As someone who is known amongst friends to work in the computer industry I often get asked to help sort out people’s problems. Talking someone over the phone to deal with problems can be difficult, and often it is easier to understand and solve a problem if you can see the machine which brings with it a host of practicality issues. Remote management tools aren’t a new thing, but having one that doesn’t cost you anything to help friends and family with and works over HTTP/HTTPS without needing to know the IPs involved is important an relatively new.
MasterNewMedia.org has a nice little article with plenty of links to tools and services in this area with a review of what they offer which can be found at Remote PC Support Tools: A Mini-Guide, worth checking out. I’ll be trying out TeamViewer which is free for personal use doesn’t require client installation and a small app at my end to sort things out. Good security – the client has to send you details independently of the tool for connecting to them (they suggest the phone). The client tool doesn’t need to be installed – just launched via the website.