Zoho Assist Review | PCMag

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Zoho makes remote access software – the Chennai, India-based company apparently makes every type of business app you can imagine. What’s surprising is how different Zoho Assist feels from its competitors.

Zoho Assist is designed with technical support in mind. The interface, which runs entirely in the browser, is full of bells and whistles. Some features that I haven’t come across in any other remote access app include the ability to take control of Android and iOS devices. All of this, combined with a decent free version for personal use, makes Assist a compelling option. Be warned, however, that this app is primarily intended for IT administrators, and is organized as such. Beginners shouldn’t start here.


How much does Zoho Assist cost?

Zoho Assist offers a free version for personal use that can access up to five unattended computers and unlimited unique remote sessions (one at a time). That’s generous, considering most apps in this space don’t offer a free version, with the exception of Editors’ Choice winner TeamViewer, which offers all the features for free for personal use.

Paid plans required for business use start at $12 per month or $120 per year for Standard. This plan includes file transfers, multi-screen compatibility, voice chat, and more. To get video chat and whiteboard, you need the Enterprise service tier for $28 per month or $288 per year.

The prices are competitive but maybe not the best offers of the moment. Our Editors’ Choice for paid remote access software is RemotePC, which starts at $19.99 per year with unattended access to a single computer and unlimited single remote sessions. Teamviewer’s paid plans start at $414 per year, which is considerably higher than Zoho Assist, but Teamviewer also offers a more generous free version. Both apps perform considerably better than Zoho Assist in terms of streaming quality, which I’ll get to later. Zoho Assist is worth considering, given its price, especially if you’re primarily focused on providing remote assistance.


What operating systems does Zoho Assist work on?

Zoho Assist can be used to access devices running Windows (XP and later), macOS (10.9 Mavericks and later), Linux (latest versions), Android (5.0 Lollipop and later), and iOS (11.0 and later). later, but unattended access is not supported).

Zoho Assist can fully access devices from the web browser or app on mobile devices. There are desktop versions of Zoho Assist for Windows, macOS, and Linux, but this is just the web version that runs in a dedicated window. You don’t get any additional functionality.


Begin

Zoho Assist runs primarily in the browser and requires an account. Register at zoho.com/assist(Opens in a new window). The service opens to the Remote Assistance screen, which provides access to someone else’s computer.

Zoho Assist Interface

(Credit: PCMag)

By clicking Start now generates a link that you can share with anyone whose computer you want to access. This link walks your customer through the process of downloading and running the app, which will share their screen with you, after which you can take control.

Alternatively, if you want to access your devices, you can head to the Unattended Access tab. You can add devices in the Deployment tab, which has a blue Add device link. Click it to generate a deployment link, which you can use to install and configure the software on a device. If that sounds a bit obtuse, it’s because it’s software designed specifically for IT professionals, and as such, it doesn’t hold your hand.


Zoho Assist showing a browser running on a computer accessed by another

(Credit: PCMag)

Stuttering but does the job

I set up unattended access on a Windows 10 PC and Android phone, then accessed those devices from a Macbook, Windows laptop, and iPad Mini. In any case, I found the streaming quality of Zoho Access to be a little lower than competitors like TeamViewer and RemotePC, regardless of the browser I used. It’s possible to perform basic tasks, like editing documents or browsing the web, but anything involving graphics or media is a no-start, even on a local network. Zoho Access worked consistently during my testing and should be more than adequate for the types of tech support situations the software is built around.

And it’s not just screen control on offer here. The diagnostic button in the left menu bar, offered only when connected to a Windows computer, allows you to run the command prompt or PowerShell, kill apps from the task manager, and see the specifications of each piece of hardware connected to a Windows computer. That’s a lot of power, and I wish it wasn’t limited to Windows.

Zoho Assist diagnostic panel

(Credit: PCMag)

With the diagnostic button, you can find out a lot about a device without having to move your mouse, which is great if you’re trying to diagnose a problem. You also get buttons to quickly launch Control Panel and System Properties, which can cut down on the time you’re trying to navigate the Start menu on a remote computer. These features save time for technical support personnel.


Zoho Assist used to remotely access a mobile device

(Credit: PCMag)

Access mobile devices

Zoho Assist lets you remotely control Android and Apple mobile devices, a feature that most remote access software doesn’t offer. It works best on Android, where Zoho Assist can fully control the device. Performance isn’t amazing. Even with the two devices sitting next to each other, there was lag. But I could use a real keyboard to chat with my family on Snapchat – not the intended use, okay, but that was pretty cool. Navigation is tricky because Android isn’t designed to be controlled with a mouse and keyboard.

The experience is different on Apple devices, where Zoho Assist can only display the screen, not taking control of anything. It’s disappointing but unavoidable given Apple’s tighter security restrictions. Still, it could be a useful way to tell someone about a problem with their iPad, a useful tip for your toolbox when providing tech support to loved ones, for example. The display quality isn’t amazing, but it’s more than enough to figure out what’s going on.


Zoho Assist File Transfer Tool

File and other features

To transfer files, you use a drag-and-drop interface or, if you prefer, the system’s standard “open” menu. The lack of a two-pronged file transfer tool is disappointing but probably impossible given the web-based nature of the platform. The only remote access software with a convenient two-pane file transfer interface are RemotePC and GoToMyPC.

Zoho Assist offers a chat feature for real-time communication and an option to leave a digital note if you need access to someone’s machine while they’re away and want to talk to them. know what you have done. Video and audio chat is included, delivered through a browser window. The whiteboard feature is called Annotation and can only be triggered from the session window on the remote device.

A particularly missing feature is remote audio from the accessed machine. In other words, you cannot hear what is happening on the remote machine. Zoho Assist is the only remote access software I’ve tested without this feature.


A mixed bag

Zoho Assist is not for beginners, and intentionally. It’s remote access software designed from the ground up for people who provide customer support. The free version gives a lot of power to those of us who often end up as unpaid customer support for friends and family, while the full versions come with all sorts of features a professional might need. And Zoho Assist could work for either group.

What makes it hard to recommend is the streaming quality, which is very poor compared to the best remote access software, namely TeamViewer, our Editor’s Choice winner for personal use, and RemotePC , our Editor’s Choice for professional use. Both apps offer better streaming quality and offer better value for given use cases. Zoho Assist is worth considering, especially if you’re primarily going to be using remote access software to offer assistance.

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