Every IT professional has had a case where, had they simply had access to a remote user’s system, they could have solved a problem in a fraction of the time it took them to do so without it. Going back and forth with a user over the phone and trying to visualize what they are experiencing on their end not only leaves room for error and misunderstanding, but it’s also frustrating and time consuming for all parties. To make remote user troubleshooting more efficient and help users get back up and running as quickly as possible, ControlUp Edge DX has created multiple ways to remotely access a user’s computer.
The feature in Edge DX that allows you access and help remote workers uses the same agent that it uses to gather information from the endpoint. This means that your users do not need to install any additional software or reconfigure the device’s firewalls, and that it supports Windows, macOS, Linux, and thin client OSes. To ensure the security and privacy of users, all traffic passed between the systems is fully encrypted.
In this blog, I will demonstrate how Edge DX technologies can be used to solve various user issues by remotely accessing a user’s desktop.
Today’s desktops are graphically oriented with most applications being graphically based. As such, being able to mirror an end-user’s experience can greatly reduce frustration when trying to resolve issues. Remotely viewing a user’s desktop can be used for mundane tasks, such as being able to help a user locate an item on the dashboard, viewing an application behaving in an unexpected manner, even just assisting them with using an application or if needed you can use keyboard and mouse interactions with a remote desktop to further investigate or solve an issue.
To do this select Remote Control from the Assist drop-down menu in the upper right of the dashboard after selecting the device. For the screen shots in this article, I am using Edge DX in its new dark mode.
Once a remote session has been instantiated you will be presented with a dialog that allows you to select the user and specify whether the user needs to consent to the session or not. If Ask for User Consent is selected, a message will appear on the user’s screen otherwise you will be directly connected to the remote desktop without having confirmation from the user.
An icon in the lower right of the screen alerts the user that their session is being monitored. Clicking the icon gives the remote user the option to end the remote session.
In the upper right of the remote console, you have the option to zoom in, take a screenshot, send the Ctrl-Alt-Del, and run an elevated command console on the remote system.
By enabling the Clipboard, you can copy text from the remote system to the local system. This is configurable and can be locked if needed to meet a company’s security policy.
If a desktop is locked when you initiate a remote session, you will be presented with the login screen. Selecting Ctrl-Alt-Del will send that command to the remote session so you can unlock or lock the desktop’s user session.
If you need to have a command line window in the remote console with elevated privileges, you can select Elevated Cmd, and one will be opened on the remote system.
This came in handy when I was trying to install OpenSSH on a remote user’s Windows 10 system. I sent them the command using Edge DX’s Send Message feature (see below), but they were unable to install it as their permission was limited. I opened a remote console to their desktop, clicked Elevated Cmd to start a new console on their machine and was able to install it.
Below shows the regular command window and one that was launched using Elevated Cmd (green background). You can see that commands could be executed in it that couldn’t be in a regular window. You can also see the message that I sent.
Tasks such as being able to help a user locate an item on the dashboard, viewing an application behaving in an unexpected manner or assisting a user with the usage of an application do not necessarily require keyboard and mouse connectivity and as such ControlUp offers Remote Shadowing.
When shadowing a session, as with Remote Control, you have the option to take snapshots of it and zoom in to a particular part of the screen. I find the snapshot feature useful when documenting issues as the snapshot is stored in the Downloads folder of the local, not remote system.
The zoom feature doesn’t make the remote desktop bigger, but it does provide a grid in the upper right corner that lets you display a section of the remote desktop in your viewing window. Zoom comes in handy in many situations; for example, when the remote desktop has dual monitors, when the resolution of the remote system differs from the system you are viewing, or when the window that you are viewing within the shadow session is too small. To demonstrate this, I decreased the size of my shadowing window. This produced a pickable 2 x 4 grid in the upper right corner that I could then use to navigate the remote desktop.
When you use shadowing and the remote desktop is locked, you are presented with the locked screen and cannot open it as commands such as Ctrl-Alt-Del are not passed to the remote system.
To exit a remote control or shadow session, just close the window.
Remote Control and Shadowing works with our Windows, macOS, Linux, IGEL and Stratodesk.
Remote Control and Remote Shadow can be enabled or disabled to meet the various corporate and governmental regulations and standards regarding privacy.
Viewing and interacting with remote desktop is useful when assisting users and solving issues but sometimes all it takes is a single command to resolve an issue; however, trying to talk a user through a longer command full of computer terminology (Which one is the backslash? What is a tilde? How do I open a command window with administrative privileges?) can create plenty of room for typos and can be a tiresome process for both the helper and the user. To assist with these quick-fixes, Edge DX has Run Command.
To use this feature click Run Command under the Actions drop-down menu.
