How to fix PC problems remotely

To fix a PC, you don't need to physically take it to a technician, just use a tool found on Windows 10 PCs and macOS. Here's how it works

For the past few weeks, millions of people around the world have been locked in their homes due to the coronavirus emergency. Many of these people are spending quite a bit more time than before in front of the computer, either smart working or simply committing time.

Sometimes, however, the computer is acting up. But the technician can't come, nor can we go to the technician, so what do you do? You use the remote assistance tools built into the operating system, which have just that function: to allow a remote user to "get into" our computer and try to fix a possible problem. Both Windows 10 and macOS have a utility of this type, although the two programs work quite differently from each other. Both, however, can be effective if our PC or Mac isn't working as it should and, luckily, we have someone who can fix it for us from afar via the Internet. Here's how to do it.

Repair PC remotely on Windows 10

The Windows 10 remote assistance tool is called "Windows Remote Assistance". To use it, we need to search the Start menu search box for "remote assistance" and click on "Allow sending Remote Assistance invitations from this computer". A window will open with a "Remote connection" tab, in which we have to activate the check "Allow remote assistance connections to this computer" and then press Ok. At this point we'll have to search, again from the Start menu, for "Invite a user to connect to the PC in use to get assistance". Once the remote assistance tool is open we'll have two options: "Request assistance from a trusted person" and "Help user who asked for assistance".

Of course if we need help we'll have to click on the first one, if we need to help someone else we'll click on the second one. We can send the "help request" either via email or via Easy Connect (this function is not available on all computers, because it requires a particular network configuration).

Repairing a Mac remotely on macOS

Repairing a Mac remotely is a complicated procedure, because the feature built into macOS is not specific to repairs: you have to use the normal procedure of remote login, going to System Preferences > Sharing > Remote Login and enabling this feature. Automatically will be enabled also the secure FTP service (sftp), a security protocol to prevent someone to sneak into our Mac during the connection with another computer. Then we can choose whether to allow access to our Mac to "All users" or "Only these users". If we choose the second option, we will have to click on "Add +" and choose who can connect with our desktop: "Users and Groups" (all users of the Mac in question), "Network Users" and "Network Groups" (all users of the same network).

At this point it's up to the person who has to provide us with remote assistance to take the next step: he must open the Terminal (or if he prefers an SSH client), type and send the command ssh username@IPAddress. Instead of "username" enter the user name of our profile on that Mac, instead of "IPAddress" the IP address that we can find in the "Remote Login" panel of the Sharing preferences.