Secure Remote Access

Comparing Remote Access Alternatives

In this article, we’ll run through some of the available alternatives for remote access. Which of them is best depends on your particular use case and environment. Is it a home or business setting? What type of remote access is needed? Is the purpose to allow an employee to work on his office computer from a remote location, or is the purpose to allow tech support located elsewhere to take control of a computer to help solve a technical problem?

Remote Access vs VPN

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are one of the most common ways that organizations grant remote access to employees. With a VPN, users are able to log into the corporate network from other locations. A VPN, however, doesn’t provide the same capabilities as a remote desktop solution. With a VPN, the device being used to access the network has to have some form of client software installed that allows it to work with the data being accessed on the network. With remote access solutions that utilize remote desktop services, the user has remote access not only to their data, but to their entire desktop – along with its computing power. Users can run the applications on their office computer using a laptop, tablet, or smartphone – from wherever in the world they happen to be. Moreover, clientless remote access solutions do all this without requiring installation of any software or plugins on the end user device.

Remote Access vs Remote Assistance

Remote access and remote assistance are similar in that both allow users to remotely operate another computer. Both require some form of remote desktop services to be installed and/or configured on the machine you plan to access.

Remote assistance is typically used in tech support type of situations. For instance, when a user is experiencing technical issues, he or she can grant a remote support technician permission to control the computer or laptop directly, rather than having tech support talk them through the necessary steps by telephone or chat. Generally speaking, remote assistance solutions require the user to grant permission to the remote support person in real-time, and both are able to view the computer screen simultaneously.

Remote access is more appropriate for users who need access to a computer that is located elsewhere; for instance, a telecommuter or a field representative. Remote access solutions do not require a user to be present at the other end to initiate the remote session. Instead, the user logs in independently to a pre-existing remote desktop account by entering their user name and password. There is a wide range of different types of remote access offerings on the market for both personal and corporate use, each offering different feature sets and with varying degrees of complexity, ease of use, security, and cost.


In summary, different remote access alternatives are best suited for different use cases, due to their divergent features and capabilities:

  • VPNs are most appropriate when all you are looking for is to access a network remotely in a fashion similar to the way you would access it locally.
  • Remote assistance is best suited for situations such as tech support, when you want to allow someone else to take control of your computer.
  • Remote access is what you need if you’re looking to work remotely on a physical or virtual desktop that is located elsewhere.


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Gerry Grealish

Gerry Grealish

Chief Marketing Officer | Ericom Software
Gerry is a security industry veteran, bringing over 20 years of Marketing and product experience in cybersecurity and related technologies. Responsible for marketing and business development, Gerry previously was at Symantec, where he was responsible for the go-to-market activities for the company’s Network Security portfolio. Prior to Symantec, Gerry was at Blue Coat, which he joined as part of Blue Coat’s acquisition of venture-backed CASB innovator, Perspecsys, where he was CMO.