Remote desktop software can let employees securely access their work computers from home or help IT technicians resolve customer computer issues without having to make an onsite visit.
From a small business wanting its employees to work remotely without taking their computers home to an enterprise needing to offer technical support to its customers, there’s a lot to consider when looking for an affordable platform that can quickly and safely transfer sensitive data online.
We’ve reviewed the best remote desktop software based on price, security, features, reputation, and more. Here are our top seven picks.
The 7 Best Remote Desktop Software of 2021
Best Overall: ISL Online
We chose ISL Online as the best overall because of its ease of use for both customers and remote workers, cross-platform support, and flexible pricing structure.
Easy to use
Unlimited user license available
Cloud-based or on-premises
Expensive for single users
Remote printing is complicated
ISL takes its name from the abbreviation of the internet services layer, a software application developed in 2001, the year the company was founded. Today it offers remote desktop support software in 100 countries and receives high ratings from top software review websites, including Software Advice and Capterra.
It lets users remotely access any computer or Android, iOS, or Windows phone from a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer or mobile device. IT technicians can collaborate with customers in real-time with high-speed screen sharing and remotely transfer files, reboot devices, and install new software.
This provider offers a secure connection to unattended computers using 256-bit AES encryption and two-factor authentication. Customers can also easily grant support access to their computer or phone via live chat, mobile app, or online portal with just one click.
ISL offers a number of pricing options with a 15-day free trial. A cloud license, which supports unlimited sessions, computers, and users, costs $469 per year. The company also offers a pay-per-use plan for $145 per year for 500 session minutes. Finally, users can select a self-hosted software solution for a one-time price of $990.
ISL Online’s flexible pricing, multi-platform support, security protocols, and easy user access make it the best overall choice for a business offering secure remote customer support or that wants to offer an easy teleworking environment for its employees.
Best for One User or Small Teams: LogMeIn
LogMeIn is our choice as the best remote desktop software for one user or small teams for a few reasons. In addition to affordable plans for individuals based on the number of computers accessed, the company also offers generous cloud storage, a complimentary LastPass subscription, and 24/7 phone support.
1TB of cloud storage
Includes LastPass Premium
24/7 phone support
Higher price for businesses
Some sync issues between Mac and PC
Founded in 2003, LogMeIn is a pioneering software as a service (SaaS) company offering a number of cloud-based solutions to over two million users worldwide. The company gets an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) although it is not accredited with the organization.
LogMeIn offers everything a user would expect from a remote desktop tool, including remote access from PC and Mac computers and mobile devices for unlimited users, drag-and-drop file transferring, remote printing, multi-monitor displays, screen sharing, and more.
The company also throws in a few extra perks, including 1TB of cloud storage, a free LastPass Premium license for secure password storage, and 24/7 phone support, all with robust SSL/TLS (OpenSSL) security.
LogMeIn’s base $30 per month plan allows users to access up to two computers with all the features above. Access for up to five computers costs $70 per month and includes three LastPass Premium licenses, and access for up to 10 computers comes to $129 per month with five LastPass Premium licenses. All plans support an unlimited number of users and come with a 14-day free trial.
LogMeIn offers affordable and easy-to-use remote desktop management with access to online storage and password management, making it the best option for individuals and small teams.
Best for Large Companies: RemotePC
RemotePC tops our list as the best remote desktop user for large companies because it offers scalable pricing for growing teams as well as remote chat and whiteboard sharing for easy collaboration between customers and IT technicians.
Easy to learn and use
More affordable than other remote tools
24/7 live chat support
Slow for adding new users
Limited features on web app
RemotePC is one of three products developed by IDrive Inc., which was founded in 1995 to offer cloud storage, online backup, and remote access solutions. Although IDrive is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau, it does enjoy an A+ rating from the organization.
RemotePC lets users access any computer remotely from any PC, Mac, or Linux computer as well as iOS and Android devices using secure AES-256 encryption with no need to install any software. Users can choose always-on access to offer access to the computer remotely at any time or one-time access using a unique sharing key.
RemotePC also makes it easy to simply drag and drop files between computers. Users can listen to audio on remote computers, print documents, chat between computers, and even collaborate on a shared whiteboard.
RemotePC offers a variety of scalable pricing options. A single-user license with remote access to two computers costs only $29.50 per year. Teams can choose from three plans that allow unlimited users to access a limited number of computers:
- SOHO: $69.50 per year for 10 computers
- Team: $249 per year for 50 computers
- Enterprise: $499 per year for 100 computers
All plans include video conferencing and 24/7 email and chat support. The Team and Enterprise plans also offer single user sign-on, on-demand remote helpdesk for customers, and a seven-day free trial.
In short, RemotePC is our pick as the best for large companies due to its ease of use and affordable pricing that makes it easy for small and large teams to offer remote computer support to a growing number of customers.
