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  • Freeware Spotlight – Distant Desktop

    Home Forums AskWoody blog Freeware Spotlight – Distant Desktop

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      • #2352079
        Deanna McElveen
        AskWoody_MVP

        Best Utilities By Deanna McElveen It’s unfortunate that I paid for an annual renewal of Team Viewer just before I found Distant Desktop. I might have
        [See the full post at: Freeware Spotlight – Distant Desktop]

      • #2352099
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        “Free of bundleware? You know it.”

        According to HitmanPro.Alert the file contains malware.

        Attachments:
        • #2352102
          rc primak
          AskWoody_MVP

          That’s a common problem with freeware. The installers may contain adware, which is not really malicious. It’s just annoying. More in the PUP category than the PUM category.

          Ignore if you don’t mind the possibility of in-program or Tray Area (or Toast flyout) nags or ads. No mention of any of this stuff in anything from OlderGeeks, and I think they would notify us if there were such problems.

          Hitman Pro and many other programs try to pump up their detection rates by alerting users to adware. While annoying, most adware is otherwise benign. And a lot of it can be blocked.

          -- rc primak

        • #2352175
          kydar
          AskWoody Plus

          “According to HitmanPro.Alert the file contains malware.”

          Almost any remote-control software will get flagged as PUP/malware just because of the nature of what it is.  Think about it, you’re installing software that will allow someone (you, hopefully) to control your PC remotely.  Big flag for malware-checkers.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2352105
        rc primak
        AskWoody_MVP

        “We guarantee that Distant Desktop will remain 100% free at least two years, but then we plan to set limitations for some features (e.g., commercial use). Why it’s free now? The answer is simple. It’s the best way to promote the desktop software today. Besides, our team has other big projects, from which we gain a profit.”

        That’s an interesting business model.

        It certainly is. And it has a name. It’s called Freemium software, or Free as in Beer. I prefer my free software to remain free. That’s why I use FLOSS, not FOSS or just FS.

        (Free Libre Open Source Software, Free Open Source Software, [proprietary] “Free” Software. The latter is either a “free trial”, a watermarked “free” version, or a test product which will eventually — usually just when you need it the most —  become a paid or subscription product. This product is a test product.)

        If you wonder what the business model is for FLOSS, it’s simply the copy-left principle. You contribute code to the Community to make the software better. Everyone benefits. You can make money by offering enterprise class versions, premium support options and/or professional services connected with the software. This business model is good enough for Canonical (Ubuntu Linux) and RedHat (Fedora Linux) so it must work for people who really put in the effort. No one deserves to make money in perpetuity from only having written some code. (Unless you work for someone else who pays people to do that.)

        -- rc primak

        • #2352415
          MHCLV941
          AskWoody Plus

          In this class of software, there are hard costs associated with its operation.   How does your preferred model support those costs?  Are the folks who are kind enough to give you useful things for free supposed to shoulder those costs?   If not, where do you think the money comes from?

          • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by MHCLV941.
          • #2353667
            rc primak
            AskWoody_MVP

            There are lots of Linux projects where someone  has dedicated a server for the use of people who use the software. It’s all free. Though, sometimes server usage has tiered levels, so that there is a premium level of services.

            As I said before, with FLOSS you don’t make money from writing code. You make money by offering value-added services. The use of your servers is a value-added service, beyond a basic level.

            -- rc primak

            • #2353671
              MHCLV941
              AskWoody Plus

              Only in IT can “free” have an entire lexicon for a very simple concept.

              If you have to write a check to use a program is it not free;   if you do not have to write a check to use it, it is free.

              1 user thanked author for this post.
              • #2355586
                rc primak
                AskWoody_MVP

                Free and Libre have different meanings. Free can be a free trial, a limited time offer, or a watermarked or feature hobbled version of a paid product. Libre means freely donated to a community of users and developers, with few or no strings attached (MIT License vs. GNU Public License terms).

