How Can I Secure A Family Member’s Computer When They Live In Another City?

Most people like to be able to help other family members. While not everyone gets along with their other family members, most people do and if we have a chance, we like to do something nice for them every once in a while. It makes you feel good and you hope that someday, if you need it, they will return the favor.

But while a lot of people stay near their other family members for most of their life, a lot of other people move away. Some people might just move to another city, other people to another state, and even more might move half way around the world. So when you have reached distances like that it is hard to be able to help a family member in need.

But in the world of computer security, because we are all mostly joined together by the internet, it is easier to be able to help a family member even if they are in another country. You are able to use certain technologies that are available to you to help ease the pain when something happens to their computer. Whether it is just giving instructions on what to do if something bad happens or being able to take over their computer so you can fix the problem yourself, the internet makes this easy. So take a look at the rest of the article so you can figure out what to do in case a family member needs help with a security problem on their computer.

How Can I Secure A Family Member's Computer When They Live In Another City?

The technologies that are available to you

Most lists such as this usually go from the easiest tool to use and then to hardest. Not this time. I am going to take a look at the technology that may be the hardest to grasp but once you do it will make your job a lot easier. After that I will then take a look at some of the other technology that might work but is not as effective as the first one that I will talk about.

The first technology that we are going to talk about is called VNC. The letters VNC stand for Virtual Network Connection. It allows you to take over someone else’s computer no matter where you are at. As long as you have their IP address and they give you permission to run the program, you will be able to take over and fix whatever is wrong with their computer.

The technology is simple. You have a small box on your computer screen that will allow you to be able to see the other persons screen. You can then control the mouse and make movements as if you were on your own computer. So while this is going on, you can then install or uninstall any programs that seems like it can be doing harm to your family members computer. You can also run any security programs that you deem necessary to make sure that their system is safe. This method is tried and true. There are a lot of major businesses that use this same technology on their computers.

The only choice that you really have is whether you are going to use a free version or one of the paid for versions that are floating around. With the commercial versions of the software such as gotomyPC, you will notice that they have a better interface and might be better at holding your hand at the beginning stages of learning how to use the software. But with the open source version of the same software you receive similar capabilities and a bustling open source community that you can ask questions. A popular VNC technology in the open source community is TightVNC. It is easy to use but graphically a little rough around the edges. Whichever technology you choose to use to help you with this problem should be more than enough to be able to do the job well.

If you think that using a VNC technology might be too complicated or if you just want an easier way then you might want to take a look at just using plain old instant messenger. While this is not revolutionary technology, you can use some of the newer features that are offered by a lot of the instant messenger software that is out there to help get the job done. You can use the new video camera portions of the technology to be able to text instructions while also showing a screen shot of your own computer to help give them a visual picture. This will allow them to both read instructions as well as being able to follow along visually.

Both of the solutions that I have talked about should be done before anything severe happens to the computer. If the computer is already infected and you cannot use it, then any type of software will not be able help. So use these suggestions if the infection is small or as prevention for attacks down the line.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. My suggestion is to use TeamViewer. It will make a connection without having to spend a lot of time in the phone trying to help the owner to open ports in firewalls, etc. before even being able to connect to the computer. Easy to use on both sides (of which the remote side is the most important since it’s where the least experienced computer user often is located – hence the need for remote help logically) and free for personal use in its base variant. And it’s also secure enough for most situations including the need for the remote user to actively accept the remote control session by giving the remote controlling person a randomly generated access code. Works for many platforms, but restrictions may apply to the free version. The free version at least works very good for the Windows platform.

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