Remote Assistance Feature in Windows

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Before you start

Objectives: Learn what is Remote Assistance, why it is used, and what to have in mind when using it.

Prerequisites: no prerequisites.

Key terms: Remote Assistance, Windows, support, help, invitation, introduction


 Remote Assistance

Remote Assistance is a support tool used by support personnel to allow them to view and interact with the screen of the user who needs assistance on the remote computer. With both Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop we can see the remote desktop at the management computer. However, the difference between Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop is that a users is logged on to a remote computer and initiate the Remote Assistance session, whereas a Remote Desktop session is initiated on the management computer. Also, Remote Assistance supports shadowing which means that the user on the remote computer can see everything the support personnel is doing. They can also exchange messages.

Remote Assistance is enabled by default on a Windows computer. The Windows Remote Assistance rule is enabled in the Windows firewall when we enable Remote Assistance (it uses port 3389 as Remote Desktop). Remote Assistance can be used only with the permission of the person that is logged onto the computer.

A Remote Assistance session is initiated by sending an assistance invitation. The invitation includes information that allows the remote user and computer to make the connection, exchange messages, and take control if necessary. Remote Assistance invitations can be created in three way. Invitations can be sent by email, saved to a file or shared using Easy Connect. Easy Connect method will only work on a local network with peer-to-peer name resolution protocol implemented.

Invitations require a password. When the support personnel receive invitation, they will need to provide a password given to them by the person requesting assistance. This password should be provided using a different method to the one used to send the invitation. Remote Assistance invitations can be used for only a limited time. Also, once the Remote Assistance application is closed, it is not possible to reconnect to that same session. In that case, Remote Assistance needs to be restarted and a new invitation has to be issued, since the previous one is no longer valid.

The user who requested assistance can terminate the assistance session at any time. By default, the support personnel will only be able to view the screen. The person providing assistance can then request control which allows them to interact directly with the remote computer. The person receiving assistance can return the session to view only. They can also block the person helping them from viewing the desktop temporarily by pausing Remote Assistance session. Like Remote Desktop, Remote Assistance connections can only occur when there is connectivity between the management computer and the remote computer. This means that we cannot resolve a network connectivity problems using Remote Assistance because a connectivity problem blocks Remote Assistance connection from becoming established.