                Open source similarly can mean owned by a company (chromium, owned by Google), donated to a community (like the Linux kernel), or licensed to a community but technically owned by some party (like Microsoft’s Sysinternals).

                Sorry, but the English Language does not offer the subtleties of French and most other languages, so we do need to define our terms more explicitly.

                In ancient Greek they had six or seven different words for what we English speakers lump together as “love”.

                -- rc primak

      • #2352108
        rc primak
        AskWoody_MVP

        Figure 5. Even my cats are screen addicts.

        As Salem the Cat (voiced by Nick Bakay) on the old Sabrina Teen Witch show used to say:

        “Please! Show me one self-respecting cat who doesn’t know how to work a mouse!”

        -- rc primak

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2352110
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        Hitman Pro and many other programs try to pump up their detection rates by alerting users to adware.

        That is a grave statement close to Defamation. I trust HitManPro.
        The app has been deleted.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2352168
        Noel Carboni
        AskWoody_MVP

        I know nothing of this particular software, nor why an AV package might flag it, but I do have a general comment about security since there has been discussion of adware above…

        Adware potentially CAN DELIVER malware. Try not to think of them as two different things. And this is not hypothetical only; look up and read about “drive by malware” and “PUPs” some time. This is a good reason to never, ever allow ads on your system – not even for this site.

        If a program downloads and runs software from who knows where to try to sell you something, it almost certainly has no control of what that software is and from where it is being downloaded. Rest assured that a software author being paid to show you ads is most certainly NOT taking the time to vet those ads (and most likely doesn’t even know what will be delivered) nor build a safe sandbox in which they are to be run.

        Think about it – an application that you’ve installed with privileges could download and run adware with higher privileges than your browser. You know that prompt for your administrative password you have to answer asking whether you want to give it permission to be installed? You’ve just granted it permission to do things not only NOW but also into the FUTURE.

        Now back to THIS issue…

        Rather than making a guess about HitMan Pro’s motivation for flagging it as “Potentially Unwanted”, the question becomes… WHY might it be potentially unwanted? Does this Distant Desktop program actually host ads? HitMan Pro might just be flagging the behavior of Distant Desktop for exposing control of your computer system’s console to a remote user, which could be considered malicious if you didn’t know that was what it was doing. In this case you do.

        Security in computer systems is not something that can be oversimplified. The details matter. Don’t shut your brain off because you have gained a false sense of security from some random AV package. Think it through.

        Recall how I said “I know nothing of this particular software” up above? That’s actually something in itself. Personally I wouldn’t choose to trust a new application that 1) installs with privileges, and 2) which I had not heard of before and which has not already gained some years of clear, solid reputation. HitMan Pro may not have much history with it either, which increases the risk – hence the flagging.

        -Noel

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2352186
        glnz
        AskWoody Plus

        I’ve been using AnyDesk Free for the last two years (since TeamViewer started to push everyone into its non-free commercial category). AnyDesk has been great.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2352188
        glnz
        AskWoody Plus

        Separate question – does this Distant Desktop have an Unattended Access feature (like TeamViewer and AnyDesk)? If yes, does Distant Desktop still run only portable?

        • #2352197
          Rick Corbett
          AskWoody_MVP

          No. Distant Desktop currently is a single, portable executable file (10.5MB) that is not designed to be run as a service. As a result there’s no ‘host mode’ (Unattended Access) available as in TeamViewer.

          Hope this helps…

          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2352361
            glnz
            AskWoody Plus

            Rick – thanks.

            Although I use AnyDesk Free all the time among my and my wife’s scattered PCs — and it has Unattended Access — I like having an alternative running at the same time.  That’s been TeamViewer Free, but TV has become increasingly cranky about its Free use.

            So – is there a third option (similar to AnyDesk or TV) that people like?  Looking for Unattended Access.

