TeamViewer 13 review: setup, remote control, file transfer, interface, etc.
TeamViewer is a desktop sharing program that allows users to control other computers remotely and with little technical skill. Basically, it is accessible to anyone these days to grasp. To clarify each aspect and see how it works we’ve figured to do a little TeamViewer review.
The principle of any remote access tools is simple: run the program on both your side and other person’s. Each session is protected by a unique ID and password. It is pretty popular due to costing nothing if using for non-commercial purposes, though there are asterisks to that.
Key values/features enlist ease of use, remote control, session records, file transfer, chat, meetings, phone and video calls, availability for all devices. Primarily, we are looking into TeamViewer free version, as most people would use it to fix issues remotely or help a friend with a certain task. First, the basic data.
|Vendor||TeamViewer Germany GmbH (website)|
|Software type||Remote administration, desktop sharing|
|Newest version (for Windows)||TeamViewer v.14.5.5819 out September 2019|
|Freemium||Free for personal use|
|License Business||$49 / Premium - $99 / Corporate - $199 (monthly, billed annually)|
|OS||Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Chrome OS, Blackberry|
|Disk space||84 MB|
1. Setup: How to install Teamviewer
Go to the vendor’s website where on the main page you will see big green button “Download for free”. Upon clicking TeamViewer_Setup.exe file will be loaded to a folder of your choice. Then click on that installer to begin.
In the first window select the type of installation: basic (general use), unattended access, or one-time use. Select commercial or non-commercial use, and note if you’d like to cheat you’ll end up outsmarted by the program anyway. Eventually, it will require a license activation due to frequent activity.
Wait one or two minutes to finish the installation and launch TeamViewer 13. You will see that your PC is assigned an ID and password. You can create new random password, copy it to clipboard, or set personal password. Write it down. You will see a green-lighted notification in the bottom part - ‘Ready to connect’.
And you’re ready to go, nothing complicated. In addition, you can go to ‘Settings’ to set TeamViewer to start automatically with Windows, assign a device to account (optional) for easy access, etc.
2. Interface, features overview
TeamViewer is designed both for personal use (to access home PC remotely) and IT departments - as a support and/or a collaboration tool. Your PC and partner PC, or host and admin computers, can share access to each other, send files, while also being secured in alternate to VPN way. Interface is clean and well-organized in a white-and-blue color scheme. A split screen with your ID/password and remote connection options. A panel with options, settings, help, etc. on the top, and a side panel for remote control, meetings, chat.
In ‘Options’ tab you have user control over all program’s settings, starting from password, account, display quality to audio/video conferencing and advanced settings that can amend TeamViewer performance. Of course, the main purpose of TeamViewer is to access remote devices, but here’s what is available besides that:
- Cross-platform support - PC, laptop, smartphone, tablet;
- Unattended access - without someone on the other side to grant access (requires specific type of installation);
- File transfer options - shared clipboard to copy-paste, ‘transfer’ connection, integration with Google Drive or Dropbox;
- Printing - on local printer from remote computer files;
- Team accounts - with multi-user sessions, corporate groups, management console, etc.;
- Collaboration tools - online meetings, messaging, video conferencing, play and record options.
Free version has its limitations, unfortunately. Full functionality is only available within a bought and activated license. Moreover, if you’re using TeamViewer intensely and frequently, it might interpret it as commercial use and ask for a license.
3. Remote control
Now, let’s explore the main feature of TeamViewer: remote access. When you’ve got partner’s credentials, you need to enter that ID, tap ‘Remote access’ below and click ‘Connect’.
Note, that the program should be installed the same way on the computer/device you’re connecting to. Thus, it will also have the ID and password, which consists of 6 digits by default, but can be re-set to 8 or 10, or even set as personal password. Then, for authentication, enter the password from remote PC and click ‘Log on’. If successful, you’ll see a remote desktop and then will be able to do whatever you need there. The desktop will appear in a window with a toolbar on top of it.
Toolbar has shortcuts to most likely actions one has to perform, such as remote system info, reboot, leave note, adjust a display, making screenshots, etc. By default, a wallpaper on remote device will change to all-black, but don’t worry, you can uncheck to show it, as well as a cursor.
4. File transfer
If one needs TeamViewer primarily to send or receive files, choose ‘File transfer’ type of connection on the start. Using this option from ‘Remote control’ mode is not a problem either - just go to ‘Files & extras’ tab in the toolbar.
