Symantec's pcAnywhere software has a solid track record in remote admin, and the new release offers a number of enhancements and features while retaining earlier useful capabilities.
Symantec has also addressed earlier security concerns by providing a way to include a security code that must match at both ends of any connection.
Installation is simple, and the system can dynamically install a small client program on the target computer that does not have the full product already installed. There are three main modes of operation – Remote Control, Remote Management, and File Transfer. Remote Control gives full control of the target machine and also supports chat, which allows the administrator to have a conversation with the user through a text window.
Remote Management is designed to provide a way to troubleshoot a system without taking full control of it. By providing diagnostic tools such as task and service management, an event log viewer, access to the registry and other system files, it is possible to examine a system, make changes, and then restart without ever leaving Remote Management. These tools run on the management machine, reducing network traffic by only transferring updated information between machines. File Transfer offers normal file handling, and provides a command queue structure, which can be used to stack transfer requests in sequence.
Commands waiting in the queue can be cancelled or be re-ordered as needed. It is also possible to save the contents of a command queue to a file so that a number of administrative tasks can be automated.
In the enterprise version, Symantec has also provided a useful security tool in the shape of the Remote Access Perimeter Scanner, which scans and reports any unsecured remote access host machines located on the network. The scanning process will also look for other supplier's products.
The system can now operate with Linux hosts, either with the Linux host software or by using the Web Remote feature, and pcAnywhere Mobile adds support for PocketPC-based PDAs and smartphones.