            • #2352520
              georgea
              AskWoody Lounger

              Chrome Remote Desktop works well.  You don’t need Chrome, altho having that or Chromium makes the unattended host install simpler.  Still, I always have a 2nd way into a system for occasional use, and TeamViewer works fine for that since Chrome Remote Desktop host occasionally needs a service restart.  Since I seldom use TeamViewer for this purpose, it doesn’t nag me about commercial use.  It used to, then I stopped using it except as a backup, and now it’s happy.

          • #2352445
            Rick Corbett
            AskWoody_MVP

            Rick – thanks.

            Although I use AnyDesk Free all the time among my and my wife’s scattered PCs — and it has Unattended Access — I like having an alternative running at the same time.  That’s been TeamViewer Free, but TV has become increasingly cranky about its Free use.

            So – is there a third option (similar to AnyDesk or TV) that people like?  Looking for Unattended Access.

            I agree with your comment about TeamViewer‘s recent crankiness about ‘free use’. I was hit with it a month or two ago.

            However, I just emailed TeamViewer support and gave details of my absolutely non-business usage… and had the restriction lifted within a few days. I haven’t had an issue since.

            If people didn’t keep using TeamViewer for business use without purchasing a (albeit very expensive) license then there wouldn’t be such an issue.

            However, after using AnyDesk and now finding out about Distant Desktop (Thank you, Deanna), I’m pleased to have backup solutions available should TeamViewer become unusable again.

            Hope this helps…

      • #2352174
        kydar
        AskWoody Plus

        I haven’t tried Distant Desktop out, but one thing I see right off the bat is that it runs under Windows only.  That’s fine I guess if you live exclusively in the Windows ecosystem, but not so much if you have an iphone or a Linux computer.  I use AnyDesk which supports Windows, iOS (client only, due to Apple restrictions), MacOS, Linux, Android, FreeBSD, Chrome OS, and even Raspberry Pi!  Free for personal use but not free for commercial use.

        I used to use Teamviewer, but every time I would use it to access my home PC from work, they would flag my account as commercial use and lock it.  I’d then have to send an email explaining that I was accessing from a work environment but that it still met the definition of personal use according to their TOS, and then wait for them to unlock it.  I got tired of having my account locked again and again so I switched to AnyDesk and haven’t looked back.

         

         

        • #2352363
          glnz
          AskWoody Plus

          Agree with kvdar – same experience.

        • #2352364
          nazzy
          AskWoody Lounger

          Not sure how long this has been the case, but Teamviewer now considers using your office PC to remote into your home PC as “commercial use”.  The below was copied directly from their “reset page” to reactivate accounts that were wrongly-flagged for commercial use.

          What’s considered commercial use?
          Using TeamViewer for your business or profession – including accessing your home computer from work or connecting to a Windows Server operating system – or for any purpose for which you directly or indirectly receive compensation constitutes commercial use and requires subscription license in accordance with the End User License Agreement.

           

          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2352423
            kydar
            AskWoody Plus

            Well that would explain why my account kept getting locked anyway.  Thanks for that clarification.

      • #2352222
        RetiredGeek
        AskWoody MVP

        Gave this a run. Works fine. I did have a problem sending a file to my laptop. Turns out it doesn’t like Controlled Folder Access. Turned it off and worked fine with the exception that it doesn’t let you choose where to put the file it places in in the Distant Desktop folder in your Documents folder. In further testing I added an exception for the program in Controlled Folder Access and the transfer worked fine running in USER (non Admin) mode on both machines.

        In response to the comments above about PUPs etc, Neither Defender or Malwarebytes made any complaints. I even manually scanned the file with MB w/o issue.

        One annoying issue on my dual screen desktop it wants to keep moving to my main screen. It will also not let you grab the title bar and move it between screens. You can use the keyboard to move it between screens though. When on the second screen I can drag it up and down but not left or right? Drags just fine on the main screen. Minor quirks since I will use it full screen on the second screen all the time.

        Looks good to me. I’ll report back after I try this with some of my friends that I support.

