PCAnywhere 11.0 Learns New Tricks

Symantec's venerable tool set is easier to use but faces stiff competition.

PCAnywhere 11.0

Symantecs venerable remote control tool, first released in 1985, is now at Version 11.0 and is outfitted with several useful new utilities. New deployment tools, user interface and configuration policy management give even more control to IT trouble-shooters than did previous versions. However, PCAnywhere faces stiff competition from the remote control utilities now included in Microsoft operating systems. Symantec can be reached at www.symantec.com.
















  • PRO: Large user base familiar with product operation; effective deployment tools; streamlined user interface.
  • CON: Windows-only support; needs more integration with inventory tools to assist trouble-shooters.

149 Microsoft Corp. operating systems included remote control utilities 149 Vector Networks PC-Duo 149 RealVNCs VNC

Symantec Corp.s PCAnywhere 11.0 is much easier to deploy than previous versions and supports complex file transfer commands. It also sports new policy management features, enhanced security protocols and a completely remade user interface.

In eWEEK Labs tests, we found that PCAnywhere 11.0, which shipped last month, is still among the best products for help desks that need to remotely trouble-shoot desktop PCs and servers.

However, competitors such as RealVNC Ltd.s VNC (Virtual Network Computing), which is freely available under the GNU General Public License from www.realvnc.com/download.html, are tempting alternatives. For example, PCAnywhere is still a Windows-only product, whereas VNC supports a variety of Unix and Linux systems as well as Windows.

Other products, including Vector Networks Ltd.s PC-Duo, provide easier integration with system configuration and inventory tools than does PCAnywhere.

Symantec provides a host of security and disk imaging tools, but IT managers should be looking for more inventory management and more integration with prevalent inventory utilities. As desktop utilities mature, we think IT managers can strategically improve desktop services by reducing the number of single-purpose tools they use.

Despite PCAnywhere 11.0s Windows-centricity, its still an impressive product. Several new distribution utilities make it much easier to deploy; a large number of IT technicians are already familiar with PCAnywheres operation.

Training costs associated with using PCAnywhere will likely go down, too, because of improvements such as the new connect-and-deploy feature, which quickly connects to systems that dont already have PCAnywhere software installed.

The connect-and-deploy utility was a snap to use, and we were able to reduce the administrative load on our network by designating machines in each subnet of our test network that acted as staging servers to distribute the PCAnywhere software.

For smaller enterprises or large organizations without support at branch offices, the connect-and-deploy feature will likely be a quick and cost-effective way to get PCAnywhere installed.

Longtime users of PCAnywhere are in for a pleasant shock at the extent of its interface changes. Symantec has reorganized and streamlined host and remote data along with configuration information. For example, the new connections that we made to monitor the hosts in our network were neatly organized by groups. It was also easy to see which communication methods were available for particular hosts and the status of these connections.

PCAnywhere 11.0s new policy management utility let us determine which PCAnywhere components were available and how they could be changed. First, we imported the group policy snap-in to the MMC (Microsoft Management Console). We then used the MMC to control more than 25 aspects of how users accessed and utilized PCAnywhere.

These new tools took only a few minutes to implement, and most shops should be up and running with many of the additional features in a matter of hours or days.

Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant is at cameron_sturdevant@ziffdavis.com.