Remote Access with LogMeIn

I’ve been using LogMeIn for a good 5 years now, but I don’t know if I’ve ever written about it. More and more, we church techs are interacting with computers for critical elements of our jobs. Practically all our lighting, sound and video systems can be controlled remotely from a computer, so it makes sense that we be prepared to control those computers from outside the building.

We may be home on a day off when a problem arises, or we may need to access a system at a campus across town (or across the country). There are dozens of ways to do this of course, and if you have a rock-solid full-time IT staff, you can probably get VPN access set up which will work well. 

Often times, getting VPN set up and maintained so it works reliably can be challenging. In that case, a program  like LogMeIn is really helpful. To set it up, you visit www.logmein.com and sign up for an account. I’ve been using the same free account for 4 years now with excellent results. The paid accounts offer some great features, but I haven’t needed any of them.

Once you have the account set up, go to the computer you wish to remote into, sign into logmein.com and select “Add Computer.” This will trigger a small download and install some code on the target computer. Basically, it makes the computer visible to the LogMeIn system. Once the software is installed, you can access your account from any computer anywhere and remotely control that target computer. That’s it. Hard-core IT guys might scoff at this, but for a TD just trying to get by, it’s brilliant. 

I recently added the iPad app, LogMeIn Ignition to my collection as well, and it’s proven to be most excellent. There have been times when I’ve needed to log in to upload a file, fix an issue or change a program on a processor. With Ignition, I can grab the iPad, do what I need to do, then get back to my day off. 

As a real-world example of how I use LogMeIn, I’ll use my video podcast process. We typically post the 9 AM service for our video podcast. I do a quick edit before I go home on Sunday, and send it to Compressor to render. Since it takes a few hours to render the file, I don’t want to stick around and wait. So I go home. Around 4 PM, an alert goes off on my phone (usually waking me up from my nap) reminding me to upload the video. I grab the iPad, log in, launch Vimeo Uploader, drag the file in, hit upload and I’m done. 

I also have most of the computers that remotely control my systems set up with LogMeIn. If I’m out of town and the FOH guy is having trouble with the M-48s, I can log in and take a look at the issue and fix it. I can even access our student room’s lighting board and system/room processor. 

The thing I like about LogMeIn is that it gets right through the firewall and IP address issues that often plague remote access. In fact, even when I’m in the building, I sometimes use Ignition because I have computers that are multi-homed (running multiple NICs with multiple IP addresses), which confuses VNC apps. 

Again, if you have a rockstar IT guy who has plenty of time to help you navigate all these issues, you can make Apple’s Remote Desktop, screen sharing or basic VNC work just fine. But I’m not a hardcore IT guy, and our IT guy is really busy. Given that I can spend 2 minutes installing LogMeIn, and have it just work, I think it’s a great solution for small- to medium-sized churches. 

Oh, and I should mention that it’s totally cross-platform. You can control Macs from Windows, Windows from Macs, or whatever. So if you need remote access to your computers, give it a try.

How do you use remote access in your organization?

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