Best Free Software: Chrome Remote Desktop
Google has entered the remote desktop software market with a free tool that lets users access any computer remotely through its Chrome browser. Although the software lacks many of the remote features of similar tools, it offers simple and seamless cross-platform access at no cost, making it the best free software of our review.
No remote printing or file sharing
Can only be used on Chrome browsers
Requires a Google account
Originally an extension for the Chrome desktop browser, Chrome Remote Desktop is a standalone tool that lets any user with a Google account access a computer remotely through Chrome or from an iOS or Android device.
Setup is slightly more complicated with Chrome Remote Desktop than with other remote tools. First, you will need to have a Google account. Next, the device being accessed needs to have the Chrome app installed and must then share a PIN to allow others remote access.
Because access occurs through the browser, security is limited to HTTPS, the same secured protocol merchants use to protect credit card information during online transactions. A PIN is required each time a user wants to access a remote computer, and multiple PINs can be set up for each device.
While Chrome Remote Desktop doesn’t support remote printing, chat, or even file sharing, the software is extremely easy to use and responsive, allowing users to switch to keyboard or trackpad mode and configure key mappings to customize access per device.
Despite its simplicity, Chrome Remote Desktop is our choice for a great free solution for users who want easy and seamless remote access between any computer or device using just a Chrome browser.
Best Value: Zoho Assist
Zoho Assist is our pick for the best value because it offers a wide range of low-priced plans for both individuals and businesses based on what each user needs, as well as a free plan that provides users with simple but effective remote management.
Limited free plan
No plan offers all features
Top plan limited to 25 computers
In 2005, Zoho launched a web-based word processor and CRM to provide small businesses with low-cost office software. Today it offers a full suite of software for small businesses including Zoho Assist, which wins our spot for the best value due to its range of feature-rich, low-priced plans. The company boasts high ratings for software review websites, including Software Advice, Capterra, and G2.
Zoho separates its software into two tiers of plans. It’s Remote Support plans are well-suited for IT support teams and include one technician, file transfers, multi-monitor navigation, and up to six simultaneous sessions. Mid- and top-tier plans include rebranding, screen sharing, remote printing, mobile apps, session recording, and more.
Remote Support Pricing
- Standard: $8 per month
- Professional: $13 per month
- Enterprise: $21 per month
Zoho’s Unattended Access plans support 25 unattended computers and include bulk deployment, unlimited technicians, and group permissions. Its top-tier plan adds remote printing, diagnostic tools, voice and video chat, rebranding, session recording, and more.
Unattended Access Pricing
- Standard: $8 per month
- Professional: $13 per month
Zoho also offers a free hybrid plan with support for one technician, five unattended computers, chat, clipboard sharing, and one concurrent session. Overall, the company’s range of affordable plans segmented by user type allows businesses to get the best value based on what they need, earning it the top spot in this category.
Best for Mobile Access: Parallels Access
Parallels Access lets users easily access their computers and files remotely from their mobile devices. We picked it as the best for mobile access because it offers an easy-to-use, mobile-first remote desktop experience at an affordable price.
Dedicated mobile experience
Access PC files on a mobile device
Limited remote control access
Lack of advanced features
Parallels launched its first product in 2004, which allowed users to run multiple virtual computers. In addition to virtual software solutions for desktops, the company also offers Parallels Access, which we chose as the best for mobile access due to its friendly and intuitive mobile-first design. Although the company is not accredited with the BBB, it has an A+ rating from the organization.
One of the best features of Parallels Access is its interface. Rather than simply crunching down a desktop onto a mobile screen, the software serves up a clean, mobile-friendly version for easy control and management. An intuitive set of controls makes it easy to transfer files between connected devices and cloud storage devices.
Parallels Access uses SSL data security and 256-bit AES encryptions to transfer data securely between devices and also allows users to configure the security features to their needs. Customer support is available 24/7 via live chat to help with any account or setup issues.
Parallels Access costs $19.99 for one year and includes one user account, unlimited mobile devices, connection to five computers, and a 14-day free trial. A business plan is also available for $49 per year and supports unlimited users, unlimited mobile devices, connection to five computers, and the option to add and five-computer packs for an extra $49 per year.
Best for Team Collaboration: TeamViewer
As the name implies, TeamViewer is a remote desktop solution that lets multiple users easily collaborate over remote computer connections. In addition, its communication and presentation tools make it our top choice for team collaboration.
Easy to set up and use
Robust group communication tools
Flexible pricing plans
Can’t view two remote systems simultaneously
Mobile access costs extra
TeamViewer was launched in 2005 to provide a tool for online support and is our choice as the best for team collaboration due to its robust collaboration, communication, and presentation features. The company is not accredited with the BBB but has an A+ rating with the organization.
TeamViewer lets users access remote computers and devices running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, and iOS. It also offers drag-and-drop file transfer, remote printing, and secure unattended access using two-factor authentication and 256-bit AES encryption.
In addition to interactive screen sharing and online whiteboards, multiple users can also communicate and collaborate with the software’s built-in video conferencing tool and instant messaging chat. Combined with its cross-platform remote sharing capabilities, TeamViewer allows teams of any size to run interactive demonstrations in online meetings while taking control of users' computers for real-time collaboration.
