The best remote desktop software tools allow for simpler and more convenient administration of computers and devices across a business, as well as offering remote support to customers.
With remote desktop software, IT support no longer has to be physically on site to deal with internal support issues, access data stored on local remote hard drives, or perform software upgrades. All of this not only saves time and costs, but also helps increase the agility of a given business.
For years, many leading platforms have been available, with desktop access available across platforms and operating systems. As a result, hundreds of solutions are out there to choose from. A key consideration for businesses is security, which is important to keep in mind when choosing a remote access platform. As with selecting one of the best password managers, the remote desktop solution chosen will be influenced by ongoing costs as well as the devices it needs to support.
When it comes to the best IT management tools you must deploy within your business, remote desktop solutions are up there with the most integral. Keep reading to discover the best remote desktop software available right now.
Today's best remote desktop software deals
Remote access for 10 Windows PCs or Macs for only $2.98
Ever thought of remote desktop as an alternative to VD/DAAS? With RemotePC you can connect to your work or office computer from anywhere using secure remote access. Transfer files and folders, even from mapped drives, between your computers.
Zoho Assist from just $8 a month
Zoho Assist provides specialized remote support and access plans designed to streamline workflow. Support plans start at $8 a month, and include features such as remote printing and custom branding, great for support technicians and IT managers.
How much does the best remote desktop software cost?
Remote desktop software platforms range in cost from completely free up to hundreds of dollars a month or year. Prices depend on how many users are required, and the tools and features desired. If many adminstrators are needed on the system at once, you'll pay more.
Some platforms charge on a per user basis, while others charge per device: the former is ideal for a small team with a lot of devices, while the latter is perfect for many users to access a few machines. If on a budget, the best free remote desktop software can provide remote access, though at the expense of top-level security or multi-device connections.
What are the best remote desktop software solutions?
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to remote desktop software, and the right solution depends greatly on your requirements.
Our top pick overall is TeamViewer, which works best when you’re connecting between different platforms, offering great real-time chat, though it’s generally more expensive for small teams. Remote PC is the most affordable premium option, offering ease-of-use and top additional extras on high-end plans.
Other top choices include Zoho Assist and Splashtop, which respectively offer leading web-based services and the best multi-monitor support available. If you need a real powerhouse—for a multi-user team of agents supporting multiple customers’ machines—ConnectWise Control has a steeper learning curve and a more involved installation process, but includes integrations with third-party software to automate many customer service and technical support duties.
AnyDesk offers the best all-round service thanks to cross-platform compatibility and a raft of recording and remote options added to leading security. VNC Connect provides excellent VNC-based access aimed at SMBs, and if you need a simple, free solution, Microsoft Remote Desktop or TightVNC are relatively basic tools, lacking good security, but able to do the job in a pinch.
|Remote desktop platform||Protocol||Platform(s)||Single user cost||Teams cost|
|TeamViewer||Proprietary||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, ChromeOS, Linux||$50.90 a month||$102.90 a month (for 15 users)|
|RemotePC||RDP||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux||$3.29 a month||$24.96 a month|
|Zoho Assist||Proprietary||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android||Free||From $12 a month per user|
|Splashtop Business||Proprietary||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, ChromeOS||$5 a month||From $6.19 a month per user|
|ConnectWise Control||Proprietary||Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, Linux||$29 a month||From $29 a month per user|
|AnyDesk||Proprietary||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, ChromeOS, Raspberry Pi||$9.99 a month||$19.90 a month|
|VNC Connect||RFB (VNC)||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Raspberry Pi||$3.39 a month per device||$3.39 a month per device|
|Microsoft Remote Desktop||RDP||Windows||Free||Free|
|TightVNC||RFB (VNC)||Windows, Linux||Free||Free|
The best remote desktop software you can buy today
TeamViewer is another remote desktop solution that has become popular thanks to its unlimited free plan for personal use. TeamViewer often flags heavy users on the free plan as professional users, though, requiring the purchase of a relatively-expensive plan instead.
It offers cross-platform access, meaning you can access your PC from your mobile or vice-versa, and ranks highly among those offering the best remote desktop for Linux due to this. You can access unattended computers, share your iOS screen, print remotely, and transfer files between devices.
TeamViewer uses end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption, 2FA, and block/allow lists, which should make the software highly secure.
Read our full TeamViewer review.
