How to Use the Built-in Windows Remote Assistance to Provide Virtual Support to Your Friends

Today, we are going to take a closer look at the inbuilt remote assistance offering that Windows has had since XP. This can be an invaluable tool if you want to be able to provide help to your friends or family over your home network, or over the Internet.

One thing to bear in mind is that you might have trouble with connections if your router is blocking port 3389. So keep in mind that you might need to forward that port to resolve connection difficulties. Other remote support software tends to be very clever in getting around firewall restrictions, so there’s always Teamviewer if you get stuck!

The configuration component is important only for the machine that you wish to control (i.e. the slave machine), not for the machine doing the controlling.This guide is written for Windows 7, but the configuration is similar in Vista and XP.

Step 1. Browse to Control Panel and select “View by: Small icons” in the top right hand corner.

Step 2. Click on the System icon.

Step 3. Click “Remote Settings” in the left menu. A popup box with “Remote Assistance” should load, as per the below image.

Step 4. Ensure that “Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer” is ticked. Then click on Advanced.

Step 5. Reduce the time period for the maximum invitation time to 1 hour as a security precaution. Click Ok twice and close Control Panel.

Simply run Windows Remote Assistance, by clicking Start, Maintenace, “Windows Remote Assistance”. Select “Invite someone you trust to help you” and you will see the following window:

The easiest connection method to use is “Easy Connect”, which will just provide you with a text password. Alternatively, you can generate a file which you need to share with the other person via email or similar, for added security. You will still need to share the 12 character password.

Run Windows Remote Assistance and select “Help Someone who has invited you”. Then select the appropriate option for your situation. Assuming you are using the Easy Connect method, you will be prompted for the 12 character password.

Enter it and hit OK. After a short delay you should be connected.

When you are first connected, you are not in full control of the remote machine. Rather, you can see what is on their screen. You can also chat with them by clicking on “Chat”. If you wish to take over control of the mouse cursor and keyboard, you will need to click “Request Control”, and the remote user will need to authorise you.

While Windows Remote Asssitance isn’t the fastest remote control software I’ve used, it’s certainly the free-est! Being built-in is a great advantage. Nothing to install, and should work right out of the box. It’s got enough features for you to be able to provide occasional help to your friends or family, and strong enough security for you not to worry too much about unauthorised users.

Image credit: BigStockPhoto