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Buyer's Guide
Remote Access
June 2022
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Steve Schick - PeerSpot reviewer
Technology and Logistics Director at a media company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Multifeatured remote access software which offers security, stability, and easy scalability
Pros and Cons
  • "Offers more security than TeamViewer, Google Remote Desktop, and Zoom. It's a stable, feature-rich solution that's easy to set up and easy to scale."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use ConnectWise Control as a great remote access tool.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The primary support or the remote access support is really what we use ConnectWise Control for, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

    Even people outside of the organization would benefit from this. We do push out the agents, but if somebody, for whatever reason, like our board of trustees, don't have the agent on their computer, we can create a support session so they can just join via a web browser and we can support them in the same manner. It's very handy. It's very beneficial.

    It also has the ability to have online meetings, like a WebEx scenario.

    I haven't really played around with it too much, but what they refer to, what ConnectWise calls the unattended access, I would say is easily 80% to 90% of what we've used here and in previous lives, so it's really great.

    This solution is very feature rich. It has a Wake-on-LAN ability.

    You can also run commands against the machines, e.g. for old guys like me who prefer that instead of the fancy GUIs. It's similar to a DOS window where you can run different types of commands against it.

    It does come in handy if you just want to do something in the background, e.g. schedule reboots, and you don't want to become too invasive to what the user's doing. Especially in our situation, a lot of times they're teaching a class and it's like: "Ugh. We don't want this to pop up." They've got their laptops connected to an interactive display most of the time, so they don't need to see what's going on in the background. It's pretty awesome.

    I also like the fact that it does do an audit, so you can see who's connected to the machine. If somebody, every once in a while, and this isn't exclusive to ConnectWise Control, we'll get a call saying: "Hey. Something's not right with my machine. The mouse is moving on its own...", and we take a look, and sure enough: One of the support agents has taken control.

    That's the draw back of any type of unattended access: They can just do that, so I've always put in a policy saying: "Hey. You need to make sure that you have the user's permission before connecting to their machine just so: A. You don't freak them out, and B. They know what you're doing." The audit trail on that is very good. It can show that.

    The other nice thing is it has a two-way instant messaging feature built in, so if you're trying to communicate with somebody who maybe doesn't have a phone or whatever the case may be, you can type messages back and forth. This is a nice feature too.

    The ability to block guest input is really good. If you are connected to somebody's machine and you're working on it, e.g. you're just on your screen Googling something and then they take the mouse and start moving it around, and you'll have to tell them: "No, don't do that. Don't close that."

    You can block them from having control, so you're not fighting over control, e.g. mouse control. Another example is if you have the need to enter a password with additional access, e.g. an admin password, you can blank out their monitor so they can't see what you're typing. That's very, very handy because you don't want the end user to be able to get that password, and if you mistakenly type it in the username field, it will be in plain text. It'll be there until you do your password change.

    What is most valuable?

    We actually have this solution set up quite slick where there's different modes for it. We use what they call unattended mode, so the way it works is it pushes out the agent to all the Windows-based machines. They're in a "by school" type of thing in our example, but you can do it by department or groups, or by custom groups. We have full control over the machines. You can do whatever you need to do as if the machine was right in front of you.

    One of the other features that is very, very strong in ConnectWise Control is the shared toolbox. It gives you the ability to have certain applications that you can't push out to machines for some reason, e.g. you can't use a GPO (Group Policy Object) because they're not on the domain, or because they're just totally remote. You can push out a portable support tool through the toolbox, for example: if you want to do a disk cleanup because you're getting a low disk space warning. There's hundreds of examples I could share with you. The shared toolbox feature of this solution is very popular.

    I've been here two and a half years now, and previously I was in a managed service provider. We used this solution per instance, per client and it's just been enormously powerful for that. You can set up the remote access and get pretty granular as far as permissions go, but it's just been a fantastic tool and I would highly recommend it to anybody.

    When I first looked at this solution, one of the things that I thought was incredible that they've given a lot of thought to, is the ability to reboot machines and not lose connection to it. That's something that some of the competitor products could not do: When you rebooted the machine, you literally lost sight of it. If it came back up, great. If not, then you'll be in a bad situation.