This will bring up a pop-out dialog that will allow you to select whether you want to run the command as a user or with system privileges. For example, if you want to stop a printer spooler, which may require system privileges on a Windows system, you will select System from the Run As drop-down menu and enter net stop spooler in the Command Line text box.
As the Run command is not interactive, you will not get any feedback after running it, only a message stating that it was sent and that it may take a few seconds for it to run.
If you click the Device Events tab, you can verify that the command was sent to the device.
Run Command can also be run as a user that is logged onto the machine – this is useful when you have commands that need to have that user’s privileges or environment. Clicking the Show Window checkbox, which appears when you run a command as a user, will allow you to bring up a Windows application on the user’s desktop.
I used this in some interesting ways. For instance, you can start a Windows application (such as MS calculator) by entering its name in the text box. I have used this to display text files (e.g., logs, readme files, etc.) by entering notepad.exe c:\. In one case, a user was having a tough time using RDP to connect to a remote system, but I was able to launch the RDP client for them by entering: mstsc .exe /prompt /v .
It should be noted that certain commands, such as those that launch Control Panel applications, will not launch using the Show Window feature and will display an Error 193 message in Device Events.
While the examples above were used on a Windows desktop, Run Command works with our other supported platforms, such as macOS or Linux. The screenshot below shows it being used to stop the printer spooler on a Linux system.
Run Command is a great tool to use if you have a well-known issue and a well-known solution as it allows you to correct problems efficiently with minimal interruptions to the user.
Sending a single command to a device can correct a lot of problems, but in many (if not most) situations, helpdesk professionals need an interactive console to troubleshoot and correct issues. Many troubleshooting tools only offer a full monitor to interact with a user’s device. Yes, you can bring up a console in a remote monitor, but this can prove problematic in situations such as multi-monitor configurations, differing screen resolutions, and limited or less-than-ideal network connectivity. Remote Shell bypasses these issues by having a low-bandwidth command line console to a remote system
To access it, select Remote Shell from the Assist drop-down menu, and select if you want to connect as a logged-in user or system and click Start Remote Shell. A pop-out window will appear that contains the remote shell. From this window, you can execute any command as if you were using the local console.
In the example above, I had a user who was having issues with the audio on a Skype call. After starting a remote shell as system to the device, I started PowerShell, and displayed my user and host name. Thinking that they may be using the wrong audio device, I pulled up a list of audio devices and discovered they only had one audio device, so I knew that wasn’t their issue.
I then displayed the WLAN network they were attached to and listed the other Wi-Fi networks that were available to them. After discussing the issue with the user, they switched to a different Wi-Fi network and their issue was resolved.
The above features are very powerful and as such the initiation of Remote Shadow, Remote Control, Remote Shell and Run Command is retained. To view this information, select System Events from the Configuration drop-down menu and in the title column filter enter Remote for Remote Control and Shadow and Remote Shell events or enter Device Action for Run Command events.
If you would like to see all remote assistance events use the filter builder.
In the above examples, I showed you how to view and execute commands on a remote system, but sometimes you just need to send some information to a user or inform them of an upcoming event such as an application going offline. Edge DX enables this ability with Send Message, which can be found under the Assist drop-down menu.
This will bring up a dialog box that allows you to select the recipients and enter the message.
The message will then be displayed on the user’s desktop in a notification window.
If you are using the Devices 2.0 dashboard, you can select Assist, as well as other drop-down menus, by expanding the right arrow in a circle to the left of the device.
The Devices 2.0 dashboard allows you to select multiple devices for the message to appear on. This is extremely valuable when coupled with the filter feature as it enables you to be selective in the devices that need to be alerted to an event that may affect a user. In the example below, devices only tagged with Win10 will have a message sent to them.
Being able to assist users to either solve their issues or gather more information about the issue is the goal of help desk professionals, but you also need to be able to monitor systems so you can help identify the problem in the first place. With Edge DX, you get the capability to not only do this but also remotely assist the user in solving issues from the same dashboard.
If you have a well-known issue with a well-known fix, you can use Remote Command to send a single command to a remote system to correct it. For issues that require more in-depth analysis and investigation, Remote Shell supplies you with an interactive command line to a remote system.
Being that many applications and operating systems have a graphic bias, being able to see what a user is seeing and interact with their desktop is a godsend for help desk professionals. Using Remote Shadow is more effective than having a user try and explain over the phone what they see. If you want to have keyboard and mouse interactivity with a remote desktop Remote control will allow you to do so.
Being able to remotely assist users is one of the many powerful features in Edge DX. To read more about how Edge DX can help your company, visit ControlUp blog.
As Edge DX is a SaaS-based application, you can get it up and running in less than five minutes without having to implement any additional infrastructure. Contact our sales department to get more information about how you can get started with Edge DX.