Bringing the Office PC Out of the Office

Hands On

Symantec Corp. set a high standard for remote control products with pcAnywhere. Version 9.0 continues the trend -- except for feeble, prematurely attempted Windows CE implementation – of Symantec improving upon pcAnywhere with each successive release.

PcAnywhere lets users connect to an office PC to transfer files quickly and easily or to run applications while at home or on the road.

Because pcAnywhere controls the office PC from home, only the office PC needs to be updated and maintained. Support issues for home PC’s are eliminated from the jurisdiction of IT.

So, what’s new? Not much and everything.

If the features and performance of pcAnywhere 8.0 are enough for your needs, then this update doesn’t offer a compelling reason to upgrade. It may be just as good to keep running 8.0 with its assorted patches until the time comes to bite the bullet.

But for users that need better security, support for high-resolution displays, integration with SNMP, an improved file manager, support for LDAP directory servers, the ability to download files in the background, improved administration capabilities and support for Windows 2000 then a move to pcAnywhere 9.0 may be in order.

Testing

We tested pcAnywhere 9.0 on a variety of Intel processor systems. We first installed the software on a machine that we used for the host, and then on another for the client. The first thing we noticed was that the minimized host icon now appears in the system tray instead of the task bar. This clears a piece of clutter from the task bar and makes pcAnywhere look cleaner on a server.

PcAnywhere provides the ability to preconfigure installation and runtime settings as part of the remote installation procedure, along with centralized management and control, greater security, and LDAP directory services.

PcAnywhere requires a 486sx 25-MHz processor or higher, 16 MB of RAM -- though 20 MB is recommended -- 32 MB of hard-disk space, a CD-ROM drive -- double-speed or faster -- and runs on Windows 95/98 or NT 4.0

We ran everything we could think of against version 9.0. We ran pcAnywhere 9.0 as the client and pcAnywhere 8.0 as a host and vice versa. We even ran pcAnywhere Express, Symantec’s JAVA client, and pcAnywhere for Windows CE clients. In every case we were pleased with the performance and functionality of version 9.0.

The best performance was when we used the new pcAnywhere as both the client and the host. Testing over the Internet showed that version 9.0 is a big improvement over all previous versions. Symantec has added some speed optimization features that ensure the best possible performance at any connection speed, even over the Internet. PcAnywhere supports a wide range of connection methods, including standard modems, ISDN lines, TCP/IP and IPX/SPX networks, direct cable, and infrared.

Our favorite use of pcAnywhere is for remote server management. A remote control product such as pcAnywhere is the next best thing to actually being at the network.

We also were pleased with improvements in the deployment, security, and centralized management of pcAnywhere that are new or enhanced in this version. Most notably, the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in for pcAnywhere host administrator, which can be integrated with any MMC-based console, will prove useful with the release of Windows 2000.

As with all Symantec Products, pcAnywhere 9.0 ships with LiveUpdate!, Symantec’s online software updater for easy updates over the Internet.

pcAnywhere 9.0
Symantec Corp.
Cupertino, Calif.
(408) 253-9600
www.symantec.com
Price: $169.95 estimated retail price for two PC licenses. Upgrade from previous pcAnywhere versions, Laplink, ReachOut, Carbon Copy, Rapid Remote, and Timbuktu is $99.95.

+Greater support for high-resolution color displays
+Host security integration with LDAP directory servers
+Ready for Windows 2000

-No support for Alpha processor
-No support for connecting to Macintosh- or Unix-based hosts