Tech Tips / Windows XP / Remote Use and Management

Initiating Remote Assistance

Imagine one of your users has a problem. Since you're the computer guru at your company, the user calls you. What options do you have? You can either guide the user through the steps over the phone (and cringe as the user does one thing despite being directed to do something completely different), or you can walk to his office and manually show him what to do. One option is error-prone, and the other takes too much time.

Enter the world of Remote Assistance, a Windows XP feature that allows you to remotely assist the user just as if you were sitting at the computer next to him. When you use Remote Assistance, you can see the user's desktop and can thus guide him directly, without relying on a secondhand description of the problem and the results of your corrections. If this isn't enough, you can take control of the user's computer and manually show him what has to be done.

Before you can help the remote user, he has to invite you onto his machine. Invitations can be sent from two utilities. The faster method is to use Windows Messenger: Right-click the person and select Ask For Remote Assistance. The tech support administrator instantly receives the invitation and can immediately start the remote session.

The second option is to use the Help and Support Center. In this case, the user that requests help clicks the Support button, selects Ask A Friend To Help on the Support section, and selects Invite Someone To Help You on the Remote Assistance screen. The user then has several options to send an invitation: Windows Messenger, e-mail, or to create an invitation document that you can then transfer to the expert in question.

Once you get the invitation, you can start the remote session and help the user. Before you actually see the user's desktop, he will have to confirm your access. Once you're connected, you'll only be able to see his desktop and chat with him. If you want to actually show him what to do, you'll have to click the Take Control button. If the user agrees, you'll have complete control over his computer.

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