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Teamviewer struck again (beware)

remote_desktop
vnc
#1

Well, it finally happened to me… again (A warning to others)

I had been a happy “free” personal licenced user of Teamviewer for 5+ years now. Its a great product in terms of performance and features for maintaining all of my various computers and operating systems from Linux, windows, and MacOS that I keep in my home. It even worked from a rasberry pi like a thin client. I could help maintain my kids computers and minecraft servers with it, and even help them with their homework when I was traveling, able to see their screen at the same time.

Nothing that I was aware of, violated their terms of the personal use license. All computers were owned by me and kept in my home save for when I took a laptop or cell phone for travel using their app. I did get flagged 2 years ago erroneously, and I suspect it was because I was remote connected to my daughter’s computer from a hotel room to help her with her homework. Back then they had a fairly straightforward ticketing system for reporting issues and someone got back to me the next day and removed the flag after manually reviewing my logs.

Fast forward to yesterday… I was out and about at lunch and wanted to check on the progress of a backup sync operation on one of my windows systems. I launch the app on my phone and am greeted with a big (Commercial Use Detected) error and now I’m limited to about 30 seconds connect time before it cuts me off on all my systems. :angry:

I went to their customer service links and discovered that I can no longer submit tickets as a “free” license customer and am restricted to asking questions in the forums :nauseated_face: which are full of people in the same boat as me with no way to contest the situation and no real answers from TeamViewer staff.

So now I’m left in rough situation. I get that I can’t really complain since it was a free service they were providing but the way they handled it was very poor. I even recommended this software at work for which we purchased (very expensive) licenses to be able to help support our international staff where VPN and other network blocks are in place causing most remote software to fail. We were thinking about possibly expanding this to a larger user base but after this experience, I think I’ll be looking at alternatives going forward.


Now, for the main reason I started this post, I’m obviously looking for alternatives for free, personal use at home (work is another situation I don’t want to get into here). I’m not interested in going with another closed source company that can arbitrarily cut me off without warning no matter how good their software is, I want control.

I have a VPN setup on my network so I’m not worried about how to access remotely. I would prefer phone app support. I’m not interested in a monthly fee although I might consider a one time purchase or a very low yearly fee if the software is worth it.

Unfortunately after a brief search, I’m afraid my only option for cross platform support is VNC… an aging, slow standard that only has a fraction of the features I was hoping to have in 2019…

Anyone know of any other great alternatives? Preferably OSS?

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#2

I am basically in the exact same boat. I have been using AnyDesk, which works well enough, but is not great.

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#3

I also started receiving this message and got fed up with seeing it. And I tried a couple of other alternatives. I switched to nomachine after seeing a few posts on Reddit. That they aren’t open source doesn’t bother me, though they used to be. It’s free to use. And no horrible popups!

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#4

I wonder if there is a still open fork of it. That is an incredibly scummy thing to do, leech off the community to bootstrap a solution then take it private and do what they will with it.

EDIT: May have jumpped the gun, looking into it now.

Google Opensourced (GPL v2) a version of it called Neatx but it seems to be very out of date now, like most of the alternatives based on it.

There are various forks making use of the opensource core NX stuff, but all are linux based from what I see though I am not looking very deeply.

The NX core is opensource and NoMachine Sells proptietary interfaces and support. not nearly as scummy as I thought.

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#5

Have you tried chrome remote desktop? I just came across it yesterday and my initial impression is pretty good.

https://remotedesktop.google.com/

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#6

I did like Chrome remote desktop for remote support for end users but for connecting to servers/vms etc. it requires end user interaction to enable the connection. Or at least it did last time I used it.

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#7

The service makes a weird distinction between “remote support” and “remote access”. “Remote support” requires manual authentication as you’ve said, but “access” doesn’t.

Click on “Remote access” on the top of the website, then “Set up remote access”. This will allow you to set a PIN to connect without any interaction.

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#8

I can’t suggest other software to use as I have yet to find one I am completely satisfied with. My current solution is VPN and using my IP to trick local connection rather than using TeamViewer IDs.

It seems that the commercial usage detection now has a separate form to be filled out rather the usual submit a ticket system.
https://www.teamviewer.com/en/support/commercial-use-suspected/

I really wish the TeamViewer guys would just give consumers the opportunity to buy it at a reasonable price so we don’t have to deal with the stupid pop ups

If you still need alternative suggestions, here is what I’ve tried:

  • Anydesk - This one is pretty much teamviewer with a different skin, it works and does what I need, but pricing is horrible as it pretty much follows the same model as teamviewer.
  • NoMachine - I like it, but it feels wonky in places and sometimes can be overly complicated to get set up
  • Splashtop - I’ve liked this during the time I used it, but TeamViewer is still much better overall, I don’t remember why i dropped this service, but I did, likely because it was missing some functionality I seriously wanted or something, I don’t remember. Pricing is okay…
  • Remote Utilities - This shit would be lovely if the connection could be more stable, I’ve set up a remote utilities command servers and what not and it just isn’t good enough to use over the WAN. On LAN it sometime shows the same issues.
  • Google chrome remote desktop - Ehh, it never sat well with me so I dropped it quite early.
  • Windows Remote Desktop - Only used this at work or over VPN.
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#9

Well I have an update.

I just received an e-mail from TeamViewer support team and they’ve decided to re-instate my “free” status based on their reviewing my case… I must have somehow got a message through when I initially tried to contact them, but I don’t recall being successful. I did submit user feedback from the client itself though and let them know I wasn’t happy.

I really did like TeamViewer since it really has lots of great features and performance is good. I’m not happy that I was down for this long and falsely accused through no fault of my own. The whole experience has left a sour taste in my mouth.

I also worry a bit about the privacy and security factor of such a service, especially after I feel like my trust has been broken. I am placing a lot of trust in them to potentially have the kind of access such a tool could provide them on my network. A big factor in why I’m not comfortable with Google chrome remote desktop. I trust Google even less with my data.

For now I’m hobbling by with VNC over VPN.

I’m intrigued by NoMachine, however it looked like the free license only allows just two computers to connect… did I mis-read that?

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#10

Do not trust. Never! Of course, we all trust someone to some extent otherwise we would literally not be able to use computers.

In your place, however, I would think hard about the action plan since you are using remote access on so many machines. One attack vector and more than one of your machines can be compromised at the same time. Not so long ago there were many such attacks via MSP and their software for remote management of business clients.

The old rule, don’t expose yourself to the world. Encrypt traffic regardless of the software. Restrict access to third-party servers.
Maybe think about building a network based on ZeroTier.
https://www.zerotier.com


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