Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Tech support using VNC WORKING!

Rehashing a prior post, since some expressed interest in my results:

I had a situation where Windows XP's Remote Assistance would have worked great, but the client was on an internal network with non-routable addresses, did not have access to do port forwarding, and all port requests from the outside were blocked by the ISP.

My thought was, could you send the client a VNC server that would do a reverse connection to my machine, so that it would work anywhere, as long as the ISP didn't block the ports going out from their network.

After some suggestions about running WinVNC doing reverse connections, I created an executable that will start the VNC server, and instruct it to start a connection to my IP address, where I could be listening for the connection.  I wrapped up all the files into a self-extracting zip that can be downloaded by clients.

It works like a charm!

The advantage is, I don't have to explain port forwarding, non-routable IP addresses, or anything else to a client who could care less about the intracacies of TCP/IP.  Yes, VNC is slower than other methods, but 98% of my clients have broadband, so that is a non-issue for me.

I will provide the source (VC++ 7.1) and instructions to any email requesters.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I'd be interested in looking at your source.  I've been meaning to get around to implementing something like this.

On a side note, there is a version of VNC called Ultra VNC that seems to forked off of Real VNC's codebase (so I bet the same commandline options work).  It feels/appears much more responsive than Real VNC and even Tight VNC.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

UltraVNC hooks into the graphics driver and so can also display a few things that use overlays or other tricks.

One big use of VNC in support is that it doesn't disable any of the video settings unlike remote desktop.
We had one user who managed to switch their laptop to svideo output only. For some reason the graphics settings tool wouldn't start in VGA mode and remote desktop doesn't let you change any display settings.

Martin Beckett
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I've used UltraVNC a few times to help customers, but I found it slow. Sometimes, it would just freeze for a several seconds, before resuming. Both computers connected to the Net through DSL, so bandwidth was OK. Has anyone seen this? Is there some switch I should tell the customer to activate on their side?

Incidently, I find it strange that VNC is the only remote control application that I saw that handles the reverse connection thingie. Surely, competitors don't expect customers to ask their IT people to open up their firewall and portforward stuff to that customer's PC for support?

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Check out GenControl too (don't think it would have solved your paricular issue though):

This copies the VNC server to the remote machine (via the \\machine\c$ admin share) installs and starts the service (using RPC) and then starts an embedded version of the VNC viewer. Of course you need admin access to the remote machine for tis to work - but works very well for tech support on our LAN.

Duncan Smart
Thursday, July 15, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home