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Best free remote desktop software in 2022

Unknown person typing on a computer.
(Image credit: StartupStockPhotos, pixabay)

With the best free remote desktop software (opens in new tab), you can remotely access computers and other devices from your own device. Remote access technology has the potential to streamline your business in various ways. 

For starters, remote desktop (opens in new tab) programs enable you to provide or receive technical support from the comfort of your office. You could also use them to access office computers from your personal device, enabling you to work comfortably from home. 

There are numerous premium remote desktop programs (opens in new tab) on the market offering high-end, sophisticated features and tools for a monthly or annual rate, but reliable free remote desktop programs are hard to come by. To aid your search, we’ve put together a list of the best free remote desktop software solutions available today.

The 3 best free remote desktop software solutions

Zoho Assist: top free remote desktop platform (opens in new tab)
Zoho Assist's free plan offers top tools including built-in live chat, multi-device connectivity, multi-monitor support, and more. A 15-day free trial gives you access to the premium plans, which start at $8 a month and offer advanced, leading features for remote assistance.

AnyDesk: excellent free plan for personal users (opens in new tab)
AnyDesk's top free-forever plan provides one user with access to excellent remote desktop tools, via end-to-end encryption, such as remote printing and mobile and desktop OS use. Its premium plans start from $9.90 a month, and add a wide range of advanced features.

Microsoft Remote Desktop: free remote access (opens in new tab)
If you've got a Windows PC, Microsoft Remote Desktop is included for free, and offers built-in functionalities such as remote file access, mobile apps, and much more. While it's got a learning curve, it offers simple and immediate remote access for Windows users.

What are the best free remote desktop programs?

The best overall free remote desktop program is Zoho Assist, which has a variety of advanced tools and is backed by the rest of the Zoho ecosystem of productivity software tools and platforms.

AnyDesk is known for its powerful premium solutions, but its free plan is certainly worth using as well. TightVNC is a reliable provider that has been around for more than 20 years, while Microsoft Remote Desktop is an advanced option, and it comes pre-installed on most modern Windows computers. 

In turn, Chrome Remote Desktop offers a browser extension that can be used with a variety of operating systems. It’s super easy to use, and boasts decent security and streamlined performance. 

The best free remote desktop services, compared
Remote desktop servicePlatform(s)Maximum usersEncryption
Zoho AssistWindows, Mac, iOS, AndroidOne256-bit AES encryption
AnyDeskWindows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOSOneEnd-to-end 256-bit encryption
Microsoft Remote Desktop (opens in new tab)WindowsVariesSSL
TightVNCWindows, LinuxNo limitNone
Chrome Remote DesktopWindows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOSOne256-bit AES encryption

The best free remote desktop software available today

Zoho Assist logo

(Image credit: Zoho Assist)
An excellent option for providing remote support

Specifications

Platform(s): Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Max users: One
Encryption: 256-bit AES encryption

Reasons to buy

+
Integrated with the rest of the Zoho ecosystem
+
Live chat and clipboard sharing tools
+
Great cross-platform compatibility

Reasons to avoid

-
No file-sharing tools
-
Only one user is supported

Zoho Assist is better known for its premium team remote desktop solutions, but its free plan has plenty to bring to the table. It only supports one user, but it enables you to connect to a variety of different devices. There’s a built-in live chat tool, but no file-sharing tools. 

One thing that stands out about Zoho Assist is its excellent multi-monitor support. There’s also a 15-day free trial for the more advanced subscriptions, which you might like to consider if you need more tools than the free plan offers.

Read our full Zoho Assist review (opens in new tab).

AnyDesk logo

(Image credit: AnyDesk)
An excellent option for security-conscious users

Specifications

Platform(s): Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS
Max users: One
Encryption: End-to-end AES 256-bit encryption

Reasons to buy

+
Can be used on various desktop and mobile operating systems
+
Unattended access and remote printing available
+
Advanced security tools

Reasons to avoid

-
A little complex for beginners
-
Not useful for teams

AnyDesk (opens in new tab) is another popular premium remote desktop software provider with an excellent free-forever plan. This is only available for personal use, but it’s certainly an option worth considering. 

Known for its excellent security, which includes end-to-end encryption, AnyDesk also offers a range of various advanced tools, including a remote printing module, and you can access unattended computers with a password. It’s also available on a suite of mobile and desktop operating systems. 

On the downside, AnyDesk is a little complicated to get started with. You will have to upgrade to a premium plan if you need to use it in a professional setting or with more than one user.

Read our full AnyDesk review (opens in new tab).

