Every time I remotely control a computer to help a relative or customer overcome a vexing computer issue, my thoughts harken back to the ominous intro from the 1960s’ TV series TheOuter Limits: “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission….” In fact, I’ve actually quoted the monologue when a client starts messing with the mouse or typing while I’m trying to work my magic from afar.
The point is, what was once tongue-in-cheek sci-fi, is now reality, and has been for quite a while. The fascinating and incredibly useful remote-desktop software that allows you to operate another computer over a long distance as if it were your own is now two decades old. But while it’s not new, faster networking and broadband has rendered the remote desktop experience far speedier and more enjoyable. Under optimal conditions, it’s nearly as facile as being there in person.
In addition to allowing you to help a family member of business associate with their computer problems, it’s a handy way to access your own various work or home systems remotely. Since use cases and needs vary, our recommendations below will help lead you to the best remote-desktop software for your purposes.
Note that a server is the software on the computer to be controlled, and a client is the program that does the controlling.
1. TeamViewer – Best free remote desktop for occasional use
Free for personal use
Easy to use, fast, and reliable
Available video-help facility
Supports desktop and mobile devices
Doesn’t require installation to use
Main screen can initially confuse new users
Occasional nags for free users
TeamViewer is easy, free for personal/occasional use, and has all the remote-desktop software extras such as chat functionality, support for file transfers, and multiple-display support. Those features separate it from our other choice freebie—Chrome Remote Desktop. TeamViewer is also exceedingly friendly to new users/helpees with a “portable” mode that eliminates the need for installation. The only thing that keeps TeamViewer from being an unequivocal recommendation as a free option is that if you use it more than occasionally you will get pestered with messages essentially reminding you not to abuse the privilege. For the occasional use though, TeamViewer’s free option can’t be beat.
TeamViewer is laudable as a licensed business option for all the reasons mentioned above, as well as the additional support for Zoom meetings and video help; but in that regard, there are less pricey options.
2. Chrome Remote Desktop – Best free remote desktop for unlimited use
Free with Google account and Chrome browser (on any OS)
Easy to install and use
Permanent remote access
One-off screen sharing
No chat function
No multiple-display support
Fast and free, Chrome Remote Desktop is available on any operating system that supports the Chrome browser, including, of course, Chrome OS. Android and iOS are also taken care of so you can control computers using your phone. CRD supports both unattended access and one-off screen sharing sessions. It also supports file transfers, but lacks a chat function and support for multiple displays, so it’s not a great option for pros who are supporting a number of different users and need more flexibility.
3. Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection – Best for businesses running Windows Pro
Free with Windows Pro or above
Clients for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS
Not available with Windows Home
Firewall/network configuration may be required
Controls only Windows computers
Free with Windows Pro or Enterprise
When it comes to remote-desktop software for controlling a number of business PCs, you will most likely to have to pay for a license, save for this specific scenario: The computers you want to control are all running either the Pro or Enterprise versions of Windows. The device you are using to control those machines can be running any version of Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS. If that describes your needs, Windows Remote Desktop Connection is a worthy option.
It requires some technical chops to configure the router and firewall properly—something any IT pro should have no problem with. The results are speedy performance, thanks to its peer-to-peer connections, and a capable, if basic feature set. You don’t get chat, and can only transfer files Windows-to-Windows, but if saving money is your goal, this is a great way to remotely control Windows computers for free.
4. VNC Connect – Best for businesses with mixed operating systems
Control Windows, macOS, Linux, and Pi computers
Clients for all, plus iOS and Android
Less than $4 per PC
Control, file transfer, and chat
Direct and web portal connections
Requires some networking chops
May require router configuration
$3.39 per month per computer (billed annually)
Though there are free remote-desktop programs that work quite well, the bells and whistles you get from VNC for a rather small per-computer fee ($3.39) can be worth it if your needs extend beyond the mundane. Indeed, it’s the relatively low fee that won it the top spot over the similarly powerful GoToMyPC. VNC is versatile in that you can use clients or a web browser to connect for remote control and it supports all major (and some minor) operating systems. It also supports file transfers, chat, screen recording, and end-to-end encryption. There’s also support available should you need help.
