Windows remote assistance

Windows Remote Assistance Guide

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Hello and welcome, my fellow tele-toilers and anyone just scrolling by!

Today we’re going to have a good and proper look at Windows remote assistance. As for: what it’s all about, can it fly right for your scenarios, will it solve your problems or add on more, and why thirdparty remote assistant software is much safer than system utility apps.

Plus, we’ll find out if remote desktop assistance and remote access assistance is the same thing (spoiler: not at all), and get tipped off about some tangible specifics of remote assistance in different Windows system versions.

All right, let’s roll!

What is Windows remote assistance?

First things first, let’s take care that we won’t get our wires crossed. There is a concept of remote assistance both in Windows and other operating systems. And then there is a like-named system feature first introduced in Windows XP. I’ve got a big fine-tooth post on the remote assistance specifics, so in brief, it’s all about letting an entrusted helper control your computer for a little while, so they can access it remotely via a network (typically via the Internet) and fix whatever technical issues you’re dealing with.

As you can imagine, googling may be sort of confusing. But never fear, the ace unscrambler is here. We’ll sort it all out, I promise.

Windows remote assistance vs. remote desktop connection

Well, I get why some folks tend to mix these two concepts up. But while both remote assistance and remote desktop sessions start with an invitation, require your permission to happen and come to pass via RDP the difference between remote assistance and remote desktop connection is quite substantial. I’d say, it pretty much jumps to the eye if you know where to look.

Remote desktop connections are nine times out of ten used to access your own machine from a distance. Sure thing, you can use it to get remote computer assistance, but during a session won’t be able to even see what some distant person is doing with your system, files, and whatnot, let alone interfere in any way. If you’re in need of a remote tech aid, it’s better to use Windows remote assistance instead, so you’ll get to keep track of what’s going on, actively participate in the process and never share any data you don’t feel like sharing.

How to use Windows Remote Assistance

Some of the details will vary depending on the Windows version you have, but the overall process of using Windows remote assistance via a standard system feature is pretty much the same.
  1. Adjust your System Properties to allow remote access. You may need some aid from a system administrator to do that on your office PC.
  2. If you have a third-party firewall, you’ll also need to open the port 3389 (or have a system administrator do it for you).
  3. Use a system app or feature to generate an encrypted file and/or password needed to request remote assistance, then pass those to someone you trust via the invitation email.
  4. Hit your snooze button (in a figural sense) and wait till the helper-outer connects to your PC and fixes it for you.

And don’t forget to untick the ‘Allow remote assistance connections to this computer’ box on the system Properties Remote pane.

Windows 10 remote assistance

The most convenient way to get Windows 10 remote assistance is to type msra.exe in your Command Prompt and follow the instructions of the Quick Assist utility. But first you’ll need to tweak your computer’s properties to allow remote assistance and enable the quick assist feature. Besides that, there is an oldschool Windows Remote Assistance tool just in case someone contracts the habit of using it since WinXP times.

Windows 8 remote assistance: some essential details

There is no Quick Assist in Windows 8, so you’ll have to use a good old MS Remote Assistance tool. The Easy Connect feature is pretty buggy here, so to avoid problems, request Windows 8 remote assistance by emailing an invitation file (the one with the .msrcincident extension) to a support technician or your tech-savvy friend.

Windows 7 Remote Assistance

Click Get help from a friend on the Control Panel’s left pane to prompt for a Windows 7 remote assistance, and send the Invitation.msrsincident file to your trusted helper. The session won’t start without your permission so don’t miss the popup box.

Is it safe to use remote assistance?

One last question I can’t leave out of this blog is: ‘Is it safe to use remote assistance?’ The harsh truth of modern digital reality is that no connection can be totally safe. So the real question is: what precautions should I take to minimize the risks.

The most obvious (and the list expected, I guess) tip is to never use those standard Windows utilities we’ve been talking about this whole time. Mostly ’cause they all operate via the RDP connection which from a perspective of cybersecurity is an open door with a huge neon sign saying ‘Come and get whatever you want’. Though I can imagine some scenarios with no other choice, a third-party product like TeamViewer or HelpWire will always be the better option.

Ok, now that’ll be all for today. Don’t hesitate to click my links for a better grasp on Windows remote assistance, stay safe and see ya all in the next HelpWire blogs.