How to remotely access your firm’s computer

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

Logo of GoToMyPC

Ever wake up in the middle of the night and wonder whether you need to be in court the next day? Or perhaps, while on vacation, you’ve received a phone call from opposing counsel and needed to contact your client but didn’t have your client’s phone number, and the office was closed? Have you ever wanted to review your outstanding receivables on the weekend without having to go back to the office to obtain the information?

Remote access is one solution for tackling these. One popular remote access service is GoToMyPC which allows a user to remotely access a Mac or PC from any Web browser.

In other words, you can log on to the desktop computer in your office from your laptop, iPad or netbook while at home, in a coffee shop or, if you happen to be so fortunate, from your vacation condo as you take in the beach view. (A clickable affiliate link to download the free iPad app.)

Access screen through GoToMyPC

I and several other lawyers I know use or have used GoToMyPC for remote access. Offered by Citrix Online, a division of Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Citrix Systems, GoToMyPC protects data with 128-bit AES encryption, dual passwords and end-to-end user authentication. You should also be sure to use a safe computer when opting for remote access in order to protect your password.

Citrix Online Logo

Here’s a look at the benefits and drawbacks of GoToMyPC for lawyers

A snap to set up remote PC access

It doesn’t take a degree in computer programming to set up GoToMyPC. The new user downloads the program to the computer he or she wants to access directly from the website. The installation then starts automatically.

You don’t download the program onto any of the computers that you will be using to log onto your main computer. To gain access to the host computer, you use your laptop, netbook or other computer and go to www.gotomypc.com. There you are prompted to enter your email address and two passwords before being connected.

Intuitive and easy to use remote computer access

When you’re connected to your host computer, it’s as if you’re sitting in front of that computer, although the screen may be a bit smaller. You have virtual access to all the same files and programs that you can get into when you are physically sitting in your office. GoToMyPC also allows users to transfer files between the remote and home computers.

Free GoToMyPC 30-day trial

For those who like to try before they buy, GoToMyPC offers a free 30-day trial. Pricing, for those who like what they see, starts at $9.95 per month. The cost varies by the number of users and computers that must be accessed.

Now for the downside of remotely accessing your PC

One of the drawbacks to using GoToMyPC is that the computer you’re seeking to access must be online. That means that if the power goes out and Internet access is cut off, you won’t be able to connect — and if the computer is turned off, you won’t be able to log on, either.

Competition for control of the computer

GoToMyPC at a Glance

  • Easy to install
  • Intuitive use
  • Free 30-day trial
  • Requires the remote computer to be online
  • Competition with someone in the office for computer control is a possibility

If the computer you’re trying to access is, say, the firm administrator’s and you try to log on during business hours, you may find yourself in a struggle over who gets control. Because the service operates as if you were physically sitting in front of the screen, only one user can have control. I have been in more than one battle over the cursor, both as the person logging in and as the individual sitting in front of the computer, trying to work.

Have you used GoToMyPC or another remote access service? Did you find it a productivity booster, or a bust? We’d like to hear your thoughts.

If you’re a lawyer interested in contributing an article or have an idea for a review, contact us.

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