        😎

        May the Forces of good computing be with you!

        RG

        PowerShell & VBA Rule!
        Computer Specs

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2352217
        jd45123
        AskWoody Plus

        Quick Assist is built in to Windows.  Why not just use Quick Assist?

        • #2352280
          kydar
          AskWoody Plus

          Never used Quick Assist, but from what I can tell, two big drawbacks are 1) no unattended access, parties need to both be sitting at PCs, and 2) no file sharing.  I might be wrong about this – as I said I’ve never used it.

        • #2352324
          RetiredGeek
          AskWoody MVP

          Quick Assist does NOT support file transfer among other things.

          May the Forces of good computing be with you!

          RG

          PowerShell & VBA Rule!
          Computer Specs

      • #2352289
        anonymous
        Guest

        It’s very possible that Distant Desktop is just trying to gain market share  to monetize later but it’s equally possible for a nation state to be pumping out completely free software with dormant code. There is really no information and no real way to tell the difference so it’s concerning to see it being casually recommended by such a reputable source as AskWoody. It’s just hard to trust a company when all it says in its about us page is, “Our team consists of over 10 people. “

        • #2352523
          georgea
          AskWoody Lounger

          There are some dodgy aspects to Distant Desktop.  There is no info on where they are located – not even in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, but there’s enough broken English that it’s clear they are not native English speakers.  Searching for the company name “distant software” turns up nothing.  Their biz model is hard to understand unless it’s bait and switch.

      • #2352325
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        HitMan Pro may not have much history with it either, which increases the risk – hence the flagging.

        HitmanPro.alert is a Sophos security software. I wouldn’t say that Sophos may not have much history.

        I use the app for years and it never failed.

      • #2352328
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        “According to HitmanPro.Alert the file contains malware.”

        Almost any remote-control software will get flagged as PUP/malware just because of the nature of what it is.  Think about it, you’re installing software that will allow someone (you, hopefully) to control your PC remotely.  Big flag for malware-checkers.

        False statement.
        I use from time to time both TeamViewer and AnyDesk with no alerts (running HitmanPro.Alert and Kaspersky A/V).

        • #2352425
          kydar
          AskWoody Plus

          I wouldn’t be so quick to make the assumption that I’m wrong (although perhaps I am).  TV and AnyDesk might be whitelisted by the big AV companies.  Software that gives remote access and full control to a remote user is bound to trip lots of AV alarms.  If it didn’t, they wouldn’t be doing their jobs.

      • #2352417
        MHCLV941
        AskWoody Plus

        Let’s hope these folks are not looking to follow LogMeIn’s business model. LogMeIn started off free, then added a modestly priced paid version that coopted a couple of free features.

        Then they started packing the basic remote control program with all manner of unrelated things, from cloud storage to a password manager.  And they jacked the price up so high that the program is not cost-effective for now-former customers who neither needed nor wanted all those additional “features” or wanted to pay the price for them.

        Not everyone wants or can afford a Rolls Royce; unless one wants to be a niche player, gutting your product line so you only offer Rolls Royces is not a good long-term strategy.

        Remote Desktop solved the problems my client needed to be solved for a quarter of the money LogMeIn wanted.

      • #2352449
        Rick Corbett
        AskWoody_MVP

        Not sure how long this has been the case, but Teamviewer now considers using your office PC to remote into your home PC as “commercial use”.  The below was copied directly from their “reset page” to reactivate accounts that were wrongly-flagged for commercial use.

        What’s considered commercial use?
        Using TeamViewer for your business or profession – including accessing your home computer from work or connecting to a Windows Server operating system – or for any purpose for which you directly or indirectly receive compensation constitutes commercial use and requires subscription license in accordance with the End User License Agreement.

         

        Thank you for the clarification. I think it’s a shame that you youngsters still working have this new TeamViewer restriction… ‘cos it’s been a supremely reliable product since I first started using it a few years after it branched from VNC.

