One of the most versatile tools I came across is Gbridge 2.0.
This free utility allows users not only to remotely control a
Windows host, but also transfer files, share folders, and
automatically synchronize files between PCs. Gbridge is firewall
friendly and does not require any modifications to the network
firewall. It does require a Gmail account (also free), but that
shouldn’t stop anyone from deploying it.
Gbridge is available for all versions of Windows from Windows
2000 to Windows 7, and it installs relatively simply on both host
and client. The software creates a soft VPN between host and remote
PCs using the gbridge.com Website and a Gmail account as the login
authority. This VPN is fully meshed so that multiple clients can
see one another and participate in file transfers, remote control,
and shared file locations. Thus, Gbridge provides many-to-many
connectivity instead of a one-to-one link as with most remote
One of the most interesting things about Gbridge is its ability
to create SecureShares that are accessible to all users. This is
nothing more than a folder on one of the client PCs, but Gbridge
extends it to all other participants. Gbridge will also allow you
to create an automatic backup between folders on Gbridge clients.
For example, I can have the My Documents folder on my office PC
automatically back up to a folder on my home PC each night.
Remote desktop access is also done a little differently. You can
use the built-in VNC client to take over the host PC or use
Windows’ own Remote Desktop Connection. Remote Desktop is off by
default, but with just a simple click on the host side, I was able
to take over my host without having to open any ports on my
Remote control performance when using VNC was a little sluggish
compared to native VNC installations, and unlike with native VNC, I
was not able to change color depth or screen resolution.
Performance while using Remote Desktop was better, but still a
little slower than a native connection, most likely due to the VPN
On the plus side, I had all the features of Remote Desktop,
including remote drives, printer support, remote sound, and a
shared clipboard. The best part was I didn’t have to open up my
firewall, and I could click and choose among potential hosts.
Unless your network has Windows Small Business Server, this
flexibility is not available to you.
Gbridge is one of the best free remote access tools available.
Remote access to Windows hosts is easy and flexible, and the
SecureShares and automatic backup features are unique. The use of
Gmail for authentication and the soft VPN allow for easy access to
your host without having to mess with the firewall, and they still
retain remote printing capabilities.
–Keith Schultz, InfoWorld