Technology Untangled: GoToMyPC for iPad or Android has some shortcomings

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technology-bourIt used to be that anytime I was planning to be away from the office for a while, including a summer vacation, my laptop computer came along. Some work could be done on the laptop, while other tasks required remote access to the main computer at the office using GoToMyPC. These days, lugging even a portable computer seems too onerous. The iPad continues to take over. Today’s article will look at lightening the travel load by using an iPad to remotely access your computers back at home and the office. This is accomplished with the mobile device versions of GoToMyPC.

The standard version of GoToMyPC has been a useful and successful product for many years. For as low as $9.99/month or $99.99/year you can set up an individual computer with the ability to be remotely accessed through the Internet. Subscription costs are based upon how many computers you want to access remotely, not upon how many different devices you want to use as remote access terminals. The standard concept has a person accessing their work computer from their home computer. With that setup, the effect is as if you are using a mouse and keyboard with really long extension cords connected back to the office.

With an iPad or Android tablet, there is no mouse or tactile keyboard, so things get a bit more difficult. Installation, however, is an easy process. Simply search the App Store or the Google Play Store and install GoToMyPC for free. Launch the app, type in your preconfigured user name and password for the host computer, and soon the screen of that host computer appears on your tablet. Surprisingly, the wait time for the host screen to appear on my iPad is noticeably shorter than the wait time on my PC.

The first thing that pops up on top of your tablet screen is a guide for using the virtual mouse as a substitute for your real mouse. Figuring out this virtual mouse took some study and practice, and I still can’t use it very smoothly. A small two-button mouse image floats over the host screen image, just below the image of the mouse pointer. You have to drag this little image around the screen and tap it just the right way to get it to do what you need. Unless you zoom in, it is hard to hit exactly what you are aiming at with the virtual mouse. This is to be expected when working with an iPad screen that is less than one-fourth the size of the LCD screen it is emulating. You can also call up a set of left-right, up-down arrow keys that I found a bit easier to use.

For typing, pressing three fingers on the surface of the iPad brings up the keyboard, which then blocks out half of the already undersized view of the host computer’s screen. I have never been a big fan of touch screen keyboards, and this one is a bit more difficult to use with the added extra lag time due to the remote connection. This is not to say that you can’t get some useful work done with it in a pinch.

Can you use this technology if you no longer use a PC, and work exclusively with Mac computers? Yes. Note that GoToMyPC also can be used through all your mobile devices to remotely access your Mac. Strangely, it is still called “GoToMyPC” even though there is no Windows PC involved. The company website explains that they wanted to stick with their trusted brand name and consider “PC” to be more about the “personal computer” rather than a specific operating system.

Just to test the limits of functionality, I tried accessing my work PC from my Android phone. While it is possible to access and operate your computer from your phone, it is not very practical; the 4-inch phone screen is simply too small. Sure, you can zoom in on any portion of the screen, but reading that cropped screen was clumsy as was operating the mouse within the abbreviated views.

Using your tablet to gain emergency access back to your main computer could prove beneficial on occasion. I have found it somewhat useful for situations like reviewing archival emails or retrieving documents from older case files. It has also been useful for providing real-time technical assistance for others who were simultaneously in front of the host computer in the office. But for regular everyday use, wrestling with an iPad in order to do much productive work on the host computer is a stretch.

In spite of the shortcomings of remote access, I do like having the ability to leave the laptop behind during summer travels. The iPad and the GoToMyPC option make it possible to travel light, yet still have a functional method for using your other computers if necessary.•


Stephen Bour ( is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.


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    Try this. Ammyy Admin is a powerful multi-task solution for remote desktop sharing, remote computer administration and distance learning from any location in the World.

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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.