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Virtual Network Computing

review from ClifNotes, feedback from Juan in Costa Rica, Aug 2006, Permalink


Juan wrote me with the following question ...


Hi, Clif!


Thanks a lot for your GREAT newletter! Some years ago I used a utility or program that let me share my desktop screen, in real time, with all other users in my network. I am having trouble to find a free utility like this and I forgot the one I used before. Can you help with some advice?


Thanks a lot anyway,



Costa Rica


I wrote back to Juan with a recommendation for either of the two freeware VNC (Virtual Network Computing) applications on this page at Snapfiles. He was very happy to be reunited with the software he'd forgotten the name of.


So, what is VNC, and how does it let you share your computer over a network? Here's what WikiPedia says about it ...


Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a desktop sharing system which uses the RFB (Remote FrameBuffer) protocol to remotely control another computer. It transmits the keyboard presses and mouse clicks from one computer to another relaying the screen updates back in the other direction, over a network.


VNC is platform-independent: a VNC viewer on any operating system can connect to a VNC server on any other operating system. There are clients and servers for almost all operating systems and for Java. Multiple clients may connect to a VNC server at the same time. Popular uses of the technology include remote technical support, and accessing files on your work computer from your home computer.


VNC was originally developed at AT&T. The original VNC source code is open source under the GNU General Public License, as are many of the variants of VNC available today.


I've used VNC for years on and off. I used to play games on my PC and share my desktop with my brother-in-law when he lived in Texas. I live in Ohio and he could see my Computer screen just like he was looking over my shoulder and he could also move the mouse around and make his moves during the game. Pretty cool, eh?




You can use VNC for lots of other stuff, but I think the best use is to help out people on PCs when they have a problem.


I have a friend, Gary, who runs a web service for helping people with their PC problems and he uses VNC when he has no other way to help them. It sure saves travel time and expense. So, if you ever have a really tough problem, check out Gary's site at InternetFixes. The first question you ask him is free, and he has an awesome free database of past fixes for PC problems.


Here is a link to VNC programs and tutorials on how to use them.