Mikogo: Share your screen and/or access a PC remotely

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Mikogo is a free, browser-based screen sharing and remote computer access platform for Windows. It allows you to create virtual meetings/webinars where any of the participant’s screens can be shared, to define which applications can or cannot be accessed remotely, and to instantly share files with participants, all without the need to configure firewalls, ports, and routers etc.

Say you want to demonstrate to your friend in another town how you perform a certain trick with Photoshop, or say you want to send your mother in a different time zone a really good freeware antispyware program and install for her on the spot. Mikogo will allow you to do all of the above.

I work in a company here in Seattle that’s been merged with another one on the east coast, and a few days ago I had to give a presentation “virtually” to a group of my colleagues back east. A conference call was arranged for the audio part, but what was needed was a platform whereby I could share my screen with multiple PCs on the other side of the continent. This being the business world, we used an expensive proprietary software, but I nonetheless started researching easy ways this could be done for free and found and tested Mikogo.

Once you download and install this program, you will have to create an account and log in. What’s really cool is that if screen sharing/broadcasting is all you need you audience on the other side would not need to create accounts or install software (they do, however, need to download and run a single no-install executable). Moreover, all interaction happens through the browser and there are no firewalls or routers to configure, no IP addresses to investigate and ports to open or close. Here are more notes on this program:

  • How to share your screen: once you launch your Mikogo account and log in, right click on the Mikogo icon in the system tray and select “Start meeting”. You will be provided with a meeting ID (a kind of password) that others could use to view your screen. Once you have your meeting up and running, you can easily switch presenter to view another user’s screen rather than them seeing yours (subject to their acceptance, of course). Meeting limited to 10 participants.
  • How others can view your screen: all your audience members need to do is go to the Mikogo website and click on “join meeting” which will download a small executable (approx 680K) that they can run and enter the meeting ID into. This will instantly open a browser window with your own shared screen displayed in it. They can also switch to broadcasting their screen or controlling another desktop without the need for any further download. Once the meeting is over, they can simply delete the executable and the config file that it creates (in the same directory in-which it is placed).
  • Remote access: allows you to asume control of the remote computer’s keyboard and mouse. What’s worth mentioning here is that Mikogo maintains a list of programs that you can check/uncheck to enable remote access. Performance is a is a little bit sluggish, which is typical for browser based remote access I think (e.g. Yuuguu’s performance was about the same). I would be interested in a comparing remote access performance for freeware VPN solutions; if you know about this or if you use a remote access platform whose performance you like please let us know in the comments.
  • Security: according to the devleopers “every bit of information that is transmitted between Mikogo users during a meeting is encrypted via a 256-Bit AES end-to-end encryption”. And as mentioned above a user needa a meeting ID to be able to join a meeting, and if you start a meeing you can at any point decide to “lock” it in order to prevent anyone from entering after that point.
  • File sharing: offers a very handy file sharing option which is surprisingly fast.
  • Portability: you can run Mikogo from a USB. See this page.
  • Memory use: a mere 10 megs or so in the background.
  • Privacy policy: the connection between computers is relayed through the Mikogo servers, which means that in theory Mikogo has access to what you broadcast. I did not find any privacy policy in the Mikogo site, but in truth I am not worried about it.

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The verdict: although there exists a number of free VPN solutions, the reasons I like this one are (a) avoids the need to configure firewalls, routers, ports, etc, because it is entirely browser based, (b) avoids the need for others to install software and create accounts to see your screen remotely, and (c) works very well and does what it sets out to do. I might also mention that I am grateful that Mikogo does not include an IM client or, say, internet based teleconferencing, which would have made it unnecessarily bloated. If you want these get Pidgin for a fantastic freeware global IM client and LoudTalks for teleconferencing over VOIP.

A video demonstration of Mikogo:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=7c1KFjzFd5o

Version Tested: 1.0.070713

Compatibility: WinAll. Not sure about browser requirements if any.

Go to the Mikogo home page to download the latest version (approx 980K).