        Maybe I’m just set in my ways or maybe I just find it so easily scriptable… but I prefer TeamViewer to anything else currently available.

      • #2352460
        MHCLV941
        AskWoody Plus

        two big drawbacks

        3 actually.  You can’t copy-and-paste between the two machines.

        That said,  Quick Assist never claims to be a full-up remote control program.

        Quick Assist works well for what it’s supposed to do: allow someone to help someone else in the Windows world.

      • #2352554
        Rick Corbett
        AskWoody_MVP

        There are some dodgy aspects to Distant Desktop. There is no info on where they are located – not even in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, but there’s enough broken English that it’s clear they are not native English speakers. Searching for the company name “distant software” turns up nothing. Their biz model is hard to understand unless it’s bait and switch.

        Try the About Us page of Distant Desktop’s website (where it explains their business model)… or just ask the company directly.

        Hope this helps…

        • #2352560
          georgea
          AskWoody Lounger

          Huh.  There it says Toronto, Canada.  Missed that; thanks.

        • #2352608
          anonymous
          Guest

          Not saying that they’re definitely a bad actor but again, there is just NO information to help determine one way or the other. This kind of vague assertion is exactly what a nation state would say. There are no names, no address, not even an email, and nothing to indicate what “several commercial projects” might be. It all sounds nice but is completely devoid of any actual information.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2352775
        Michael432
        AskWoody_MVP

        As for competing products, I use RealVNC. There is both a free version and a commercial version. Both versions support auto-answer so you can control a remote computer without a remote person. The free version requires their cloud to make a connection. The paid version also supports port forwarding for direct connections, no cloud.

        Get up to speed on router security at RouterSecurity.org

      • #2352809
        RetiredGeek
        AskWoody MVP

        Maybe they are hiding?

        whoiscl -n -l distantdesktop.com
        
        WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
        
        Domain Name: distantdesktop.com
        Registry Domain ID: 2579637702_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
        Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
        Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
        Updated Date: 2021-02-16T00:22:21Z
        Creation Date: 2020-12-19T04:57:19Z
        Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2021-12-19T04:57:19Z
        Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
        Registrar IANA ID: 146
        Registrar Abuse Contact Email: abuse@godaddy.com
        Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.4806242505
        Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
        Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientUpdateProhibited
        Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientRenewProhibited
        Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientDeleteProhibited
        Registry Registrant ID: Not Available From Registry
        Registrant Name: Registration Private
        Registrant Organization: Domains By Proxy, LLC
        Registrant Street: DomainsByProxy.com
        Registrant Street: 14455 N. Hayden Road
        Registrant City: Scottsdale
        Registrant State/Province: Arizona
        Registrant Postal Code: 85260
        Registrant Country: US
        Registrant Phone: +1.4806242599
        Registrant Phone Ext:
        Registrant Fax: +1.4806242598
        Registrant Fax Ext:
        Registrant Email: distantdesktop.com@domainsbyproxy.com
        Registry Tech ID: Not Available From Registry
        Tech Name: Registration Private
        Tech Organization: Domains By Proxy, LLC
        Tech Street: DomainsByProxy.com
        Tech Street: 14455 N. Hayden Road
        Tech City: Scottsdale
        Tech State/Province: Arizona
        Tech Postal Code: 85260
        Tech Country: US
        Tech Phone: +1.4806242599
        Tech Phone Ext:
        Tech Fax: +1.4806242598
        Tech Fax Ext:
        Tech Email: distantdesktop.com@domainsbyproxy.com
        Registry Admin ID: Not Available From Registry
        Admin Name: Registration Private
        Admin Organization: Domains By Proxy, LLC
        Admin Street: DomainsByProxy.com
        Admin Street: 14455 N. Hayden Road
        Admin City: Scottsdale
        Admin State/Province: Arizona
        Admin Postal Code: 85260
        Admin Country: US
        Admin Phone: +1.4806242599
        Admin Phone Ext:
        Admin Fax: +1.4806242598
        Admin Fax Ext:
        Admin Email: distantdesktop.com@domainsbyproxy.com
        Name Server: NS1.INMOTIONHOSTING.COM
        Name Server: NS2.INMOTIONHOSTING.COM
        DNSSEC: unsigned
        URL of the ICANN WHOIS Data Problem Reporting System: http://wdprs.internic.net/
        >>> Last update of WHOIS database: 2021-03-24T22:19:50Z <<<
        

        😎

        May the Forces of good computing be with you!

