Remobo: instant VPN, filesharing, and remote desktop control

Remobo is free app that can connect computers instantly via VPN. Based on a P2P structure, it allows you to connect to and control your computer remotely, to access your files from anywhere, and to run any application between computers on top of Remobo.

It also offers secure file shares via private BitTorrents as well as the ability to share your entire music collection online using Remobo and Opentape. Remobo is multiplatform Windows and Mac OSX.

Yet another foray into freeware VPN/screen sharing/file sharing apps (e.g. Mikogo, gBridge, TeamViewer, and Crossloop). I recently had an email exchange with one of the members of the team behind Remobo where I asked him what makes Remobo noteworthy, and would like to paraphrase the reasons he cited as follows:

  • Instant: connect easily and instantly without the complex configuration that is needed with traditional VPN software. If you have internet access you will be able to connect.
  • Secure: all traffic is secured using “industry standard encryption”. Any files/folders are shared using encrypted private bittorents (even your ISP cannot see what is being shared).
  • P2P: Remobo uses a unique architecture built on P2P technology rather than a client/server model, which makes it (a) easy to install/launch, and (b) promises better performance.
  • Share your entire music collection: the Remobo team provides a tutorial on how to use the open source Opentape in conjunction with Remobo to do this (note that you will need to install PHP/MySQL). Note that I did not try this personally.

Here are some observations on Remobo having installed and used it:

  • Remobo Screenshot - the main interfaceThe user interface: is simple and straightforward and is by far one of the best for an application of this kind (see image to the right).
  • Ease of use: simply install and run (see “Instant” above). You will need to create an online Remobo account, though. Once installed, you will find it easy enough to figure out how to use the app on your own (see “the user interface” above).
  • Performance: the Remobo site makes reference to their P2P technology as helping attain better performance. My experience is that it is generally quite good; it felt to me that Remobo remote PC control worked slightly better than others I have tried, although this is purely subjective. I will mention that when initially starting it took a while before the visual representation of the remote desktop kicked into gear – it was pixellated at first the displayed color quality was wrong.
  • Private torrents: you can open these in your regular torrent client (I use Deluge). You will be able to share files and folders. For the latter it is possible to download selected, specific contents of shared folders using your BitTorrent client; however, note that any additions to the shared folder that happen after the torrent is created (when it is first shared) will, obviously, not appear in the shared torrent.
  • Windows file sharing: aside from private torrents, you can use Remobo to access folders shared using Windows shared folders (which is be the better way to go if the folders you are sharing for frequently-changing folders).
  • Third party applications: you can easily connect your apps on top of Remobo. All you need to do is add that application in the Remobo interface (on both computers) and away you go (allows for gaming over LAN,
  • Notes on installation: the default Remobo install will add BitTorrent 5.2.0 to your computer, so if you already have a Torrent client make sure to uncheck that box during installation.
  • Control: Remobo will allow you to specify exactly which files to share with which of your contacts and

Wish list (or how this program can be even better):

  • Access without requiring Remobo on both ends: I’ve received word that the developers of this software are working on an option to access a PC running Remobo without requiring that the app be installed on both ends. Keeping my fingers crossed
  • Beta software: despite being in beta this is remarkably stable software (from what I have read in various places it seems that it has recently made strides in that aspect). However, there are still some kinks to iron out: e.g. once I logged in as user A and told it to remember me, I could not for the life of me find a way to log in as user B. I also experienced a Remobo crash in the remote computer I was trying to access while testing this app at one point.

The verdict: considering the many freeware programs that provide similar functions to this (some of which mentioned above) we are certainly spoilt for choice; I think Remobo is solid app that for me personally is one of my favorites. I really like Remobo for several reasons (a) it is easy to setup and get connected pretty much anywhere without hassle, (b) has a simple, intuitive interface, (c) I like the idea of private BitTorrent sharing, (d) I like the ease of which you can access folders shared in Windows remotely, (e) I am giving the developers the benefit of the doubt that their P2P technology provides better performance than other similar apps, and (f) Remobo is multiplatform Windows and Mac.

Version Tested: 0.13.0

Compatibility: Windows 2000, XP, 2003 and Vista; Mac OSX.

Go to the Remobo home page to download the latest version (approx 12.2 megs).


 
 
 
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  • chihua

    I’ve been using Remobo for a few months now and really like its simplicity. Before Remobo, I have to use Hamachi + Skype or Netmeeting to tell my mom how to set things up on her side so that I can diagnose her computer problems remotely. Now all I have to do is to have her install & login Remobo, and accept my incoming request to remote control her computer via VNC that’s bundled with Remobo.

