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Best free remote desktop software

Only the best free remote desktop software allows for streamlined remote access that won’t hurt your budget. Find out which providers are our top picks

A graphic of a laptop and desktop PC on a blue background with clouds above them

Remote access technology has the potential to streamline your business in various ways, and the very best free remote desktop software offers seamless remote access to computers and other devices from your own device, as well as robust support services and unrivalled utility.

There are numerous premium remote desktop programs on the market offering high-end, sophisticated features and tools for a monthly or annual rate, but reliable free remote desktop programs are hard to come by. To aid your search, we’ve put together a list of the best free remote desktop software solutions available today.

The 3 best free remote desktop software solutions

  • Zoho Assist: top free remote desktop platform Zoho Assist's free plan offers top tools including built-in live chat, multi-device connectivity, multi-monitor support, and more. A 15-day free trial gives you access to the premium plans, which start at £8 a month and offer advanced, leading features for remote assistance.
  • AnyDesk: excellent free plan for personal users AnyDesk's top free-forever plan provides one user with access to excellent remote desktop tools, via end-to-end encryption, such as remote printing and mobile and desktop OS use. Its premium plans start from £12.90 a month, and add a wide range of advanced features.
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop: free remote access If you've got a Windows PC, Microsoft Remote Desktop is included for free, and offers built-in functionalities such as remote file access, mobile apps, and much more. While it's got a learning curve, it offers simple and immediate remote access for Windows users.

What are the best free remote desktop programs?

The best overall free remote desktop program is Zoho Assist, which has a variety of advanced tools and is backed by the rest of the Zoho ecosystem of productivity software tools and platforms.

AnyDesk is known for its powerful premium solutions, but its free plan is certainly worth using as well. TightVNC is a reliable provider that has been around for more than 20 years, while Microsoft Remote Desktop is an advanced option, and it comes pre-installed on most modern Windows computers.

In turn, Chrome Remote Desktop offers a browser extension that can be used with a variety of operating systems. It’s super easy to use, and boasts decent security and streamlined performance.

The best free remote desktop services, compared

Remote desktop servicePlatform(s)Maximum usersEncryption
Zoho AssistWindows, Mac, iOS, AndroidOne256-bit AES encryption
AnyDeskWindows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOSOne 256-bit AES encryption
Microsoft Remote DesktopWindowsOneSSL
TightVNCWindows, LinuxNo limitNone
Chrome Remote DesktopWindows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOSOne256-bit AES encryption

The best free remote desktop software available today

Zoho Assist

Zoho Assist logo

Zoho

Best for providing remote support

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Platform(s): Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
  • Max users: One
  • Encryption: 256-bit AES encryption

REASONS TO BUY

  • Integrated with the rest of the Zoho ecosystem
  • Live chat and clipboard sharing tools
  • Great cross-platform compatibility

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Only one user is supported

Score: 4.5/5

Zoho Assist is better known for its premium team remote desktop solutions, but its free plan has plenty to bring to the table. It only supports one user, but it enables you to connect to a variety of different devices. There’s a built-in live chat tool as well.

One thing that stands out about Zoho Assist is its excellent multi-monitor support. There’s also a 15-day free trial for the more advanced subscriptions, which you might like to consider if you need more tools than the free plan offers.

Read our full Zoho Assist review

AnyDesk

AnyDesk logo

AnyDesk

Best for security-conscious users

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Platform(s): Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS
  • Max users: One
  • Encryption: End-to-end AES 256-bit encryption

REASONS TO BUY

  • Can be used on various desktop and mobile operating systems
  • Unattended access and remote printing available
  • Advanced security tools

REASONS TO AVOID

  • A little complex for beginners
  • Not useful for teams

Score: 4/5

AnyDesk is another popular premium remote desktop software provider with an excellent free-forever plan. This is only available for personal use, but it’s certainly an option worth considering.

Known for its excellent security, which includes end-to-end encryption, AnyDesk also offers a range of various advanced tools, including a remote printing module, and you can access unattended computers with a password. It’s also available on a suite of mobile and desktop operating systems.

