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Symantec pcAnywhere 10.5
Remote pc and server connectivity application.

By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting
Tuesday, October 7, 2003; 3:00pm EST

Administrators of physically offsite web servers rely heavily on tools to allow reliable and fast remote connectivity for such things as daily server maintenance, configuring and file transferring. Symantec over the years has catered to this important need with its pcAnywhere remote connectivity product. Version 10.5 is no exception to a long standing history of successful versions, and provides all the contemporary features an administrator could possibly need.

Establishing contact with a remote server, or being a host server is simple, using the clean layout of the application interface. A single window with remote servers represented by icons allows for fast operation. Being a host is as simple as allowing pcAnywhere to run as an NT Server service in the background, or ran manually. Configuration and preference settings are extensive yet easy to manage. An optimization wizard lets you get the most out of your connection for better responsiveness.

Once connected with a server, you are able to take complete control over the system as if you were standing directly in front of the physical box, whether you have a low or broadband connection. Features such as ColorScale and host optimization allow for responsive and accurate remote screen replication even under somewhat poor connections. Security has also been addressed and your connection can be encrypted at various levels and protocols. Account authentication can be internal pcAnywhere security and or NT security.

It was actually quite incredible to see such a fast screen refresh rate, with the mouse cursor accurately matching your remote movements. Pull down menus, tables and other such data populated quickly with little lag time. Sending and receiving text and graphics between the two machines using the clipboard transfer came in handy numerous times. And even most drawn or photo graphics displayed well with exception to some Java dependent programs we tested which came out slightly distorted in colour reproduction. Our only other complaint is that over a number of months testing, there were extremely rare cases where the host server would not respond to our requests for connection and the service was needed to be restarted.

In addition to being able to take control of the remote screen, file transferring is another important component of this application. Similarly to Windows File Manager, dragging and dropping files for transfer to and from the host is simple. Routine file transfers can be automated via use of batch processing and directories can be synchronized by a single button click. SpeedSend technology ensures speedy transfers of files by selectively transferring only data which has changed. The technology in the real world proved to swiftly move file transfers along and was a preferred method over old style FTP utilities.

The software is designed for Windows 9x, Me, NT, 2000, XP and installation generally requires little resources. A Windows NT or 9x installation requires a Pentium processor, 32MB memory, 30MB drive space. While Windows 2000 is slightly more with a 133MHz Pentium processor and 64MB memory. Server performance was not impacted by the host component sitting in memory, resources consumed are minimal, and security features make it little to no threat in a security point of view. It is available at most bricks and mortar, online computer stores and the Symantec web site. It retails for $179.95US, and upgrading from a previous version is full price with incentives such as rebates.

Overall we really felt we could depend on pcAnywhere 10.5 to keep in touch with our servers. As an administrator, it posed no threat to servers in terms of resource usage, security or stability. As a user, it represented a fast, responsive and versatile tool to do all those daily things needing to be done.

About The Author
Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.


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