Setting up remote Desktop access is usually something you wish you’d done just after you realise you need to take control of a remote computer – like when you’re called upon to fix a distant friend or family member’s PC, for example.
Taking control of a remote computer is straightforward if you can get physical access to a computer to install and configure an appropriate application, but trying to talk someone through the process over the phone can be pretty much impossible. Which is where CrossLoop comes in handy.
On the face of it, CrossLoop is a kind of social network for technical support – people with a problem sign up, find someone offering support for a price they like and then use the CrossLoop application to grant remote access to their computer for them to (hopefully) fix it.
I’m sure this works well, but what’s more interesting than the CrossLoop service is the CrossLoop application itself. Once installed and running, this displays a dialog box with two options – to connect to a remote computer and to grant remote access to your computer. The clever bit is that all you than need to connect to a remote computer is for that remote computer to be running CrossLoop too – and the random 12-digit code the application generates.
So, assuming your troubled friend still has a working computer and an internet connection, all they need to do is download and install CrossLoop (there’s no need to register for the service – you just provide an email address), run the program and tell you their code. Type the ID into your CrossLoop dialog box and a remote Desktop session is established in seconds – that’s all there is to it. The client can also switch between view-only and active control modes at will, which is a nice nod to safety.
CrossLoop is essentially an idiot-proof VNC client/server and while it is still subject to the same firewall restrictions as other VNC applications, its sheer ease of use makes it far better-suited to remote support situations (it also seems more able to punch through firewalls than other VNC apps, but I’m still trying to figure out how).
And since the ID codes used to establish connections are randomly generated each time the application is run, those connections are essentially disposable one-offs.
Unfortunately, CrossLoop is only available for Windows, so it’s not a complete remote Desktop solution. But then no one ever has a problem using a Mac, right..?
Addendeum: There appear to be a few quirks with starting (though not using) CrossLoop. When the program starts, it often displays a blank window that should show an ad. Close this and the program should run normally. If you just get another blank window, close it and run the program again. And again, until it works – it often takes a few tries.