RemotePC is one of the most affordable remote desktops available, but low prices don't mean low performance, as it's full of top tools. From IDrive, the best cloud storage provider, RemotePC enables unattended and attended access across multiple devices, with easy set-up in just minutes requiring no technical knowhow.
Leading features include HelpDesk customer support and Meeting video conferencing software (on high-end plans); built-in live chat boxes; an integrated whiteboard; and cross-platform compatibility with Windows, Mac, and Linux, alongside mobile apps for Android and iOS.
Across five plans ranging from $39.50 to $599.50 a year, a 25% discount is available with your first subscription term, though there are only annual and biannual subscriptions available. There’s a seven-day free trial available on business plans, however.
If there's a downside, it's that it lacks features that would suit large businesses, but otherwise it's ideal for those seeking simple, cheap remote desktop software.
Read our full RemotePC review.
Zoho Assist is a comprehensive remote support tool for assisting customers or accessing your unattended computers remotely. Useful features include the ability to send and receive large files, live chat with the remote user, and schedule remote support sessions for times that are convenient for your customers.
It now has multi-monitor support and the ability to have a voice or video chat with the remote user. You can record sessions, reboot the remote computer, and perform diagnostics with the built-in tools. Screens can be shared and you can draw shapes on the remote desktop screen.
Having said all this, many of the best features, like video chat and session recording, are reserved for the most expensive $24 per user a month plan. It pays to take advantage of the 15-day free trial to work out which of the five plans are best for your needs.
Read our comprehensive Zoho Assist review.
Splashtop Business is an easy-to-use remote desktop tool with support for HD video. It’s particularly simple to set up yet still has 256-bit encryption and good multi-monitor support, making it a strong choice for small businesses without a dedicated IT team to support their hybrid workforce remotely.
It integrates with many popular CRM products including Zendesk and Freshdesk. It’s hosted on Amazon Web Services, which has excellent data encryption and DDoS mitigation.
Pricing for individuals and small teams is on an annual basis only, which may put off some users, but a free trial is available. Some features, such as group-based access permission and Active Directory support, are reserved for the priciest Enterprise plan, but the $8.25 per user a month Pro plan generously includes multimonitor support, chat, session recording, remote wake, and the ability for two users to concurrently remote into the same computer.
Read our detailed Splashtop Business review.
ConnectWise Control is a self-hosted server for connecting to multiple remote devices. It’s the most powerful tool on our list, with features that benefit businesses that need to administer a large number of remote devices or offer remote support to their customers. The long feature list does make the learning curve for ConnectWise much steeper than the other options on our list, though.
It works with all modern operating systems including mobile devices. Through its extension marketplace, you can integrate ConnectWise with over 100 third-party tools including Microsoft Outlook and Zendesk.
Another thing we like is ConnectWise’s strong security. It not only uses 256-bit AES encryption but also offers granulated role-based security, so you can lock down the features remote users can access for better overall security.
Read our full ConnectWise Control review.
AnyDesk is a proprietary remote desktop application that’s free for personal use. Starting at $9.90 a month for professional use, it’s one of the more affordable remote access software solutions for businesses. The $19.90 a month plan allows for a single session that can connect to an unlimited number of devices.
It can be installed on Windows, Linux, and macOS computers. It has mobile client apps, too, so you can access your computers on the go. It supports the transmission of audio and video, remote printing, screen recording, and an on-screen whiteboard.
AnyDesk has a built-in VPN, and every connection is secured with AES-256 encryption. Even if a direct connection can’t be made from the client to the remote computer, the session is end-to-end encrypted. AnyDesk is therefore one of the most secure and versatile remote desktop tools available today for office administrators and IT support.
Read our full AnyDesk review.
VNC Connect is a remote access solution that uses VNC as its basis, but it fixes some of VNC’s limitations. Most importantly, it includes 256-bit AES session encryption, multi-factor authentication, and granular access control, making it much more secure out of the box.
The software can be used to connect directly to remote computers or indirectly through cloud connectivity. It’s flexible enough to be used for attended or unattended access and can work as a pre-installed tool or connect-on-demand for customer support duties.
VNC Connect’s pricing is on a per-device basis, so for $3.39 per device a month, an unlimited number of users can concurrently connect to a single device. This makes the pricing very appealing if you have a large team that only needs to access a few devices. An alternative pricing model for helpdesk teams starts at $16.99 per technician a month.
It loses marks for sometimes having graphical or audio issues when connecting to a remote computer. Setting up VNC Connect can also be challenging if you don’t have physical access to the remote machine.
Read our detailed VNC Connect review.
