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Remote Possibilities

Scarcely a day goes by in the service depot here at MCR that we don’t receive a call which goes something like this:

Caller: “I got this scary message on my computer that says it was from Microsoft. It said I would lose everything if I didn’t call this number…”

MCR Tech: “Did you call the number?”

Caller: “Yes.”

MCR Tech: “Did they take control of your computer?”

Caller: “Yes. They said I had viruses and errors and I needed to pay hundreds of dollars to fix it! So, I hung up and called you.”

MCR Tech: “I’m afraid that was a scam. Bring it down to the shop and we’ll get you taken care of.”

The rise of remote support technology has unfortunately been a boon to scammers pretending to be something they’re not (See our blogpost, “Microsoft Calling” for more information on support scams and how to avoid them). This is doubly frustrating to legitimate IT companies because it spreads skepticism among the public about remote support solutions in general. Advances in internet broadband and other technology have enabled tech companies to provide a wide array of software support to customers without requiring them to physically bring a computer to their location. The hurdles faced by IT companies in implementing remote support solutions for consumers, beyond the mistrust and fear generated by scammers, include educating users on what remote support is and what it can be used for.

What do we mean by “Remote Support” anyway?
Remote support is any service or software support that can be done via internet connection, with the Technician and the end user in two separate locations.

Are there different kinds of remote support?
In short, yes. Remote support can be provided at several different levels with different capabilities. Network administrators can control things like updates, “patch management” (pushing specific software and code to a set of computers) and antivirus rules. Managed antivirus solutions allow IT professionals to install an antivirus program that reports to the technician if a user’s computer encounters malware or viruses. Other kinds of monitoring software allow a technician to monitor the performance and health of a computer and “desktop sharing” allows a tech to see what is on a user’s screen and control the computer to make necessary changes.

The Ethics of Remote Support
As with entrusting a technician at a brick and mortar store with your computer and the personal data stored inside, consumers should only consent to remote support services with companies and technicians they trust to safeguard their privacy. At any legitimate IT company, technicians will only remote into someone’s computer with the express knowledge and consent of the user. Many experts observe that misgivings and fear of privacy breeches have slowed the proliferation of the remote support service model.

What are the benefits?
The clear benefit to both the technician providing support and the customer is convenience. Small problems can be resolved as they arise, rather than a customer waiting for a catastrophic failure to bring a computer to a professional. Eliminating the need to have physical access to a computer saves time and money for both the customer and IT professional, lowering costs and raising efficiency. Best of all, users can get reliable, quality service in the comfort of their own homes.

What Can Be Fixed and What Can’t
Remote support is made possible by a reliable internet connection, so a computer must be able to power on and connect to the internet to be a candidate for this sort of service. It is ideal for tutorial work, software support, installation and tweaks to settings or security. Here at Mankato Computer Repair, we provide remote support to our business customers daily and it is estimated that up to 40% of issues fixed in the Personal Tech department could have been resolved remotely.

This Sounds Great But Who Does This Kind of Work? How Do I Find Someone I Can Trust?
Mankato Computer Repair offers a wide range of remote services to our business customers and we are proud to say that we have a solution to offer the same level of service and convenience to our Personal Technology clients. MCR Premier Care is a bundle of software that includes LiveDrive online backup to safeguard data, Webroot Enterprise antivirus which alerts our technicians if a client’s computer encounters malware and a remote agent which allows us to solve problems without requiring a client to bring their computer into the store. Premier Care members can simply call in when they encounter a problem or have a question and we will set up a time to remote into the computer a short time later and resolve the issue. Often it is the difference between having a day or two of downtime vs. a remote solution within a couple of hours. Premier Care customers have the peace of mind of knowing they are receiving support from local, trustworthy techs they can meet in person—and not from a faceless call center worker with unknown motivations located who-knows-where.