All remote desktop software works the same way. It captures input from your computer, transfers it to the target computer, which returns information about the results, including the state of the user interface—i.e., you can see the remote desktop. The protocols involved include RDS/RDP for Windows, Chromoting for Chrome Remote Desktop, VNC/RFB for VNC, etc. The names vary, as do their origins, but the all work as described.
Which remote desktop program you choose generally comes down to which operating systems and devices you’re using, how much you’ll be using it, price, and features.
Operating system/device support: The remote desktop software you choose needs to have clients (for controlling) and servers (for being controlled) for all the computers or devices you want to employ. E.g., if you want to control a Windows PC from an iPhone, there needs to be a sever for the PC and a client for iOS.
Ease of installation and use: If you’re dealing with less-savvy users on the other end of the connection, never underestimate the value of intuitive and easy. If you haven’t already installed the software on the remote machine, it can be a daunting task for the helpee. Reviews or a hands-on test drive can let you know how trouble-free the process will be.
Price: Some solutions are free, some require a license fee. The latter tend to have more features and encompass a wider variety of platforms, though this is not an absolute. Tech support is generally only available if you pay for it, as well. We suggest that end users start off free, and if it’s not getting the job done, explore the pay options.
Features: Capabilities such as chat, file transfer, portal-based setup (avoiding router and network hassles), support for computers running multiple displays, etc. are obviously factors if you need them. Again, start off free and see how it goes, then spend the money according the dictates of your needs.
How we test remote desktop software
We test all the software both over a local network and the internet. Virtual machines on both the local and remote computers are employed to test alternate operating systems such as Linux. If mobile clients are available, we test them on a Google Pixel 4 (Android) and an Apple iPad (iOS). We control the remote machine, transfer files, check out the chat function and any other features that are available.
A very important criteria is speed, i.e., how nimble the remote operating system feels, and how fast files transfer. With the increased speed and bandwidth most users have access to today, remote internet performance isn’t the issue it was back in the days of dial-up, DSL, etc. That said, there can be noticeable differences.
Remote-desktop software such as TeamViewer will establish a connection using the company’s web portal, then gets out of the way to allow traffic to flow directly from machine to machine. Others such as GoToMyPC route all traffic through their portal. This has some advantages if you’re using a web browser to view the remote PC, but can slow things down otherwise—especially on local network connections. Windows Remote Desktop Connection and Apple Remote Desktop are peer-to-peer by nature. This allows good performance both locally and across the internet, but requires configuring firewalls and routers for the latter.
The other major consideration we evaluate is how intuitive and easy the software is to set up and use. In most cases, we use less tech-savvy family and friends as guinea pigs. Sorry, folks!
Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read ouraffiliate link policyfor more details.
One of the most irritating (and slightly painful) parts of joining a Microsoft Teams call could soon be fixed by a new update.
The video conferencing service is a popular choice for many companies, meaning calls with large numbers of participants joining at the same time, and from the same location (such as a meeting room) are a common occurrence.
However, often when multiple people join a meeting in the same room, a feedback loop is created, which causes echo, which in most cases quickly escalates to howling – with Microsoft likening the noise to when a musician holds the mic too close to a loudspeaker.
Fortunately, a new fix is coming for Microsoft Teams users. In its entry in the official Microsoft 365 roadmap (opens in new tab), the new “Ultrasound Howling Detection” describes how it aims to prevent this noise for users on Windows and Mac across the world.
Microsoft says that the update should mean if multiple users on laptops join from the same location, it will share with the user that another Teams Device is detected in their vicinity and is already joined with audio to the current meeting.
If a user has already joined with their audio on, Microsoft Teams will automatically mute the mic and speakers of any new the person who then joins the call, hopefully putting an end to the howling and screeching feedback.
Thankfully, the update is already listed as being in development, with an expected general availability date of March 2023, so users shouldn’t have to wait too long to enjoy.
The new updates are the result of using a machine learning model trained on 30,000 hours of speech samples, and include echo cancellation, better adjusting audio in poor acoustic environments, and allowing users to speak and hear at the same time without interruptions.
