Apple Remote Desktop or Timbuktu?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by adriantoll, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. adriantoll macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2004
    I'm moving overseas, and as my mother's personal Apple Support Representative, I want to be able to log into her computer and sort things out for her while she watches.

    Despite good technical knowledge, I really can't be doing with lots of configuration of routers (although I'll probably stretch to port forwarding) because I want this to be easy, like Macs are supposed to be! :D

    The two packages that I've had a look at are Apple Remote Desktop and Timbuktu. The way I see it, Apple Remote Desktop has two problems, price (although I can get a good educational discount) and you have to set up port forwarding; and one plus - that you don't need to install a client on the target computer. Timbuktu has two plusses, price and you can connect through Skype (presumably without any port forwarding); and one minus - that you have to install the client on the target computer.

    Has anyone had experience of both these pieces of software? I'm particularly interested in the Skype connection option of Timbuktu - how reliable is it? Are there any particular features of either programme which you've found particularly useful?
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I'd suggest VNC as a third option:

    Since it's built into the ARD component as of 10.4 (if she's on 10.3 you can install the latest version from an Apple download), all you really need to do is turn it on, set a password, open the port in the firewall (automatic in 10.4, manual in 10.3), and forward the port if necessary.

    You can also turn on Remote Login if you want to bring up a terminal window on her box and/or do an SSH tunnel to encrypt whatever you're doing via VNC, if you happen to be on an exposed network. There are apps to do the tunneling for you--I use AlmostVPN, which is remarkably easy once it's set up--just click a button in the widget and you're good to go.

    VNC doesn't offer quite the features of the other two options, but it's free, and it gives you the same control as if you were sitting in front of the box. If you need to transfer files, you can leave File Sharing on or just turn it on when you're connected via VNC.

    I've used this successfully to work on a number of computers at work (too cheap to buy ARD), and it's done pretty well for me, so I think it's worth at least trying.

    One complaint: I use Apple's built-in server for convienence, but it doesn't seem to handle connections at less than thousands of colors properly. There are other servers available that do, if you want to install them instead.
  3. adriantoll thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2004
    OK, thanks for that. I'd had a quick look at VNC, and it all seemed a bit too complicated, but from your description it doesn't seem that bad. I'll have another look...
  4. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    ARD is more of a "professionals" choice for remote control, as it includes all sorts of utilities that allows the pushing of packages, messages, unix commands, getting inventory, etc, etc. It's quite pricey and much more than you need to support your Mom remotely.

    Timbuktu is an excellent app, but last I checked it was quite pricey as well. I'm not sure if you can buy 2 licenses or not.

    I agree that VNC is the way to go. It's free, it's already built into your Mom's Mac, my only problem with it is that it's just not as "secure" as the previous two.
  5. adriantoll thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2004
    Well, thanks for the push towards VNC - I got Chicken of the VNC and it works fine. All it needed was a single port forward on my mum's router and it worked perfectly first time...

    Just posting this so that people have a recommendation from someone lazy like me - it's easy *and* free!
  6. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

    Oct 15, 2003
    The price of Timbuktu is down, it's got rock-solid security nowadays, and it's way faster than any of the others. It's also got the best file-transfer capabilities.

    VNC runs on more platforms than any of the others (no Timbuktu for Unix). It is slower though, and I've found the Mac clients to be less reliable than client software packages on the other platforms. (Oddly enough, the SERVER sw available to MacOS seems plenty robust).

    Apple Remote Desktop can play with VNC where VNC is the client, I believe. That makes it cheaper, possibly at the expense of speed when you do that? It can't really keep up with TB2 under any circumstances, but I think it's faster than VNC. I'm pretty sure you lose a LOT of functionality if you try to connect to a non-MacOS machine. So if you need to remotely connect to & control both Macs and PCs, FROM both Macs and PCs, Timbuktu looks very impressive. Toss in a couple Ubuntu or Red Hat boxes though, and ARD+VNC still works while TB2 is out of its league.

    There's another player in the field nowadays, the formerly Windows-only product PCAnywhere. Or at least they announced, dunno if they ever SHIPPED a Mac version. Can't attest to how it measures up, never used it.

Share This Page