What is Windows Assist?

The idea of someone else remotely taking control of your computer is one of the biggest cybersecurity nightmare scenarios, but under certain controlled and agreed circumstances, it can be a great way to solve problems. Windows Assist is a feature that has existed in Microsoft's flagship operating system products since as far back as Windows XP when it was called Windows Remote Assistance. Based on the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), it now complements the Get Help feature in Windows 10.

Give and get

The feature works both ways, allowing you to give and receive help, making it the perfect tool for anyone wanting to help a friend or family member sort out a problem over distance and, of course, it is also a practical way for businesses to solve dilemmas without having to pay the additional costs of third-party outsourced help.

Safety

While remote-access applications allowing one computer to take control of another are dangerous in theory, when it is used in a controlled way between two trusted parties, the process can be a valuable tool for diagnosing and fixing a problem over the internet. It could include anything from uninstalling a hardware driver to installing a cybersecurity program, among many other possible uses.

Anniversary Update

In the Anniversary Update of Windows 10, the tool is known as Quick Assist. It is not available for older versions of Windows, so if either computer in a pairing wishing to use a remote access solution is running an early Windows version, both ends will need to use Windows Remote Assistance instead.

This Assist function needs the person receiving help to be at their computer to grant permission for it to be connected and controlled remotely. Some people may want to attend during the process, while others will be happy for the remote controller to get on with the task on their own.

Internet speed

The speed of the internet connection will dictate how fast the process can run, as a slow hook-up can result in a sluggish performance in the way that one computer reacts to commands from the other. This type of latency is nowhere near as much of a problem these days as most of us have decent speeds, allowing the Assist tool to work within acceptable parameters of speed.

When an Assist session starts, a six-digit security code is generated for the person receiving support for them to enter on their computer. This is followed by a 'share your screen' permissions window so that any given PC can be clearly granted permission on all occasions. The tool is not simply something you set up once upon first installing it, the person receiving help will need to allow access to each pairing computer every time it is used.

If you want to make the most of the in-built features in Windows 10 or have concerns about the safety of remote access functions, we can give the advice and support you need on both hardware and software issues. Contact us today for further details.