File transfer can be done via a standard dual-pane window for local and remote devices, or a ‘File box’ to drop files into. We have tested a dual-pane manager by sending 1GB file and it took 4 minutes 33 seconds. All smooth and no lags.
In any type of connection, one can use an alternative way of sending files and documents. In the toolbar on the top click ‘Open file transfer’ (dual-pane) or ‘Share via file box’ to choose files from host computer, Google Drive, etc.
5. Chat, calls, meetings
TeamViewer is also a collaboration tool. In the second tab in the left-side menu, users can schedule a meeting or join one. This could be a fine alternative to Skype, for example. When one schedules a meeting, it has an ID - something like mXX-XXX-XXX, so that only invited people can join in.
Users may invite others by sending an email straight from TeamViewer with a link and meeting ID, or copying information to clipboard. All in all, this feature could become handy to conduct calls, conferences, chats or presentations with remote teams. Recording a session is available as well.
One can share screens, present some idea or product while explaining/commenting it via a phone or video call. For some people ‘Whiteboard’ feature might be of great use - drawing and outlining parts on a screen by cursor, as if on a board. For others, chat is helpful, for instance, if audio isn’t working properly, or you just want to leave a note.
6. TeamViewer mobile app
Actually, there are 3 apps. TeamViewer - to control remote device from a smartphone, TeamViewer QuickSupport - to allow remote control of a smartphone, and TeamViewer Host - for unattended control of mobile devices. QuickSupport is the one we need.
Download the app, allow control, and see an ID assigned (though it seemed a bit strange that there was no password for connections, like on desktop app). To be frank, it will also require a separate add-on for a specific smartphone model to install as well. After that, the workflow is easy. Connection and control via QuickSupport is similar to the one on PC - once a remote session starts, a smartphone screen appears on a computer. From there one can access and do everything on a phone: install apps, check contacts, go to settings, etc.
This might be especially helpful for repairs, as technicians are able to view device information, transfer files, stop processes, check wi-fi settings, etc. Essentially, its the same as having a phone in your own hands.
Of course, online security is crucial to all of us these days. TeamViewer has thorough enough security measures in place. They enroll data encryption with 2048 RSA private/public key and 256-bit standard, which essentially means client-to-client data protection, that even TeamViewer’s routing servers can’t read. Find out more here. In terms of security measures by a user, there are several possibilities. To use TeamViewer app on another device, or to access a host device when nobody is there, one has to have an account and enter the credentials. This way one adds a device to ‘Trusted devices’.
Other option is to generate a new random password, to set your own password, or change standard password length from 4 to 6, 8, or 10 characters. Additionally, there’s the option to grant specific users easy access, i.e. no passwords to connect. And a blacklist as the most blunt option to block users.
8. Pricing / License
While using the free TeamViewer 13 version, there is often a notification to ‘Register an account for full functionality’ and other similar pop-ups. Moreover, TeamViewer monitors the activity and may restrict a free account in case of intense activity. This is commercially reasonable, as nothing is really free.
There are 3 pricing plans, all billed annually:
- $49/month - single user, unlimited, 1 session at a time;
- $99/month - multiple users, 1 session at a time, full functionality;
- $199/month - multiple users, 3 sessions at a time, mass deployment and integrations.
It means, one has to pay $588 for personal 1-year use, or $1,188 for corporate use. Find more details here.
9. TeamViewer 14 beta
New improvements are on the way and already available in TeamViewer 14 Preview version. Firstly, it comes with upgrades of performance: low bandwidth connections, MacOS Mojave tools, one-click script execution, new design and dark mode, more management options. Secondly, Augmented Reality remote support - for camera sharing, 3D annotations, video streaming, etc. More in the video:
10. Alternatives to TeamViewer
- Splashtop. Remote access to own and shared computers at any time. Huge emphasis on security of connections.
- Supremo. Easy and complete remote desktop control app, no need to install anything.
- Chrome Remote Desktop. Free and not that powerful as TeamViewer, however it could still be great for casual use and it works via Chrome browser.
As it turns out, TeamViewer app offers good performance and usability, little lag time. It definitely deserves a look if you’re seeking a remote access tool. Beside simple personal use, it can be applied as a support/collaboration tool by IT departments. It works on desktop PCs and mobile devices, it is easy enough for everyone. Plus, there are plenty of FAQs and how-to videos on their website. Speaking of a flip side, TeamViewer license is quite expensive.