Looks like the free LogMeIn option is going away.
It had to happen eventually, but it kind of sucks for those of us who relied on it to get certain things done.
They sent an email this morning, giving free users, like me, about a week to either pony up for a pro account or find another solution. I figured I would have to search around for a while to find an alternative, but, thankfully, the folks over at Slashdot were already talking about it in the thread Short Notice: LogMeIn To Discontinue Free Access. The ever helpful commenters had a lot of suggestions, with varying levels of snark and technical skill required and, you know, actual usefulness. There were some interesting and baroque solutions to this pretty common problem.
Now, I’m a devote of Perl, so the idea that “there’s more than one way to do it” is near and dear to my heart, but some of those solutions on Slashdot were more hassle than they were worth!
The solution I looked at and quickly tested today was the Chrome Remote Desktop plugin.
I chose this for a couple of reasons. First, it was free. Frankly, that was probably the most important requirement. I don’t have a budget for a lot of things I don’t use everywhere or every day, so I need to be careful how I spend that money. Secondly, it was easy to implement and use. There were several options discussed on Slashdot, but most of them were going to take creating one or more accounts on services like DynDNS or something similar, or they would need a new server or other dedicated machine. That wasn’t going to work for me either. I need something simple to install and use. Mostly because I’m lazy, but still, the requirement is there. And, thirdly, there had to be some kind of security on it so random users couldn’t log into machines.
Now, the “down-side”, such as it is. This solution requires that Chrome be installed on any machine you want to get access to or from. This is a Chrome plugin, so, obviously, it won’t work without Chrome. Secondly, to get it and install it, you need a Google account of some kind, even though it’s free. Gmail will do, and in fact was what I used to get the plugin from the Google App Store. And, yeah, that was pretty much the only “bad” thing about it. Again, for me, it wasn’t a big deal because I tend to install Chrome on any machine I happen to work on for any length of time, but it could be a hassle for people who don’t use or know Chrome.
Setup was easy and prompted me to enable remote connections to my machine then immediately asked me to set a PIN to restrict access. I like that it did that. Also, the PIN is required to be at least six digits, which is decent enough security. I, personally, made it seven digits, but for the truly paranoid, you can make it longer. I first set the plugin up on my work machine and then set it up at lunch on my home PC. Again, I was asked for a PIN. I happened to make it the same, but I’m pretty sure that PIN was unique to each machine, so, again, for the truly paranoid, you can lock this down pretty well. After that five minute install, I was able to take over my machine at work. Boom! Just that easy.
As a further test of the plugin’s ability, I checked the box that allowed for “off-line access”, then I shut down my Chrome browser at home. Once I got back to work, I tried remotely accessing my home PC. I was asked for the PIN and then I was right in! Again, just that easy.
Also, I should note that my work PC has only one monitor, but my home PC has two and Chrome Remote Desktop plugin flawlessly displayed both monitors. It was absolutely amazing! And, the connection was fast! Frankly, it was faster than LogMeIn was most of the time. It was great!
So, I know that LogMeIn won’t miss my business, since I never really gave them any, but I cannot say that I’ll miss them. This is a great solution to the problem of remote access and I cannot be happier with it. We’ll see how things go over time, of course, but this looks like a great, easy and free replacement for LogMeIn.
If you all find other solutions or solutions that you think work better, leave the information in the comments!