Sign up to theTechRadar Pro newsletter to get all the top news, opinion, features and guidance your business needs to succeed!
Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK’s leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he’s not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods lands in theaters on March 17. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)
The final trailer for Shazam! Fury of the Gods has debuted online – and it looks even more charming, funnier, frenetic, and darker than its predecessor.
Shazam’s sequel flick arrives in theaters worldwide on March 17, so it’s about time we were given another look at the forthcoming DC Extended Universe movie (read our DC movies in order guide to find out where it’ll fit in that timeline). Luckily, Warner Bros. has duly obliged. Check it out below:
Okay, there’s some messy CGI and a slightly corny vibe about Shazam 2. But hey, the first problem can be ironed out before the superhero film takes flight, while the latter is part of what makes this movie series spellbinding (see what we did there?).
But we digress – you’re here because you want to find out what you missed from Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ new trailer. Below, we’ve pointed out six things you might have overlooked. So, what are you waiting for? Shout “Shazam!” and let’s dive in.
1. Who are the Daughters of Atlas?
For a film centered around Shazam, we don’t actually see the titular superhero appear in the official trailer for the first 20 seconds.
Instead, we get another glimpse at Fury of the Gods‘ villains, aka the Daughters of Atlas. The powerful trio comprises the power-hungry Hespera (Helen Millen), dragon-riding Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Athena (Rachel Zegler), the latter of whom seems particularly torn about how the sisters are going about their business.
So, why are they gunning for Shazam and his superpowered foster siblings? Essentially, when Billy Batson was gifted his abilities by Djimon Hounsou’s wizard in the film film (available now on HBO Max), one of those powers was the Stamina of Atlas. The Daughters of Atlas aren’t too happy about their father’s ability being passed down to a child, so they want to take back what is theirs – and they’ll do it so by any means necessary.
2. Mythological monsters
Shazam’s first DCEU outing featured some horror-imbued creatures in the form of the Seven Deadly Sins. How, then, do you go about topping (or, at the very least) matching what came before? Throw in a bunch of myth-based monsters, of course.
Kalypso’s imposing dragon is the most notable inclusion. It feature prominently throughout the trailer, and we even get an amusing Game of Thrones reference from Shazam – “Hey, Khaleesi!” – in the movie. Hey, Warner Bros. loves to mention its suite of IPs in as many of its films as possible.
But Kalypso’s wyvern isn’t the only fairy-tale-based beast we see. Minotaurs, griffons, and demonic unicorns are just three of the other monsters who’ll turn up in Fury of the Gods. Basically, don’t expect this to be an easy fight for Shazam and company to save the world.
3. You can’t get the staff these days
Saving earth from a new titanic threat will be even harder when Shazam’s adoptive family are stripped of their powers, too. And it seems that the staff, which was wielded by Hounsou’s wizard in the first movie, is the key to giving and taking those abilities away.
In 2019’s Shazam!, the titular hero gave powers to his foster siblings to help him combat the Seven Deadly Sins and Doctor Sivana. They’ve still got those power in Fury of the Gods, too, but they won’t have them for long, based by what the trailer suggests.
The footage shows Freddy Freeman and Mary Bromfield being drained of their abilities by the Daughters of Atlas at various points. The trio are using the wizard’s staff to rob the teens of their powers, so it’s clearly of major importance to the movie’s main players.
Later, we see Shazam wielding it – not before he asks the wizard to take his powers back, mind you, when he becomes convinced he can’t defeat the Daughters of Atlas. Anyway, Shazam’s brandishing of the staff suggests he needs it to boost his own abilities if he’s going to defeat the movie’s antagonists and give his siblings their powers back. Expect the staff to play a vital role in Fury of the Gods‘ plot, then.
4. Prison break
In order to get the wizard’s staff, it seems the Daughters of Atlas go after Hounsou’s magic wielder to obtain it.
We see Hounsou’s character imprisoned at various points, including a shot of Hespera chastising him for giving the power of the gods to Billy, Freddy, and company. “You ripped it from our father’s core,” she tells him, which implies Hounsou’s wizard might not be as mighty and heroic as we were led to believe.
