By Erin Ellison September 14, 2021
Summary: Ever wondered what exactly remote tech support is? Or if it’s actually safe to give a stranger control over your device? We break down the aptly-named tool, how to stay secure if you’re using a remote support option, and how to decide if it’s something you should invest in.
If you’ve ever needed to set up (or reset) your own tech, you know the feeling of trying to frantically search for solutions on YouTube or Google – made much more complicated if it’s your modem or router that you’re trying to get up and running!
For good reason, that feeling is part of why remote technical support is gaining popularity. It doesn’t require you to leave your home and drive to a store (with the hardware in tow), and it eliminates the need for repair experts to come out to your home. Sounds amazing, right? But how do they fix something remotely? Even if they didn’t make it or sell it to you. And how do you know if your remote tech support is actually secure? It’s easy.
Sometimes the future is too bright to wear shades, folks.
Remote technical support is exactly what it sounds like: expert problem-solving that’s done from a different location than the device. Rather than taking your Mac into the Genius Bar or bringing your PC to the Geek Squad, a remote tech support program can help solve your problem where you are.
It can be used for a wide variety of tech products but is most commonly used for computers. By using remote access software (a program you can run on just about any computer), a technician can look inside your computer and fix the problem for you. In other words, you won’t have to follow their instructions as they walk you through it. You can essentially hand it off for a few minutes and get it back as good as new.
But, if giving a perfect stranger remote control over your device sounds like a risky idea, let us explain.
Like most things on the web, the real answer to this is, “It depends.” The thing to remember with remote tech support is that you need to be sure the service is through a reputable provider. You are giving the expert on the other end complete control over your device, and all the information on it – so be sure it’s who you think it is. Just like you would ensure an email is from a real sender before giving out your information to avoid phishing, be sure to do the same with remote tech support.
Reputable remote tech support providers have multiple security measures. Typically, you’ll have to install a specific program. Then, you’ll enter a code to share your desktop. From there, you can either grant access or allow view only. Granting access can expedite the process since the technician can handle the troubleshooting and explain what’s going on — rather than walking you through the steps. However, you should choose whatever you’re most comfortable with.
Be sure to pay attention to what they’re doing during the process, though: you just might be able to troubleshoot your own tech the next time.
But, of course, any time you’re running new software on your device, there’s the potential of a security issue. There are a few steps you can take to stay protected – and if you’ve been following us for a while, some of these might sound familiar.
Yes, we’ve said it before and yes, we’ll probably say it again. But having strong, unique passwords for all your accounts and devices is really the single biggest step you can take towards staying secure. Use a different password for every single account (yes, really), use combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols, and avoid using anything obvious such as your name, birthday, kids’ birthdays, or wedding date.
You should also avoid storing passwords in your browser keychain, or as a document on your desktop. Instead, use a password manager.
Having strong passwords is great, but two-factor authentication (2FA) takes it a step further. 2FA renders just your username and password useless. Instead, you must answer a security question, input a code sent to your email or phone, use facial recognition, or some other step to verify your identity. While 2FA adds a few seconds to your login time, it’s well worth it. It makes your accounts far harder to hack and can give you an alert if someone is trying to get into your profile.
A Virtual Private Network (or VPN) uses encryption to keep you safer online. Your device isn’t connected directly to the web. Instead, it’s routed through a different server and virtually impossible to track. You’ll be less vulnerable to hackers this way, whether you’re using remote support or not.
So, you know how it works and the ways you can stay extra safe while using it. Now why do you want to opt for remote support?
Here’s the short and sweet version: yes! Need to know a bit more?
Remote tech support is a great option for a lot of reasons. If you’re on a tight schedule or have work-essential hardware and software to operate, you don’t have to worry about waiting for a tech to come out for an appointment. Whenever you’re having an issue, you can simply reach out to get remote assistance.
You also don’t have to worry about someone coming into your home. Have a dog that doesn’t like strangers? Not a problem. Feeling under the weather and don’t want to spread it? That doesn’t mean you have to live with an unconnected TV.
But before you pick a provider, do your research. Make sure they’re reputable (what does their website look like? Are they affiliated with other well-known tech providers?) and see what types of technology they support. Some companies only work with certain pieces of equipment or will only provide support for a device that they sold. If you buy your tech from all over, what should you do? Opt for a provider with a team of experts who can handle just about any kind of tech from fridge to phone.
Our favorite is EarthLink EasyTech, because it really does make running your tech easy. With experts who can service just about everything — like televisions, soundbars, streaming devices, smart speakers, video doorbells, smartwatches, laptops, mobile phones, e-readers, modems, routers, and more — you’ll never be left in the lurch.
Plus, the subscription comes with an unlimited number of calls. So, whether you recently moved and are setting up all your devices again, or you’re new to the smart home world, all your questions are covered — no matter where you bought your device.
Oh, and EasyTech pairs perfectly with high-speed internet and no internet data caps. What can we say, we like to support all the gadgets in your home.
Erin Ellison is the Director of Content & SEO for EarthLink. She has more than 15 years of writing experience for businesses, agencies, and the media. Her superpower is translating complicated tech jargon into language we can all understand. She currently lives and works in Atlanta. Connect with Erin on LinkedIn.
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