Remote Access Tool – Teamviewer Review

As I’ve mentioned before, my primary role at my company is to develop form & web based applications. I prefer the speed of developing a form based application (i.e a windows application) over web apps, which I find can be slowed down by user interface issues. Debugging can also be harder in web apps and particularly so with the language I develop in; a java like, structured programming language but unfortunately not OO.

One place where web apps rule though is in trouble shooting and rolling out bug fixes. Because it’s a web site you can access it easily, to trouble shoot, and once a fix is made you simply roll it on the production system and Bob’s your uncle. This is from a hosted scenario (which is what we do).

But when it comes to form based applications, you just never know what a client is talking about when they call up for a support issue. Or perhaps you kind of know what they are saying but it makes no sense. It’s times like this that you need to be able to remote into your clients desktop and ‘see’ what it is they are talking about.

There are several tools for doing this and we use the majority of them: Microsoft Remote Desktop, Symantec pcAnywhere, VNC and even the odd Citrix client. The problem with these remote access apps is that they generally require a ‘host server’ application to be running on the end you wish to connect to, which needs to be configured and then their firewall might also need some configuration to forward certain ports etc. That’s fine for larger clients that have the necessary infrastructure in place, but some are just too small to do this or even know how to do this. Add to this the issue of dynamic IPs (so you never quite know what IP to connect to), software firewalls and general ‘user’ issues and it starts to get tricky and even annoying.

This is where TeamViewer, apparently developed by the same guys that made Tight VNC, comes into play. The host simply downloads an executable (TeamViewer Quick Support) that they run whenever a connection is to be made to them. No install, no wizards, no configuration, no nothing – just a single executable. The client, in this case me, then runs TeamViewer (which does need to be installed) and connects to the host. This is accomplished by entering in a ‘Partner ID’ code and then a ‘Session Password’ – both of these are supplied via the TeamViewer QS app. See this link for an example and the following screen shot (as seen by me):

Note: I’ve cleared certain information.

Ok, so far it’s pretty standard. But the beautiful part of it is this: no IPs, no firewall issues (it has it’s own ‘dyngate’ routing that bypasses firewall security somehow), file transfer ability, SSL security and a host interface so simple even my Gran would know how to use it. On top of this, it’s free! Yes, free… for the first 15 minutes (or 30 minutes if you register) of each connection and only for non-commerical usage. If you plan to use it commercially, you’ll have to giddy up some cash.

This little app really has been a time saver in helping us being able to ‘see’ our clients desktop without having to go through all the rigmarole of installing the above mentioned remoting tools.

So, if you have need for something similar – give TeamViewer a go, I think you’ll like it!


Update 24/07/2009: This post is over 3 years old and yet it still gets comments posted on it fairly regularly. It’s by far the most viewed post in this blog with an average of over 455 views a month for the past 3 years. Even though this blog is no longer active, I thought I should update it with regards to security concerns that have been raised in the comments. The update follows:

Teamviewer uses a “middle man” to enable it to bypass firewalls which saves the hassle of configuring your router/modem/firewall. Each side of a Teamviewer connection connects to this middle man, which is a Teamviewer server, and it handles the connection and routing of traffic between the two sides. The traffic is apparently encrypted, according to Teamviewers website, but any time you introduce a middle man, it raises potential security issues. If they are not encrypting the traffic, they could be snooping it etc. In the Trust No One world, this is not an ideal solution. So if security is a major concern for you, perhaps this is not the solution for you.

However, according to Teamviewer’s help manual, you can setup your own Teamviewer server. This means that everything is now routed through your own server (middle man) and you no longer need to worry about your traffic going through a third parties server. This is the best option if security is very important to you.

That said, I still feel that Teamviewer is one of the best free solutions for remote access and is fine for most instances. This post was originally posted from the view of offering support as thus this context needs to be taken into account.

People have also commented on Teamviewer taking over port 80 and not allowing Apache/IIS to use these ports. Stackoverflow has a post that apparently addresses this issue, check it here.

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50 Responses to Remote Access Tool – Teamviewer Review

  1. 59ideas says:

    Thanks for this tips. You might also be interested in Hamachi.

  2. Emily says:

    There are several remote access tools, but what I would personally suggest anyone is this wonderful product called RemotePC.

    You can use your own web browser to access another machine without any installs. This product works remarkably behind your proxy servers and your host computer does not even require any static IP address.

    They do have a remote helpdesk solution, by which you can access your clients system to fix their issues or whatever you like to…

  3. muchacocha says:

    Here are some links that I believe will be interested

  4. Chris says:

    Really great tool für desktop-share and remote-desktop.

    Easy to use, very fast and no problems to connect to customers.
    One of the advantages is to use ID’s instead of ip-adresses.
    That makes is very easy to connect do my customers, cause they haven’t to search for their local ip-adress

  5. Mike says:

    I just have tested Teamviewer and i am surprised.
    very easy to use, don’t install – just start it.

    Just exchange your ID with your partner and connect.
    Very interesting is the feature to swith the remote-control between you and your partner.

