simultaneously with each connection displayed in a separate tab. For added security, you can also install an application on your mobile device for two-factor authentication. After entering your TeamViewer password, your mobile phone displays a second passcode. This would make it impossible for a hacker to access your business network unless he has both your TeamViewer password and your mobile phone. While connected, TeamViewer ensures your privacy by encoding all data with a 1024-bit RSA keys and 256-bit AES encryption.
TeamViewer also allows multiple simultaneous connections, allowing screen sharing or virtual meetings with large groups of people. This feature, like the rest of TeamViewer, is free for personal use. TeamViewer features a simple interface that remains "out of your way" during remote desktop connections. All of the software's advanced features are hidden within a pull-down menu at the top of the screen. Although advanced users will be thankful for the maximization of screen real estate, beginners might find headings such as "Audio/Video" and "File Transfer" a bit confusing without going through the included help files.
Now for the nits we picked. On our Android smartphone test, the screen scroll feature ran the opposite direction from the scroll. Weird. It didn't do this on an Android tablet, however. Also, if you don't pay attention you can find the initial set up with your device a little confusing - you might accidentally use the "invite" rather than connect your PC feature.
Most remote desktop software gives home users basic functionality for free and then asks them to pay for features such as shared sessions, audio support and clipboard pass-through. TeamViewer ignores this convention, reasoning that if more home users are familiar with and enjoy their product, more of those users will go on to purchase commercial licenses to use the same product for their businesses. With ten years in the remote desktop industry and new features still being added in the form of yearly updates, TeamViewer appears to be on the right track.