    ConnectWise Control has two options for that. You can reboot to normal mode or to safe mode, which has been pretty handy from time to time when you need to get into safe mode in case there's a potentially corrupt operating system. I use that not very often, but just knowing that it's there when it is needed has been really good.

    I did mention the toolbox which is really good.

    The granular groups is also good because for a managed service provider, to be able to just really get that down, e.g. you don't want to give full access to everybody, it's just fantastic with that.

    What needs improvement?

    From my standpoint, I'm quite happy with this solution. There's nothing more I would want to do with it for improvement.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've been using it for 10 years now.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I find ConnectWise Control to be a stable product. It's very, very rare for bugs, glitches, or performance issues to occur. No software is absolutely perfect, but every once in a while you'll just see something, e.g. the service is unavailable. This happens just once a year, and it's very, very short lived. It's just a matter of getting coffee, coming back, then it's fine.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    This solution is absolutely easy to scale.

    We had almost 6,000 endpoints in one of the MSPs that I worked for, and I didn't find any issues with that at all.

    Right now, we're hovering around 1,000 endpoints, with no issues.

    In the larger MSP that I worked for, my remote team consisted of 20+ individuals, and this product went through the paces, but I've never heard anybody say, "Hey, you know what? This is just too slow. I'm going to wait until somebody's off to continue because it's unusable."

    How are customer service and support?

    The only time I've ever had to contact tech support is to purchase additional licenses, and they would just send me over to the sales department.

    Now I don't even have to do that because they have a self-serve portal. If you do have to contact support, you can do that right on the main screen.

    If I remember correctly, they have a chat feature too, so it's not like you have to wait in queue for an agent. There's somebody there to at least chat with. With a company the size of ConnectWise, I would expect them to have very strong support.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    There was a time when we were using Google Remote Desktop. There were a lot of the things that I didn't like about it, particularly the security it provides.

    ConnectWise is a lot more secure than TeamViewer, Zoom, and Google Remote Desktop, especially in schools which has been a known area where malicious activity has occurred. I just don't hear the same thing, nor have I experienced the same security risks from ConnectWise Control.

    There were definitely features I found in this solution, e.g. the ability to reboot in safe mode which aren't available in the previous tools that we had in place.

    ScreenConnect or ConnectWise Control as it's known today has been my go-to solution for the last decade. The other products we used previously had a lot of performance issues.

    Talking about VNCs, they were not as usable at times. The VNC was such a poor technology. We tried different products, so it's not just one product that was an issue.

    TeamViewer was a solution I found really, really heavy. It needed a lot of resources. The juice just wasn't worth the squeeze. It was a lot of work and we really didn't benefit from it.

    When I was introduced to ScreenConnect or ConnectWise Control, it was almost too good to be true. We did a proof of concept for six to eight weeks on it, then we started switching over to it as our primary tool. Nothing was preventing us from doing that, not even the price, because it was totally reasonable, totally doable, and the rest was history. We never looked back.

    We also used LogMeIn in the past. It was a scaled down version, or it could have been another acquisition called join.me. There was some acquisition there, but I can't keep track of all these acquisitions. They were okay, but not feature-rich. LogMeIn and join.me suddenly had significant price increases, so they were almost pricing themselves off the market.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup is easy. With no exaggeration, from the time you sign up for your free trial to when your instance is created, it takes less than 10 minutes per person.

    It's just really a matter of how granular you want it to be, how many groups you have, and your group structure. I have fairly bad OCD, so I have subgroups on top of groups.

    If you just want to use it out of the box and deploy an agent, you'll have the machines checking in easily within 10 minutes, then you can just sort them from there if you want to.

    It is as simple as can be.

    What was our ROI?

    We saw a return on investment from using this solution.

    It's just really difficult to put a price tag on ROI because often times we deal with non-technical individuals who just get very frustrated and they can't exactly express themselves very well with what's happening. We get this feedback from them which is not uncommon: "It just doesn't work. I don't know what's going on. There's this message here."