Ever since the release of Windows XP, most versions of Windows have included the ability to remote access via RDP (remote desktop protocol). This enables you to remotely access a Windows computer from Microsoft Remote Desktop clients, which are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
While using Microsoft Remote Desktop can feel almost as if you’re sitting at the keyboard of the remote computer, it also has some downsides. Remotely accessing computers over the internet with Microsoft Remote Desktop usually requires specific ports to be forwarded on your router and firewall rules to be set.
It’s also not possible to connect to computers running a Home version of Windows, including Windows 10 Home.
Read our full Microsoft Remote Desktop review.
Developed in 1999, VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is a platform-independent remote desktop sharing system. There are VNC clients and servers for virtually every popular platform, making it one of the easiest ways to connect remotely in a multi-platform environment.
TightVNC is a free, open-source server and client for VNC that runs on Windows or Linux. It’s easy to install and uses little bandwidth, making it a good choice for slow internet connections.
However, its simplicity comes at a cost. There’s no built-in encryption, so it’s quite insecure when not paired with other solutions like a top business VPN. Remote access across the internet will typically require ports to be forwarded in your router settings. And there’s little support for the software.
Because of these downsides, we only recommend the use of TightVNC for small-scale remote access tasks such as connecting to a computer over the office LAN.
Read our full TightVNC review.
Remote desktop software FAQs
Looking to find out more about the best remote desktop software, and what these platforms do? Let us help you understand the benefits, how to choose remote desktop software, and see how we review and test the different platforms.
What is a remote desktop?
Remote desktop services allow users to share a desktop environment between one machine and another over the internet. They enable a technical support worker to log in from their own machine into a colleague or customer's machine, and access all local resources, including storage, apps, desktop interfaces, and more.
Platforms are also used for educational and other purposes, and enable users to operate a remote machine as they would their own device. They can also be configured by administrators to only allow certain applications to be used or made visible.
Benefits of the best remote desktop software
Continuity and low maintenance
The speed and ease of remote desktop platforms means that workers and customers alike, as well as IT staff, can get back to work relatively quickly once a problem is solved, saving wasted time and potentially lost income. Platforms are also low-maintenance once installed.
Device compatibility and security
The very best remote desktop software solutions offer compatibility across operating systems and desktop and mobile devices. All that's required is internet access, and top platforms offer encryption, 2FA, and more security features to protect business devices from hacking.
How to choose the best remote desktop software for you
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for remote desktop deployment, as every business has unique requirements.
The first consideration is security. Microsoft Remote Desktop, for example, is a free remote desktop solution you can find pre-installed on most Windows computers, but the built-in security is relatively weak. It’s recommended to pair the use of Remote Desktop with one of the top business VPN providers, but this can make deploying the solution across your enterprise more challenging. This is also the case for VNC-based solutions like TightVNC.
Another concern is a given service provider’s product licensing policy. Remote software tools like AnyDesk charge on a per-user basis, whereas others like VNC Connect charge on a per-computer basis. If you have a small team with a large number of computers, a per-user pricing model is likely to be cheaper for you in the long run. On the other hand, if you want a lot of people to be able to remotely access just a few computers, a per-computer pricing model is typically preferable.
Deployment and maintenance costs should play a factor in your choice. Self-hosted options like TightVNC may have lower installation costs than cloud-based software solutions, but they can require you to spend more time and money in the long run when your business network infrastructure changes and grows.
How we review the best remote desktop software
When we review remote desktop platforms, we ensure that we test each platform comprehensively by downloading it onto a Windows machine, specifying in each review which type of device and what version. Then, we explore its functionality by connecting to other devices.
We'll look at the latency for each platform when it comes to operating a machine remotely. We evaluate each on its features, integrations, usability, reliability, security, and any additional tools.
Next steps with remote desktops
We've also compiled walkthrough guides on how to use Microsoft Remote Desktop and how to use remote desktop on Windows 10. For Apple, cross-platform, Chromebook, and Linux users, we've outlined how to use remote desktop on Mac, how to remote desktop from Mac to Windows, how to set up Chrome Remote Desktop, and how to remote desktop into Ubuntu.
Should you be interested in TeamViewer, but want to see similar options before sign-up, check out the best TeamViewer alternatives.
Other areas of business technology interact with remote desktop software. The best VPN services protect your remote connections; essential work-from-home apps make your employees' working lives easier; and equipping and empowering a secure remote workforce via cybersecurity in remote working keeps everyone safe.