NetSupport Manager 12.7 review: On-prem perfection
Businesses looking for the best on-premises remote support solution money can buy will love NetSupport Manager (NSM). Now entering its third decade, NSM has long been a favourite thanks to its remarkable range of support features and its convenient control software, which can be hosted on a Windows or Mac desktop of your choice.
It's also great for supporting remote offices: NetSupport's free Gateway component easily links sites together, with four encryption options to choose from, including 256-bit AES. And within the local network, NetSupport's PIN connect system makes it effortless to get connected: the technician and user simply enter the same unique PIN to create an instant connection.
If you're concerned about security, you can rest easy. NSM offers plenty of access-control features, including session passwords, Active Directory integration, smart card support and profiles to limit the tools specific technicians can access.
Platform support is excellent, too. As we've mentioned, the management software will run on either Windows or macOS, and naturally you can support clients running these operating systems, as well as Linux and Chrome OS systems.
The installation process isn't the same on all platforms, though. After loading the suite on a Windows host, it took just a few moments to scan our network and push the client out to our Windows 10 test systems. Alas, Mac deployment was less slick: we had to download the software manually, copy it onto each MacBook and run the installer by hand.
Still, once your clients are set up, support staff will be bowled over by the range of tools at their disposal. They can passively view a client's screen, share control or lock out the user and take over the PC completely. In addition to remotely launching applications on the client, you can open remote Command Prompt or PowerShell sessions, reboot the PC or switch it off, and take part in a text or audio chat. File transfers can be easily initiated too, and the software can produce impressively thorough inventories of both hardware and software: we were able to audit each client's hardware components, browse all installed software and check on running applications, processes and services.
If you have a diverse population of computers to support, another thing you'll appreciate is the Control console's dynamic sorting function, which automatically groups clients into categories based on their OS, hardware class (such as tower or rack) and geographical location. Selecting a group brings up all members in the opposite pane, and you can even watch their screens in real-time. From here, firing up a remote control session is as easy as clicking the quick-launch icon underneath the client's thumbnail. This loads the main View window, which shows the user's screen along with a ribbon bar across the top for quick access to all available support tools.
While NetSupport Manager might be mostly used for support, it also makes a fine training aid: you can mirror your Control screen to single or multiple clients, record system activity and replay the files to selected clients. There's a few neat new features in this latest version too, notably an option to capture client print jobs as PDF files. An update coming soon promises enhancements to the Gateway module, including load balancing, tighter access controls and facilities to export client lists.
SMEs that want to keep all their remote support services in-house will find NetSupport Manager an excellent choice. It's crammed with valuable features and is simple to deploy and use, while its perpetual licensing scheme makes it easy to control costs.