  6. Dennis says:

    Thank you very much for the info about TeamViewer.

    I have just tested TeamViewer and I’m very satisfied with it.
    Really great product!!!

  7. Poseidon says:

    Good news for private users:

    TeamViewer is now free for private use.
    You can use it 25 hours per month for free

  8. Z says:

    This is the best remote admin tool I have seen so far. I tried many of them and as one reviewer said, all of them have some significant issues. Teamviewer is very simpe. straighforward, easy to use, fast and you can even switch remote control between partners (admin and client).

    If you are computer business owner and need remote administration/support, teamviewer is an excellent solution.

    Five star software!!!

  9. mario says:

    i dont get it am stuck someone help please 😦

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  11. Frank says:

    I use it to, BUT, if you install it to start when windows does, it seems to start also on port 80 (http).
    If you go to your home IP in a browser you get the message “This site is running TeamViewer.”!
    This is not so ‘nice’ because every one now knows that you are using Teamviewer and it presents a security risk!
    My biggest problem was that I had a small app running on port 80 and now it is no longer reachable. This app doesn’t annouce itself so for the rest of the world it seemed that there was nothing on my port……

    • UwV says:

      After talking with TeamViewer tech support, I received an email giving me instructions on how to disable TeamViewer from listening on Port 80. Instructions are as follows:

      1. Open port 5938 (TCP) on your firewall.
      2. Change the following registry keys.

      * [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\
      TeamViewer\Version4] Key ’GatewayAllowed’ set to 0
      *
      [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\TeamViewer\Version4] Key ’ListenHttp’ set to 0

      After you make these changes, you should no longer have TeamViewer listening in on port 80, killing your local web server.

  12. Jacques says:

    Give Crossloop a try. Works the same way and it’s free.
    http://www.crossloop.com

    • Graham says:

      Teamviewer is better than Crossloop because you don’t need someone at the other end to give you a code to gain access. So for doing upgrades on Client PCs early in the morning when no one is in yet to give you the access code, it is much better and also the file transfer is much faster.

  13. Johan de Beer says:

    Hi all,

    Much appreciating the content of this thread. However, I feel that to little discussion is made in regards the security of this product.

    Being responsible for the network security in my company, I would like to enquire whether anybody has had any security issues or concerns with this software.

    I note the insert with Frank’s comments and also note that it is the first real comment about security in this thread. Is it that this software is so secure that no-one has anything to say about it, or is it that everyone here is not too concerned about the security issues? For one, the “background” operation and bypassing of firewalls concerns me greatly. Who is to say that while this software is operating in the background no-one is logging onto your computer/s (if on a network) etc etc etc?

    Any comments?

  14. Roni says:

    You shuld try PortXPort.
    It’s free, and lets you access your files at home from anywhere.
    No more: “Oops… I forgot copy the important file to my flash memory”!

  15. Dick says:

    Seems a shame that, in the latest version, they have muddled up the functions of joining a session and creating a session. If you swap the meanings of any of these labels (including on their website), you will understand the software much more readily.

  16. Nancy says:

    Funny – my AVG identifies it as containing a trojan

    “Infection”;”Trojan horse Agent.AUNY”;” [PATH]TeamViewer_Setup.exe”;””;”1/16/2009, 5:25:40 AM”

    Yes, I did download it from their site and not a “mirror”

  17. matt says:

    what about my on line banking operations? are thay safe with that software instaled on my pc ?theoreticaly is it posible that somebody in control of my pc will be able to take over all the operations

    • elfjevm says:

      Hey Matt,

      Did you ever get an answer to that? I am about to install it today but wanted to double check what the security issues are.

      Thanks a lot!
      EVM

  18. Heckle says:

    Wanted to thank you for this suggestion. Was stuck tonight and this fixed everything.

  19. me says:

    loL…………..all of u~

  20. smuggler says:

    Hi,

    I’ve tested this software in my test environment, and it really looks great.

    Now there’s my final concern about using it to access my personal computer:

    Sefety! The way I see it, when I open a host/server, the software contacts a master server on teamviewer side, so that they generate an ID, and keep track of it. That’s the way they bypass IP entering on client connections.

    On their site, they state that the connections are encrypted with a certificate (256bit) and it’s secure, bla bla bla, even they have no access to the data that passes around. Great.

    But what about it practice? Without any marketing stuff … is it really safe?

    Thanks

    • olorinsledge says:

      Smuggler,

      For Teamviewer to work it requires a third party which is outside of a firewall. So the “support” side’s Teamviewer connects to this third party, as does the “receiving support” sides Teamviewer. The third party server then handles the connection between the two instances of Teamviewer. This third party server is managed by Teamviewer.

      This means we need to trust Teamviewers servers to be doing the right thing. Steve Gibson, from GRC, states you should TNO (Trust No One) if you want 100% security. So yes, if security is a big concern, you should use this product aware of the potential security issue.