On the downside, AnyDesk is a little complicated to get started with. You will have to upgrade to a premium plan if you need to use it in a professional setting or with more than one user.

Read our full AnyDesk review.

Microsoft Remote Desktop

Microsoft Remote Desktop logo

Microsoft

Best built-in remote desktop solution

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Platform(s): Windows
  • Max users: One
  • Encryption: SSL

REASONS TO BUY

  • Comes pre-installed with most Windows computers
  • Streamlined file transfer tools
  • Provides smooth remote desktop access

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Can be a little confusing to set up
  • Can’t be used with all Windows computers
  • Can only be used with Windows

Score: 3/5

All modern Windows computers come with built-in remote desktop access tools via the RDP protocol. These can be used by someone else from a remote location who may need access to your computer.

All things considered, Microsoft Remote Desktop is excellent. It comes with a range of features, including remote file access and mobile apps. However, it can be difficult to use, and you will need at least some tech experience to get the most out of it.

For example, you will often have to set custom firewall rules before remote access is possible. You may have to forward specific ports on your router, which isn’t difficult but may scare off some beginners.

Read our full Microsoft Remote Desktop review.

Tighten

TightVNC logo

TightVNC

Best for Linux users

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Platform(s): Windows, Linux
  • Max users: No limit
  • Encryption: None

REASONS TO BUY

  • Free, open-source program
  • Excellent documentation
  • Supports multi-platform environments

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No built-in encryption or other security features
  • May require router port forwarding

Score: 3/5

TightVNC has been delivering reliable remote desktop solutions for more than 20 years. It uses the virtual network computing (VNC) protocol to enable streamlined remote access, and it’s completely free for anyone to use.

The platform is known for the small amount of bandwidth it uses. This generally leads to excellent screen share quality and performance. On the downside, encryption is completely absent, and your remote access sessions may be vulnerable to attack. A little technical expertise is required to get started, and you may have to perform actions like router port forwarding.

However, TightVNC’s Linux compatibility makes it an excellent option among providers of the best remote desktop for Linux, and worth considering. And the poor security can be overcome by simply using it in conjunction with one of the best VPN services.

Read our TightVNC review.

Chrome Remote Desktop

Chrome Remote Desktop logo

Google

Best overall free remote desktop software

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Platform(s): Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
  • Max users: One
  • Encryption: 256-bit AES encryption

REASONS TO BUY

  • Great cross-platform compatibility
  • Very easy to set up and use
  • Streamlined performance with excellent quality

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Lacks advanced features
  • Can only be used with Chrome

Score: 3/5

A very popular remote desktop program that is free is Chrome Remote Desktop. This is because not only is it convenient and fast, but it also works with all kinds of devices like Linux, Android, iOS, and Mac. If you don’t have a lot of tech experience, you’ll be pleased to know this program comes as a Chrome extension, you simply add it to the browser.

However, it does lack some advanced features too, which would have been nice to have. It’s not able to carry out remote printing, for example, and it lacks file transfer tools. If you’re looking for tech assistance, there’s no live chat option which makes this a bit difficult.

Despite this, if you’re searching for a fairly simple program which can access a number of different devices, then we would recommend thinking about Chrome Remote Desktop.

How to choose the best free remote desktop software for you

It’s worth pointing out that since many free remote desktop programs are fairly simple, they all tend to be quite similar too. This means, for example, not all of the free offerings will support multiple users. This can be quite an important feature to have, so if it’s essential for you then it might be worth considering platforms like Microsoft Remote Desktop or TightVNC.

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AnyDesk is great at security, which is another factor that is important to consider. You should always bear in mind the operating system, or systems, you will be utilising and ensure the programs you select are compatible with it.

Overall, it’s probably worth remembering that these programs don’t cost any money. They’re probably not going to contain all the features you need and might not be fancy either. Our best advice is to try out a few of the options for yourself so you can trial them and see which fits your needs the best.

If you're interested in finding out more about remote desktop technology and platforms, we've got a wide range of content available for your reference. Learn more about XRDP and what TeamViewer offers; find out how to use Microsoft Remote Desktop, and how to use remote desktop on Windows 10.

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