TightVNC: Quick-and-Dirty Remote Control

Nothing is worse than arriving at a remote destination, turning on your computer, and finding out that you left something critical back at home. That’s where remote control software comes in, and I’ve previously covered a few of the best known products in this category. Recently, I’ve been using a much lesser-known, free and open source remote control product called TightVNC. It has a lot going for it, and many web workers may find it easier to download and use than some of the other choices.

When I went to download TightVNC, I didn’t give any thought to where the name came from. However, after I timed the download and entire installation at 45 seconds, I’m pretty sure I know where the “tight” part of the name comes from. (The VNC part comes because TightVNC is an open source offshoot of remote control product RealVNC.)

TightVNC is a no frills, lightweight remote control application with a footprint of only 1.5 megabytes. You could easily keep it on a USB thumb drive so that it’s with you wherever you go, and you can get access to files back on your remote computer.

Despite its lack of bulk and frills, TightVNC does a good job of warning you to use passwords and names for computers as you set up TightVNC Server and your options for connecting remotely. This is important, because setting up remote connections without following proper security policies is an easy way to expose your data to others.

As in other remote control products, with TightVNC you run TightVNC server on a host machine, set a password for accessing it, and then you use client software for remote access. There are other remote control products with more robust feature sets, but many of them cost money, or are loaded with confusing features. TightVNC keeps it simple. It’s available for Windows and Linux, but unfortunately not for the Mac yet. (RealVNC does work on the Mac.)

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