You are herewww.Copilot.com is Awesome!

www.Copilot.com is Awesome!


By steve - Posted on 20 December 2008

I've been using www.copilot.com for over a year. Copilot is a website with two software download components that allows you to take over a remote computer and help the remote user with whatever issues they might have (at least as long as both of you can get connected to the internet).

I used it a little during the beta program in 2007 (or was it 2006?) 2005 and have used it many times since. Awhile ago, I found out that during weekends the service is FREE!

Here's how it all works...

The User Experience

Basically, copilot was created to allow helpers create ad hoc remote connections to support less experienced users. A helper has the technical knowledge (this would be you) and the user has limited knowledge (this might be your customer or Grandma).

It seems that about 90% of the tech support calls that I get from parents, relatives, clients, etc. could be fixed just by being able to see their screen and click a few things. Slippery toolbars, missing window panes, minimized windows... these take forever to describe, diagnose, and fix, when an inexperienced user is trying to talk to you over the phone and describe what they see.

It usually sounds something like this:

Granny: "My email is funny looking."
Me: "What do you mean by funny looking?"
Granny: "I can't see my emails."
Me: "What do you see?"
Granny: "It just says 'Internet Explorer'."
Me: "Across the top of the window?"
Granny: "No, in the middle of the tube."
Me: "You mean the title bar of the window?"
Granny: "What?"
Me: "On the window."
Granny: "What window?"
Me: "OK, never mind. How do you normally get to your email?"
Granny: "It is on my favorites, but I can't see them where they usually are on the left side."
Me: "Oh, OK, just do a ctrl-I."
Granny: "A control eye?"
Me: "Yeah. ctrl-I."
Granny: "I don't see an eye..."

Repeat. For several hours.

I usually use Radmin to remote support my regular clients and computers I access frequently. It is inexpensive and has remote control, file transfer, and telnet support. You can access an entire network by opening one port on a firewall and the program is fast and very compatible with Windows XP and Windows Server, the computers I normally deal with. I've also used PC Anywhere, VNC, and many other programs to get this kind of access to remote support desktops all over the world. However, each of these solutions take time to deploy and properly set up.

This is where Copilot really stands out. You don't have to configure anything! All you have to do is be able to get your remote user to go to a web page, click a button, answer yes a few times, and you have control of their computer! If Granny can get to a website, you can support her!

Since on weekends Copilot is free (and that is when we get most ad hoc support calls), you can get back to watching your HDTV, facebooking, or whatever you do on weekends in minutes instead of hours.

Here's what you do for free weekend support:

  1. go to http://www.copilot.com
  2. click were it says you want to "help someone"
  3. enter your name (the remote user will see this when they follow your steps to connect), accept the terms of service and click GO
  4. download and run the small program shown in step 2
  5. wait until you get the other part connected

Here's what you have the user do:

  1. Tell them to open the browser (like they were going to go to google) and in the address bar, type www.copilot.com
  2. Tell them to put the invitation code in, accept the terms of service, and click GO.
  3. They should see "Connect to (your name here)", so tell them to click on "Download Now!"
  4. Depending on their browser, they'll see the usual download/open/run windows provided by firefox or IE, so do what you need to get them to download and run the small program.
  5. Have them click "YES" to "Allow (your name here) to connect to your computer?"

At this point, you should be connected and able to see their screen!

During the week, you can buy a day pass or use other options to get discounted access, if you use the service on a regular basis. The steps for using a day pass are similar, but there will be an intermediate payment step where you can use PayPal or a credit card (you can pay or the user can pay) for a $5 day pass. A bargin!

Also, with the OneClick option, you can install the remote software on a user's computer and leave it there, then access their system any time you want (at least as long as they are logged on, it seems).

I'll still be using radmin when I have to be able to access a computer that may be logged off and for massive deployments, but for ad hoc, one-off, Grandmotherly support, I'll be using Copilot.

The Architecture

Briefly, Copilot uses VNC client and server technology, but reflects the transfer of information (mouse, keystrokes, etc.) thru the copilot servers without having to deal with punching a hole in a router or using a VPN connection. This is all wrapped up in a very nice interface and user experience with the website making it easy to set things up and get going with minimal fuss.

Copilot is highly recommended and does what it is designed to do extremely well.

Copilot also has some nice features beyond what VNC offeres

Tags

Yes, seen that conversation with a relative before. However, I have found teamviewer to be the remote control tool of choice. It is free all the time for personal use (like the senario you mention), and has many additional tools as well as remote control.

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