Having to deal with multiple computers at work and home could be painstaking. You will have to have a bunch of important files in a portable drive or an online backup service like Dropbox to carry all your data. But what if there is just way too much data to be carried around or synced back to a cloud based service?
What if the data is too sensitive to carry around in thumb drives or to store in third party services? That’s when remote access comes to the rescue. Well known cloud computing company Wyse PocketCloud offers their PocketCloud app to securely access your desktop anytime and anywhere from your iOS (and Android) devices. Follow me after the fold to set up remote access to your desktop.
Wyse PocketCloud allows business professionals, system admins and end users to securely access their PC and virtual desktops remotely at their convenience. Once you install the desktop companion apps, you can carry your computing infrastructure on your palm. The companion app is a free download for both Mac and Windows. There is a lite version of the app available for free on iOS app store, but if you want to add more clients and to go ad free, the pro version will cost you $14.99.
One of the most important concerns when using a remote connection is security. Since there is a very good chance that you might be accessing sensitive business or personal information, it’s absolutely necessary to ensure that the connection is encrypted. If you aren’t satisfied with the level of security offered by the free version of PocketCloud, upgrade to the Pro version to avail RDP 256 bit and VNC 128 bit encryption.
Setting Up the Desktop
As I mentioned earlier, Wyse PocketCloud offers you free desktop companion clients for both Windows and Mac computers. And in both cases, the installation procedure is almost the same. At the end of a standard installation process, you will be asked to link you Gmail account for auto discovery. Now, unless you plan to take the roundabout road or access a VMware image or RDP, skip this step to enter the Advanced set up.
I chose to go with the quick setup as I wanted my setup to be a straightforward remote access. The app lets you use your existing Google Account for auto discovery. I entered my Google login credentials (for some reason, Ctrl V wasn’t working in my MacBook Pro, so right click and paste instead) and after a few clicks, the process was complete. If the username and password you entered are correct, all the requirements in the checklist will be ticked off. A Wyse PocketCloud icon shows up in the menu bar and you can change the preferences (port number, sleep options etc.) from there.
Accessing From iPad
At launch you will have to choose between the Quick and Advanced setup options. I logged in with the same Google account I set up the desktop client with. If you are willing share anonymous usage data with the app developers, accept their request in the following screen.
After a couple of minutes the app discovered my Windows 7 desktop and was ready to to be accessed remotely. I tapped on the listed desktop and instantly I was shown the login screen of my desktop. I thought it might take a while, but the app was fairly responsive.
Once you get into the system from the iPad, your session in the PC will be locked out. As soon as that happens, you will get full desktop access in your iPad screen. All my files including the ones on my desktop were still there. Why wouldn’t they be? After all the purpose of the app is ensure full blown desktop access remotely isn’t it?
I was able to move around the virtual desktop with ease and even though there was a slight lag while attempting to type, it is hardly noticeable. In fact this very paragraph was composed remotely on a Google Docs document I was working earlier in my Chrome browser.
I tried accessing all the folders and files and found it a bit annoying not being able to scroll by touching anywhere on the screen. You will have to stick to the scroll bars in the explorer for navigation.
For those who prefer to use the mouse, there is a toggle button that helps you alternate between left and right clicks. On top of this, there are dedicated sections in the app for combination of hot keys, numlock and arrow keys too!
I tried playing music, but for some reason the audio wasn’t working. The videos played fine, without too much lag or distortion, but still no audio though. Once you are done poking around, hit the Disconnect button to get out of the session. Now, if you login back to your desktop, you will find everything in the same state you have left earlier.
After playing around with Wyse PocketCloud I was floored by its performance and the app found itself in the first page (there are over five pages) of my homescreen. The free version is downright capable of handling all your remote desktop needs and the ads aren’t much of a distraction. There are a couple of improvements I would love to see in the future upgrades. First is the ability to use the touch surface to scroll anywhere in the screen. And second, the ability to retain the Aero Glass effects on my Windows 7!