Inevitably, there will come a time in your life when you have to manage your parent’s computer remotely. There’s nothing more frustrating for both parties than trying to explain what to do over the phone. The best way to manage a parent’s computer remotely is to setup a remote desktop client and configure the computer so you can access it to perform updates and fix anything that goes wrong.
There are computing philosophies they will need to embrace to accomplish this:
- They will no longer run as admins on their computer.
- They are no longer going to use their ISPs email.
- They are going to have to get into the habit of storing data in the cloud.
The main objective is to help keep your parent’s computer secure and running in your absence, and if that fails, be able to get the machine back to a known good state so they can resume using the PC.
Setting Up A Remote Desktop Client
There are many different clients you can use to manage your parent’s computer remotely. TeamViewer is a popular choice because it’s free, easy to use and allows you to easily transfer files over the Internet.
The whole purpose behind managing a parent’s computer remotely is not to prevent them from doing things on their PC. It’s about setting their PC up in such a way that they will be better protected and they will easily be able to recover in the event of an emergency. Both parties will need to install TeamViewer.
Once done, ask your parents for their session ID and password. TeamViewer will then connect with their computer. You will be able to navigate through their PC just as if you were sitting in front of it. Here are some of the things you might want to do after establishing a connection with them:
Be sure they’re running as a Standard User. By default, users operate as Administrators, which is dangerous. As administrators, your parents can accidentally delete system files or inadvertently click a link in an email that will cause malware to be installed on their system. If either of those things happen, your parents can lose access to the Internet and you.
Using their current admin account, create a new user via the control panel and then allow that new user to have admin rights. Create a password and share it with your parents. They should have the password in case they ever want to install something if you’re not around. Once done, log out of your parent’s account and have them log in to the new Administrator account to test it. Once there, have them reconnect with you via TeamViewer. You can then go into the user accounts area and demote their original account to a Standard user. Doing it this way allows them to keep their current profile and their data. Log out of the admin account and let then log into their Standard user account. You now have a admin account on the computer of which you know the name and password.
Create a Gmail Account For Your Parents
If your parents use their ISP email address, try and convince them to switch over to a centralized email account. Gmail is a great choice because they do a good job filtering phishing and SPAM emails. If your parents ever decide to change ISPs they will still have access to their email. You can even setup Gmail to forward mail from their previous account to their new account, so they won’t have to worry about not getting email from old contacts.
Once they have a Gmail account they can take advantage of Google Drive, a free cloud storage solution that syncs with their computer once installed. In the event the computer goes down, they will still have their data offsite that they can access from any computer.
Install An Alternative Web Browser
While they don’t have to use it, installing a secondary web browser will ensure they can still get to the web in the event IE goes down. You can still transfer files to their computer using TeamViewer, but it will be more convenient if there is a second browser available to get to the Web. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are both great options for a secondary web browser.
Reimaging A Computer Remotely
In a worse case scenario, you can reimage the computer remotely using a program called Macrium Reflect. You can learn how to setup a disk image here using the free version of Macrium Reflect. It involves making a compressed disk image of the C drive that you can store on an external drive or elsewhere on the computer. Using the instructions, you will create bootable media that allows you to select and restore the image you create. You can reimage the computer remotely and, once done, your parent’s computer will be back to pristine condition.
Alternative Ways For Parent’s To Access The Internet
Truth is, your parent’s may not even need a standard computer. If they primarily use their computer for browsing the web, checking emails and doing light word processing, they can likely get away with a Chromebook or tablet. A Chromebook is a laptop running the Chrome OS. They typically cost less than $300 dollars. The primary difference between this and a normal laptop is it is strictly an Internet device. Applications and data live in the cloud, so it’s much less likely they will download something that damages their files or Operating System.
In conclusion, you can remotely manage your parent’s computer as long as they’re willing to give you the ability to do so. As a result, their computer will be more secure and their data will be safe. More importantly, everyone will have piece of mind knowing you can remotely access their computer to perform maintenance and fix minor issues as they arise.