    It’s a pretty decent free program, and I wish to see more built-in applications that’s bundled with Remobo.

  • http://www.remobo.com Gee

    Hello, I am part of the Remobo team… thanks for the review! We are glad you found it a useful app and are working hard to implement these wish list features as well as some others to get this out of beta :-)

  • anonymous.tester

    might be nice but every such tool needing online creation of an account though, will prevent many IT-related people (incl. myself) even take a look at this tool. Too bad.

  • etan

    great post! I thought your recent writeup on gbridge was cool, but I just tried this and it’s even better. Plus it works on my MacBook which is a def plus. The private Bittorrent looks like it could come in handy sharing large files just with friends etc

  • Peter

    Just install it, such a cool tool.. now I can checkin /checkout code from home, let along VNC to the server in the office. Accessing control would only be a matter adding/removing contacts, like that with skype or MSN. Any plan to have it work on linux?

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  • Fred Thompson

    I agree with the comment about registered accounts and it needs to allow private handshaking to give straight connections. ShowMyPC supports private SSH servers to allow this, so does UltraVNC (though the download links are currently broken on their site.) TeamViewer, Hamachi, etc., etc., etc. all have the weakness of “we’re secure and promise not to look.” Uh…yeah. That must be the IT version of, “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”

  • http://www.freewaregenius.com Donald Smith

    I think that this program will be very useful

  • Derek

    looks great! i’ll look forward to trying it when there’s a linux version

  • http://www.thewindowsfix.com TheFix

    Looks like an awesome application. I’ve used Hamachi as well, but I’m the biggest fan of LogMein.com.

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  • rjerryc

    Looks like a great program BUT it will not work under Vista 64 bit! The forums said they are working on the problem (driver) but nothing as of today.

  • Jake

    Hmm, I agree with a couple of others.
    As soon as I see an account must be created I move on. The only reason to require account logins is to spy.

  • MikeS

    I’ve been using hamachi, then turn to remobo, but now I turn to NeoRouter, that’s faster than the others and use the similar tech. The more important is I can have my own server setup, void using hamachi or remobo relay server when p2p cannot be created.

  • Roger

    I hope I’m not out of line here but I’d like to make a plug for (and ask for opinions on) Proxy Networks. Their remote access software is pretty useful, though not free. I don’t know if their trial membership counts. My company has been using them for a while now and their security is what really keeps us on them. I know it’s an Enterprise Level software compared to the individual software shown here but I was hoping you guys could comment on this. Samer – have you tried this before? Have any of your readers. Let me know what your thoughts are. Thanks.

  • Elliot Housse

    Roger – I haven’t tried Proxy Networks yet but I will now. Thanks for the link. You did, however, make a mistake. You didn’t add http to the front of your url. This means the browser can’t read it (that’s why it’s not working). It should look like this: remote access software. Well, my work here is done. Off to save the world!

  • http://www.proxynetworks.com remote control software

    Hey Roger and Elliot Housse!
    Remember Proxy is not a VPN, that is a big difference
    Thanks,

  • http://www.remotedesktopcontrol.net/ Remote Desktop Control

    Thank for good review software.

  • Tylwe

    I can’t go to remoboes website, when i download remoboe from alternative website, it dosent log me in ( says like could not connect, or wrong pass when i KNOW the pass is right) and i cant change pass cause i cant get in site

  • bartman2589

    For those that are saying that the only reason to require users to create an account is to spy, You really must have no clue about the fact that they are trying to make it as easy as using an instant messenger client instead of having to perform complicated setup and having to find out your IP address and then send that to the person on the other end and so on and so on…. The beauty of this approach is that it is much simpler than just about any other remote desktop approach (including Microsoft’s own builtin remote desktop client which doesn’t usually work well with firewalls even if you do grant it permissions to work through them!). Next thing you’ll tell me the only reason to create an account with instant messenger clients is so that the hosting company can spy on you. Grow up you paranoid freaks!

  • Kim

    I downloaded Remobo on my desktop and laptop for remote access. When I load the program on each computer it shows connection (buddies are not grayed out) but I am unable to connect. I’ve tried Chrome, IE, Firefox, firewall disabled and not disabled, you name it and all I get is ‘Page cannot be found”. Also I tried using IP address and username.remote.com. Also I went into Windows XP security to allow access to the current IP addresses. Running on frustration. Anyone know of a solution? Thanks

    Kim