TeamViewer offers a free version for personal use with limited features as well as the following paid plans, all of which include a 14-day free trial.
|Feature||Single User||Multi User||For Teams|
|Price||$49 per month||$99 per month||$199 per month|
|Remote & Unattended Access||✔||✔||✔|
|Managed Devices||Up to 200||Up to 300||Up to 500|
|User Access Reporting||✔||✔|
|Multiple Sessions||1 channel included (add on up to 5)||3 channels included (add on up to 10)|
While there are many great remote desktop platforms each with its own unique set of features, we felt that ISL Online was the best choice for most users. It offers a robust set of remote access features, advanced security, and full cross-platform compatibility, all with some of the most flexible pricing options we’ve seen.
For personal use or single users, Zoho Assist and Chrome Remote Desktop top our list, the former for its impressive set of features for a very low price, and the latter for its ease of use, simple remote access, and free price tag.
For businesses, both RemotePC and LogMeIn offer robust support and affordable pricing to help businesses of any size set up and scale their remote access capabilities as needed. Finally, Parallels Access and TeamViewer offer the best mobile access experience and team collaboration tools respectively.
|Best Remote Desktop Software|
|Software||Why We Picked It||Notable Features|
|ISL Online||Best Overall||Cloud-based or self-hosted options and pay-per-use plans|
|LogMeIn||Best for One User or Small Teams||1TB cloud storage and free LastPass subscription|
|RemotePC||Best for Large Companies||Scalable pricing based on computers accessed|
|Chrome Remote Desktop||Best Free Software||Free browser-based software for Google users|
|Zoho Assist||Best Value||Separate remote support and unattended access plans|
|Parallels Access||Best for Mobile Access||Mobile-friendly remote experience|
|TeamViewer||Best for Team Collaboration||Video conferencing and support for up to 500 devices|
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Remote Desktop Software
What Is Remote Desktop Software?
Remote desktop software allows users to access computers or mobile devices in one location from a computer or mobile device in another location. This software can access and transfer files, play audio, or print documents from remote computers and devices remotely, and even reboot or wake an unattended computer if needed.
To reduce security issues, most remote desktop software uses two-factor authentication, 256-bit AES encryption, and SSL, the same standards used by government agencies, banks, and online merchants who process credit card payments.
What Does Remote Desktop Software Allow You to Do?
Remote desktop software lets employees work from home without needing to be in front of their work computer. Using remote access from their home computer, employees can access their work computer and transfer files, run programs, print documents, share presentations, and do just about anything they could do from the office.
Remote desktop software also allows support teams and IT technicians to help their customers with computer issues without onsite visits. Most good software makes it easy for customers to give service techs access with little technical knowledge and can also help them communicate with screen sharing and live chat. Support agents can perform nearly every function remotely as if they were at a customer’s computer, including rebooting, installing software, moving files, and accessing system settings.
What's the Difference Between Remote Assistance Access and Remote Desktop Software?
While there are many similarities between remote assistance and remote desktop software, there are also some important differences.
Remote assistance software is primarily used by support techs to offer remote technical assistance to a user’s computer. The user must grant the tech access by an invitation in order to make the connection. Both the user and technician will be looking at the same screen at the same time and both can control the computer as needed.
Remote desktop software can also work in the same way as remote assistance software, allowing technicians to access and control a user’s computer remotely. The main difference, however, is that the user’s computer typically locks them out so the tech can work without interference.
Remote desktop software can also maintain a persistent connection to a remote computer, even if there is no one accessing it at the time. That lets employees login to their office computer from home anytime they want to access files, print documents, share presentations, or whatever else they would normally do at their desk.
What Does Remote Desktop Software Cost?
Desktop software is typically priced based on the number of users each plan supports and sometimes the number of computers that can be accessed. Higher-priced plans also include advanced features, like remote printing, session recording, single sign-on, and more.
In our reviews, we found that remote desktop software averages $20 to $30 per month for a single user and access to two to five computers. Enterprise-level plans that allow access to unlimited devices typically cost $500 per year. Some companies also offer self-hosted software for a one-time payment of nearly $1,000.
How We Chose the Best Remote Desktop Software
We looked at over a dozen remote desktop software options for this review. At the top of our list were platforms that were easy to use since we weren’t assuming that only IT technicians would be using the software.
Next, we looked at providers that offered flexible pricing options. We didn’t feel that small businesses that want to give remote access to employees working from home should have to pay enterprise pricing, nor should individuals wanting to connect to just one or two devices remotely.
We also looked at software that offered unique features to support the needs of different users. This included software that could be easily used on mobile devices and provided teams with additional collaboration and communication tools.
Finally, we looked at reviews and ratings from top agencies and review sites to ensure that our selections were widely regarded as stable and trustworthy and that provided the level of customer support needed to manage complex technical issues.