Microsoft Remote Desktop logo

(Image credit: Microsoft)
A built-in remote desktop solution

Specifications

Platform(s): Windows
Max users: Varies
Encryption: SSL

Reasons to buy

+
Comes pre-installed with most Windows computers
+
Streamlined file transfer tools
+
Provides smooth remote desktop access

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be a little confusing to set up
-
Can’t be used with all Windows computers

All modern Windows computers come with built-in remote desktop access tools via the RDP (opens in new tab) protocol. These can be used by someone else from a remote location who may need access to your computer. 

All things considered, Microsoft Remote Desktop is excellent. It comes with a range of features, including remote file access and mobile apps. However, it can be difficult to use, and you will need at least some tech experience to get the most out of it. 

For example, you will often have to set custom firewall rules before remote access is possible. You may have to forward specific ports on your router, which isn’t difficult but may scare off some beginners.

Read our detailed Microsoft Remote Desktop review (opens in new tab).

TightVNC logo

(Image credit: TightVNC)
Best for Linux users

Specifications

Platform(s): Windows, Linux
Max users: No limit
Encryption: None

Reasons to buy

+
Free, open-source program
+
Excellent documentation
+
Supports multi-platform environments

Reasons to avoid

-
No built-in encryption or other security features
-
May require router port forwarding

TightVNC has been delivering reliable remote desktop solutions for more than 20 years. It uses the virtual network computing (VNC (opens in new tab)) protocol to enable streamlined remote access, and it’s completely free for anyone to use. 

The platform is known for the small amount of bandwidth it uses. This generally leads to excellent screen share quality and performance. On the downside, encryption is completely absent, and your remote access sessions may be vulnerable to attack. A little technical expertise is required to get started, and you may have to perform actions like router port forwarding. 

However, TightVNC’s Linux compatibility makes it an excellent option among providers of the best remote desktop for Linux (opens in new tab), and worth considering. And the poor security can be overcome by simply using it in conjunction with one of the best VPN services (opens in new tab).

Read our full TightVNC review (opens in new tab).

Chrome Remote Desktop logo

(Image credit: Google)

Chrome Remote Desktop

Best overall free remote desktop software

Specifications

Platform(s): Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
Max concurrent users: One
Encryption: 256-bit AES encryption

Reasons to buy

+
Great cross-platform compatibility
+
Very easy to set up and use
+
Streamlined performance with excellent quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks advanced features
-
Can only be used with Chrome

Chrome Remote Desktop (opens in new tab) is an extremely popular free remote desktop program. It’s fast and convenient, and it’s compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS devices. In terms of how to set up Chrome Remote Desktop (opens in new tab), it comes as a simple Chrome extension, and even those with little tech experience should find using it a breeze. 

On the downside, Chrome Remote Desktop lacks numerous advanced features. For example, you can’t use it for remote printing, and there are no file transfer tools. There’s also no live chat, which makes it an inconvenient option for those providing tech assistance. 

Nonetheless, we’d recommend considering Chrome Remote Desktop if you’re looking for a simple program to access a variety of devices.


How to choose the best free remote desktop software for you

Most free remote desktop platforms are relatively simple and, therefore, similar. However, there are still a few factors you need to keep in mind when making your selection. For example, not all free software supports multiple users. If this is something you need, platforms like TightVNC and Microsoft Remote Desktop are worth considering. 

Another important consideration is security, which AnyDesk does well. You will also need to ensure that the programs you’re looking for are compatible with the operating system(s) you’re going to be using

But above all, remember that these are free programs. They aren’t going to be fancy, and the best advice we can give is to select a few potential options and give them a try—you’ve got nothing to lose.


Further reading on remote desktops

If you're interested in finding out more about remote desktop technology and platforms, we've got a wide range of content available for your reference. Learn more about XRDP (opens in new tab) and what TeamViewer offers (opens in new tab); find out how to use Microsoft Remote Desktop (opens in new tab) and how to use remote desktop on Windows 10 (opens in new tab).

For Apple and cross-platform users, discover how to use remote desktop on Mac (opens in new tab) and how to remote desktop from Mac to Windows (opens in new tab); if you're a Linux user, learn how to remote desktop into Ubuntu (opens in new tab). We've also reviewed leading premium remote desktops, including ConnectWise Control (opens in new tab), RemotePC (opens in new tab), and TeamViewer (opens in new tab).

Daniel is a freelance copywriter with over six years experience writing for publications such as TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, and Hosting Review. He specializes in tech and finance, with a particular focus on website building, web hosting, and related fields.