        RG

        PowerShell & VBA Rule!
        Computer Specs

      • #2353572
        Will Fastie
        Manager

        Maybe they are hiding?

        In my Web practice I have noticed an increasing tendency to use one of the “privacy” services provided by companies such as GoDaddy to obscure ownership. When my clients ask whether they should buy the service, my stock answer is “Only if you have something to hide (and want everyone to realize it).”

        • #2353633
          SueW
          AskWoody Plus

          Interesting. When I developed my first web page in 2005, it was a given back then to use one’s registrar’s “privacy” service in order to prevent bad actors from seeing our names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses in order to prevent SPAM (or worse).

          One could (and can) still be emailed via the registrar’s registrant-specific email address on WHOIS, which then gets forwarded to the registrant.

          Win 7 SP1 Home Premium 64-bit; Office 2010; Group B (SaS); Former 'Tech Weenie'
      • #2353590
        Deanna McElveen
        AskWoody_MVP

        Wow. A lively conversation. As with all of the software on OlderGeeks.com, we always try to go as far as we can with vetting it. As with Distant Desktop, I had several email exchanges with Alex Heikkinen of Distant Software (Helsinki, Finland). They are a small company of about 10 employees. Their future plans with Distant Desktop is to keep it free for 2 years and then start charging for pro features later on. The freebie is just a way for them to gain a customer base not to achieve world domination through evil spying. Sophos, like any other AV company, gets it wrong sometimes. I don’t believe it is intentional, it’s just a complicated game of cat and mouse they have to play.

        If you have questions, contact Alex. His English is a bit broken because, Finland.

        support@distantdesktop.com

        -Deanna

        OlderGeeks.com

      • #2353642
        b
        AskWoody MVP

        As with Distant Desktop, I had several email exchanges with Alex Heikkinen of Distant Software (Helsinki, Finland). They are a small company of about 10 employees.

        Any idea why their website gives the impression they’re based in a skyscraper in Toronto, Canada?

      • #2354421
        leland
        AskWoody Plus

        Another program you can use as a backup for remote access is NoMachine (www.nomachine.com).  It supports multiple platforms and comes in free and commercial versions.  Last time I used it it was complicated to setup but I expect that has improved.

        I also use AnyDesk like many have mentioned here and it truly is great for unattended mode.  Another remote access program I have used is LiteManager.  It also supports multiple platforms.  I haven’t used it recently but at the time it was not too hard to setup.  It comes in a free and Pro version with the Pro being a paid version and both have unattended mode.

        A quick test of Distant Desktop shows you can set it up to start with Windows and set a permanent password.  So it has a psuedo unattended mode setup this way.  However there is no way to minimize to the tray without third party software.  It did feel pretty fast in my quick test; probably about 10% faster than Anydesk on screen scrolling.  However I did not use it long enough yet to make a definitive review.   Overall it can be useful though there is no way to alias connection addresses at the moment so you need to use your password manager or something similar to store those addresses.  One last thing if you close it your psuedo unattended mode ends.  Be sure to leave it running at all times when you need to use it.

        • This reply was modified 1 week, 3 days ago by leland.
      • #2354607
        leland
        AskWoody Plus

        One more note I tried 4t Tray Minimizer and it could not minimize Distant Desktop to the tray. So I submitted this as a request for a future version. Running as a service would be better but minimizing to the tray would be a good start.

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