      I do believe that Teamviewer used to allow you to puchase a license to run your “third party” server to act as the routing server. In this scenario, it is 100% secure because it is all being routed through your own server. That said, I don’t know if they still offer it and it obviously costs money.

  21. david says:

    I got the message “This site is running Teamviewer” and I have never touched this software! I’m somewhat worried. How did it get there?

  22. Gerry says:

    I’m trying to delete the TeamViewQS file and it won’t let me. Says program is being used. As far as I know I am not using it…is there a risk that hackers could use this program while scanning open ports etc..to get into my pc..have been having a lot of pc issues lately..

  23. Sam says:

    @smuggler
    Thank you for the clarification. I’ve been pulling my hair for about fifteen minutes after reading this blog and the product documentation. I was trying to figure out how in the world entering an ID/password gets you to bypass the firewall/routers on both ends. The parties connect to teamviewer’s hosted server and the teamviewer coordinates the sessions. They didn’t say a word about it. This is not a good solution for even the semi secure system. I don’t know if I want someone in Europe see my corporate remote sessions.

    I couldn’t figure out how in the world just entering an ID/password connects

  24. Anonymous says:

    I also have concerns about the “security” part of this product. The fact of not having full control of the teamviewer connections by allowing a man-in-the-middle is my biggest concern. Especially used in corporate environments I think this imposes a real security threat.

  25. Paul says:

    The “port 80” issue has screwed me right royally. I used to use Teamviewer on a bunch of servers, but have found that when they reboot, they grab 80, so that neither IIS not Apache can start. It looks as though you can turn this off with a registry setting, but as soon as you open the Teamviewer options, it gets reset to listen.

    Apart from being paranoid enough that I don’t want to advertise that I use Teamviewer, and also feeling taken advantage because my clients’ servers become their billboards, this makes Teamviewer pretty useless for me. If I can’t put it on any servers that use port 80 (and that includes every SBS that I manage), I may as well ot put it on anything at all.

    The other aspect is that they state *definitively* that they only talk *out* on 80. If they are lying about this, what else are the lying about.

    If I had known about this before purchasing TV, I would never have touched it. Now I’m saddled with a couple of (expensive) licenses that I cannot use. Anyone interested in buying a few?

    • olorinsledge says:

      Paul,

      I’ve always used Teamviewer where the opposite party has to start it up and give me the session ID, so I’m not familiar with your issue.

      However, I did look into this and there appears to be an answer to your issue: http://serverfault.com/questions/11202/disable-teamviewer-from-stealing-port-80

      Not sure if it works, but give it a try!

    • UwV says:

      After talking with TeamViewer tech support, I received an email giving me instructions on how to disable TeamViewer from listening on Port 80. Instructions are as follows:

      1. Open port 5938 (TCP) on your firewall.
      2. Change the following registry keys.

      * [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\
      TeamViewer\Version4] Key ’GatewayAllowed’ set to 0
      *
      [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\TeamViewer\Version4] Key ’ListenHttp’ set to 0

      After you make these changes, you should no longer have TeamViewer listening in on port 80, killing your local web server.

  26. lexy says:

    is it like spyin on people :S

  27. Nym says:

    Olorin: what made you state “apparently developed by the same guys that made Tight VNC”? (since I’m responding to a 4-year old post, I’d understand if you don’t recall)

  28. John says:

    The best one I’ve found so far is MyGreenPC at http://www.mygreenpc.com

    It’s “Free Currently” and i can even power-on my PC remotely with this service. Plus it uses Remote desktop protocol so the entire experience is top-notch.

    You guys should try it – you’ll love it!

  29. […] anonieme proxy? Natuurlijk zijn wij onmiddellijk internet opgefietst, waar wij stuitten op ‘Remote Access Tool – Teamviewer Review‘. Daarin lazen wij: “The host simply downloads an executable (TeamViewer Quick Support) […]

  30. […] Yes, I know there are people all over the Interwebs gushing over how wonderful it is. […]

    • Trif' says:

      Hi, it’s writed :
      “However, according to Teamviewer’s help manual, you can setup your own Teamviewer server. This means that everything is now routed through your own server (middle man) and you no longer need to worry about your traffic going through a third parties server. This is the best option if security is very important to you.”

      I can’t find any documentation about the establishment of his own server teamviewer

  31. […] Remote Access Tool – Teamviewer Review […]

  32. Lance says:

    ScreenConnect is a great remote support product too! We just made the switch over from TV business to SC. http://www.screenconnect.com/

  33. Janet says:

    Teamviewer is good packaged software solution for personal use. But for business users, software-based solution usually has high up-front cost because you need to have a dedicated computer to host it to avoid disruptions from other applications and extensive time to setup and maintain.

    For business users, appliance-based solution may be a better alternative. Appliance has low upfront cost because it comes as a complete hardware and software bundled and pre-configured package. And there is no monthly fee and no maintenance required. It is also easy to deploy (plug-and-play). You may want to check out RHUB (http://www.rhubcom.com/), the leading remote access appliance vendor.

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  37. joe says:

    How does Teamviewer compare to PCAnywhere and Radmin?

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