Checking out SolarWinds DameWare Remote Support

I have been working in IT in some capacity for over 10 years and had heard of Dameware time and time again, but never played with it much.  Since my organization is a SolarWinds customer and I have worked with them on some projects in the past, I had to check out the Dameware product to see what it was all about.  Wow.  I have seen a few posts about this product being “RDP on steroids” and I think that gets pretty close.

Disclosure: I received an NFR license for DameWare DRS from SolarWinds to use in putting this review together.  SolarWinds was not involved in the creation of the post and had no editorial input.  I would like to thank SolarWinds for their help with questions and other things while I was putting the post together.

Where to begin?  DameWare Remote Support is a systems management application that allows the IT professional to access a number of operations on remote systems.  The systems visible on your network and in Active Directory will appear in DRS without much more than opening the application while connected to the network.

When Dameware Remote Support opens, no machines are selected as shown in figure A below.  The navigation pane on the left lists all of the found servers, workstations, Active Directory elements (if available).  In addition, you can specify favorite targets that you work with often.

Figure A

dameware fig A

Welcome to DameWare DRS

Note: The application works great in any size network and handles Active Directory very well, but for this review, the machine used in the application is my laptop.

When you select a computer in the navigation bar and expand it, the options available for that system are listed. The features available for a selected machine are:

  • Disk Drives
  • Event Log
  • Groups
  • Intel AMT
  • Open Files
  • Printers
  • Processes
  • Properties
  • RAS
  • Registry
  • Remote Command
  • Replication
  • Schedule
  • Search
  • Send Message
  • Services
  • Sessions
  • Shares
  • Shutdown
  • Software
  • System Tools
  • TCP Utilities
  • Users
  • Wake On LAN

Many of the management functions you might need on a guest system are available right within the application, without the need for remote desktop before using them. You can opt to install an agent for DRS for many of these management functions which will improve performance for the feature. While there are tons of features as mentioned above, the biggest feature I have found is the Remote Control feature(s).

Remote Control

Dameware uses a few different remote desktop methods to control or interact with another computer.  These are:

  • Mini Remote Control
  • Mini Remote Control RDP
  • RDP View – a view only connection to a remote computer using RDP

Both options for the mini remote control product use the same connection properties to access a remote machine.  I have found that the RDP option more closely resembles a traditional RDP session.  There are fewer features and buttons available for use, but interaction with a remote computer is very functional.

The mini remote control application has a rather long list of features, some of which I have not used yet, but hope to in the future.  The thing I have found most useful about this application is that it works like a crossover between RDP and VNC.  You can interact with the user that is logged on to the remote system much like VNC, but the connection and interface behave more like an RDP session.  Being able to chat with whomever is logged on to the system can also be helpful as you may not be in a location where using a phone is possible or convenient. This can aid communications and help in the troubleshooting process.

To improve the connection and control it somewhat, the Mini Remote Control application installs (at your option) an agent for connecting.  This provides a streamlined experience and reliable method to establish connections with remote computers.  If the agent is not installed, an RDP connection can still be used.

Note: DameWare also allows remote connections to Mac and Linux machines if VNC is enabled, making it more robust than just being able to support Windows computers.

Inside the mini remote client, there are file transfer utilities, screen capture tools to help you document the session and problems that may occur.  This saves taking screenshots of the entire window during a session, making things more streamlined.

Figure B

dameware figure B

Remote Control

This review is not meant to be exhaustive of all the features in the Dameware product. When I got a chance to look at the application I was simply blown away the huge collection of tools provided.

Because DameWare pricing starts at $349 it is well within reach for many in the IT industry.  Because of the number of machines I work with, being able to interact with the user logged in remotely for support as opposed to connecting to an alternate session or logging off the user is amazing. In addition, the experience between clients can carry over rather than being simply reset depending on the clients you are working with.

If you are a consultant, saving machines that are troublesome as favorites regardless of organization can be huge. Also because connections require authentication by the domain or the computer you are connecting to, the information remains secure, while allowing the tools to work with or without a domain.

The product does include a 30 day trial to get you hooked… er I mean started.  I encourage you to give it a try and see for yourself just what comes in the box.