    We help them with their concern and say: "Hey, can we just connect to your machine and take a look at what's going on, because it's a lot easier to visualize?" Just by not having to drive out to rural Alberta where there is a lot of snow, and we're up to about three feet of snow this year. It's not exactly easy to drive anywhere, so the ROI on this is easily less than a day, and that's really not an exaggeration. It's totally worth the money.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    ConnectWise Control is not an overly expensive tool.

    When I first bought it 10 years ago, I paid about $4,000 for a one-time license for unlimited connections. The price has gone up over the years, but the current pricing only costs us $35 a year for each license. We're a small team, so we're on a very, very basic plan and we've only got four licenses. Pricing for this solution is reasonable.

    I found the invoice for this solution and it's $840, so the $35 was actually per month. It's the per month charge. It's reasonable. If somebody uses it once a month, it more than paid for what we would've had to do for going out. Literally, the team's in there all the time. Not a day goes by that everybody hasn't used it.

    I don't recall any additional fees on top of the licensing cost. There are different licensing models and you get more features depending on the model.

    Because of our size, there's a free version that I use for my home, which is great. When you sign up, you get the free trial and all the bells and whistles. In a larger organization, whether in the public or private sector with multiple departments and a number of buildings, they may benefit from that. For the most part, I don't know if there's anything additional that you would really need. It's just bells and whistles.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    I was able to evaluate TeamViewer, Webex, Zoom, Google Remote Desktop, LogMeIn, and several different VNCs.

    What other advice do I have?

    This solution used to be called ScreenConnect, then ConnectWise bought them out four or five years ago. A little bit of background on the organization: We're a rural school division in Northern Alberta, so we have to cover a lot of geography. It's been apparent in the last couple years with COVID that going out and seeing machines just isn't the way to go like it was 10, 20 years ago.

    We're using this solution as SaaS (Software as a Service). I don't know if they're still offering it on-prem. I think that they went away from that. For some reason, that rings a bell.

    I'm trying to think of anything else that might be a room for improvement for this product. Something I really haven't played around with a whole lot is the PowerShell through this, but it might also just work through the commands section of it. I can't see that as something that's missing in the product. In all fairness, I haven't really done a lot with that as of late.

    Currently, we have six people using this product.

    The beauty of ConnectWise Control is we really don't have to do anything for maintenance. We only need to do a little bit of housekeeping, e.g. if we decommission a machine, we just remove the agent from there and it's gone.

    Any app-specific maintenance is done by ConnectWise, so we have zero responsibility for that. ConnectWise is always great about sending a planned maintenance message out, e.g.: "Between the hours of 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM, the service will be unavailable.", which is the perfect time. I've never had an issue where I've gone in and said: "Oh, they're still doing maintenance. Something must have gone wrong." This is a solid solution.

    Increasing usage of this product isn't out of the question, but not at this point in time. There are some features that are in there that we don't use today, but as far as the number of individuals, it's going to depend on whether my team grows or not. We don't have plans of increasing usage in the near future, but it's not a definite no.

    I would say to anybody who's even thinking about using this solution, is to definitely sign up for the free trial, even if you don't decide to go with it. The setup is so easy. You get 15 days to try it out and that's more than enough time to see exactly what you can do with it and if it's a good fit. I'd be surprised if somebody says: "No, I really don't like this." It's so intuitive. I've got non-technical individuals who just do app support, so they know that one application, and they don't know a lot about servers or computers, but they just absolutely love ConnectWise Control because it's so simple. They search for the machine, double click it, and they're in. That's not oversimplifying it at all. That's literally what they do.

    Definitely do the free trial and let it speak for itself.

    I'm rating this solution a 10 out of 10. It's easily a 10 out of 10, because even though there were some glitches and bugs, it's very rare. I can't even remember anything off the top of my head that was so significant that made me say: "I'm not liking this at all." I'm typically pretty hard on these products because there's so many of them out there, but we definitely have a choice.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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    Buyer's Guide
    Remote Access
    June 2022
    Get our free report covering OpenText, Citrix, TeamViewer, and other competitors of VNC Connect. Updated: June 2022.
    610,812 professionals have used our research since 2012.