Anyway, Hounsou’s wizard interacts with Shazam later in the trailer, so he clearly escapes captivity. Whether he does so alone, or he enlists Shazam’s help – does that magic-infused dust, which he sends through his prison cell window, have something to do with it? – is unclear. Regardless, we’ll see Hounsou’s character break out at some stage.
5. Is that you, Doctor Strange?
Remember when we said Zegler’s Athena doesn’t seem as keen to destroy earth as her sisters? That’s because, at the 1: 14 mark, we see her use her powers with a uncertain look on her face. You wouldn’t look like that if you were convinced you were doing the right thing, would you?
Based on the fact she’s pushed away by Kalypso (using the staff no less), seconds later, it seems she’ll be swapping sides at some stage.
Interestingly, it seems the wizard’s staff can do more than give or take a person’s powers away. One perceived ability certainly has an air of the Doctor Strange/Marvel-based mystic arts about them. Just look at the Escher-style nature of how the scenery bends and folds in on itself when Athena is pushed back, and when Shazam evades numerous buildings at the 1: 44 mark. We’d be very surprised if DC and Warner Bros. didn’t take a leaf out of the MCU’s book with such an aesthetic.
6. Light the way
Shazam and his fellow superheroes get a costume upgrade in Fury of the Gods. The group’s threads are more streamlined and less plastic-looking this time around, which is pleasing to see.
Fans had been worried, though, that these suits wouldn’t feature one of the first movie’s most underrated (if somewhat tacky) aspects: the glowing lightning bolt on Shazam’s chest. Shazam’s costume in the 2019 movie was manufactured in a way that allowed the bolt to physically light up, avoiding the problem of having to add awkward lighting effects during the post-production phase.
Thankfully, Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ official trailer confirms that Shazam’s lightning bolt will glow. However, given the sleeker look of the costumes this time around, it appears that the illumination effect has been added in post. Regardless of how it’s been implemented, we’re just glad it’s a feature that’s been retained.
Sign up to get breaking news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more, plus the hottest tech deals!
As TechRadar’s entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You’ll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.
An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot (opens in new tab).
Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.
Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.
Jokes aside about Chrome’s incognito mode, the ability to open a private tab for sensitive browsing is incredibly useful. You can perform searches that you want to keep from affecting your recommendations or appearing in your search history—which applies as much to tax information and medical questions as anything more scintillating.
And now on all phones and tablets, you can protect your incognito tabs from prying eyes by locking them down. A quick tweak to Chrome settings on iOS and Android makes biometric or PIN authentication required to view your private tabs whenever you leave the app and then return. It’s an extra layer of protection for when you forget to close a tab when you’re done—easy to do if you’re constantly hopping between apps. No need to worry about banking info sitting unguarded, for example.
Trying to feature out for yourself is easy. If it’s rolled out to your Android device (or if you’re only now trying it on your iPhone or iPad), just tap on the three dot menu in Chrome, then Privacy and Security. Toggle on Lock Incognito Tabs When You Close Chrome. Now when you switch away from Chrome and then come back, you’ll have to pass an authentication check before you can see and interact with those private tabs again.
For folks who use incognito tabs more on mobile than dedicated apps, this feature is a very welcome addition—and one I hope to see come to desktop computers next. I leave my incognito windows open on PC for long stretches way more often than on a phone or tablet. I haven’t yet met a browser window stuffed with tabs that I didn’t like to keep around. And sometimes I’m reading up on something I don’t want roommates to know about; other times, I have private correspondence I’m working on that I really don’t want to be seen.
I can always lock my PC, but I occasionally forget to slam my fingers on Win + L before dashing off to deal with an overflowing pot or vomiting cat. The best alternative is setting up Dynamic Lock in Windows, but that only works if you move far enough away from your computer to trigger the auto-lock. It unfortunately doesn’t prevent someone also in your kitchen from wandering by your screen and teasing you about your recent discovery of r/illegallysmolcats. Ask me how I know.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.