3 Popular Free and Open Source Remote Desktop Software

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Need a remote access tool for your IT team? Check out these free software options to set up a secure remote connection and troubleshoot IT issues.

Header image showing an employee working in front of a globe. 3 Popular Free and Open Source Remote Desktop Software

The majority of the global workforce is now working remotely, and this trend is expected to continue well into the future. You may have handled a remote team before, or this may be your first time. Whatever the case, your employees shouldn’t be facing tech troubles when working from home. Remote support should be readily available, so their productivity and, as a result, your business revenue isn’t hampered.

A remote desktop solution helps your IT team access employees’ work devices remotely to troubleshoot reported issues. It also offers many cost benefits. Setting up remote desktops will cost you less than setting up standard desktops. Also, these devices run on virtual servers, which means you don’t have to purchase physical servers or spend money on their maintenance.

To help select a tool that meets your needs, we’ve created a list of three popular free and open source remote desktop software based on Google search engine ranking. All three remote utility tools offer a stand-alone, forever free module to get you started. If you need more features, you can choose to upgrade. Read our complete product selection methodology here.

3 popular free and open source remote desktop software (arranged alphabetically)


3 Popular Free and Open Source Remote Desktop Software

1. Remote Utilities

Remote Utilities is an on-premise remote desktop application that’s suitable for personal as well as business use. It allows the admin system to simultaneously connect with multiple host systems. Its key features include file transfer and sharing, real-time chat, remote print, remote desktop sharing, and remote session recording.

Transferring files between connected computer systems in Remote Utilities

Transferring files between connected computer systems in Remote Utilities (Source)

Let’s look at some key capabilities of Remote Utilities:

  • The data and files exchanged between connected systems are encrypted to ensure secure remote access.
  • The screen recorder mode lets you take screenshots of any remote device at regular intervals. You can also record high-definition videos of remote sessions for future reference or auditing purposes.
  • The multiuser chat function allows the exchange of text messages and voice and video chats between remote users. You can send a message to a specific user or broadcast it to multiple users.
  • The remote printing feature lets you print remote documents (located on remote systems) on local printers.

Upgrade cost: This remote desktop tool offers one free license key per user or company. Using the free key, you can control or access up to 10 remote computers simultaneously. If you need to add more devices, the paid license starts at $29 per endpoint (one-time subscription).


2. TightVNC

TightVNC is open source remote control software that supports Windows and Unix platforms. It uses a remote framebuffer (RFB) protocol to host and access remote desktop systems. File sharing, screen sharing, and video mirroring are some of its key features.


Remote desktop access configuration in TightVNC

Remote desktop access configuration in TightVNC (Source)

Let’s look at some key capabilities of TightVNC:

  • You can upload files from your local system to the TightVNC remote server, and vice versa.
  • The tool uses two passwords for remote access—one for read-only access and the other for full access. Based on the password entered, the TightVNC server allows or disallows keyboard and mouse access to any remote machine.
  • The tight encoding mechanism helps optimize picture quality in case of slow or intermittent connections.
  • Windows and Java viewers can resize their remote desktop for smaller screens. They can also zoom into any area of the remote screen for a better view.

Upgrade cost: None. The source code of TightVNC remote PC access software is available for free download.


3. UltraVNC

UltraVNC is an open source remote desktop app that uses virtual network computing (VNC), an RFB protocol, to set up remote desktop sessions. For remote PC access, the system sharing its desktop must run a VNC server, while the system accessing the shared desktop must run a VNC client. Screen sharing, file transfer, and remote support are some key features of the tool.

Connecting the admin system for remote computer access in UltraVNC

Connecting the admin system for remote computer access in UltraVNC (Source)

Let’s look at some key features of UltraVNC:

  • The tool’s DiskStation Manager (DSM) encryption technology secures all exchanges between admin and client systems.
  • It offers an embedded text chat tool to facilitate communication between all connected system users. The chat box can be minimized during screen updates and other activities.
  • The Single Click remote client module lets you transfer files and folders between the admin and client systems. Heavy files are compressed before a transfer.
  • Since the tool uses an RFB protocol, it’s compatible with other VNC products and allows you to set up remote sessions across platforms.

Upgrade cost: None. UltraVNC is available for free download.


Things to consider when choosing a remote desktop manager

In this article, we’ve provided information about three of the most popular free remote desktop software options. To choose the one that’s perfect for your business, we suggest you:

  • Speak to your IT team and check if they’re looking for any specific remote computer access features. Ensure these required features are available in the free version.
  • Check with vendors beforehand to see if there are any hidden charges not mentioned on the product websites.
  • Visit Capterra’s remote desktop software directory to read reviews of your shortlisted remote access software and get an in-depth understanding of its performance, features, user-friendliness, etc.


Methodology

We identified popular products for “free and open source remote desktop software” via incognito Google search on July 13, 2020. Products that appeared either individually on the first SERP page or at least twice on third-party listings during the search were shortlisted for further assessment.

Shortlisted products were evaluated against Capterra’s definition of remote desktop software: Remote desktop software allows employees to access their files and applications from multiple servers and assists IT departments with troubleshooting techniques to solve issues remotely.

The tools were further evaluated for a stand-alone free module that doesn’t need to be purchased post a limited period or expiry of usage limits. Tools that met all of the above criteria were selected for the article.

Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.

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