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One of the most critical decisions that every system administrator has to make is which remote management solution to employ. This one choice can make a huge difference in your number of late hours and sleepless nights. A wrong choice means your salary doesn't come close to covering your aggravation. A correct one means you need to show up for work occasionally. We're not expecting you to believe this, at least not until you try Remote Task Manager«.

First, we'll clear some common misconceptions. People often think that Remote Task Manager« (RTM) is a remote desktop program (like pcAnywhere, VNC, Timbuktu, Remote Administrator, etc.). This is not true. RTM is a systems control tool. Here are some major differences between these two classes of applications.

A systems control tool can be run from any remote Windows NT/2000/XP computer and can control almost any function of any computer on the network. It is the primary tool used to perform routine network administration tasks. A remote desktop program, on the other hand, only mirrors processes happening on the screens of remote network computers and is more suitable for remote instruction and monitoring. A system administrator needs to actively manage the network rather than just look after (monitor, spy on) the users.

A systems control tool needs to work quickly, the faster the better. It does not cause network overload by transfering large amounts of graphics data. This lets you get by without expensive high-speed connection equipment. Remote desktop programs, however, have to transfer visual (graphic) images of desktops of all monitored computers to the administrator's screen, resulting in huge network traffic. Because the systems control tool transfers only the data about the system part(s) being administered, the amount of data transferred by Remote Task Manager« is generally 10 to 100 times less than that of a remote desktop, depending on the number of computers in the network. This advantage also translates to lower RAM requirements and faster processing time. This is a very important factor in choosing a remote system administration solution.

Remote desktop applications require special "graphics intercepting" drivers to be installed, which can destabilize your network computers and can actually cause them to crash. These drivers often are incompatible with other drivers already installed. Remote Task Manager« bypasses this problem, since it does not install any drivers. Different remote desktop programs are often incompatible with each other as well. You may have already played this "guess which ones are incompatible" game. With remote desktop applications, it's prudent to test the drivers first to avoid a civil war on your network.

Another important aspect of remote desktop software is the software itself may be incompatible with standard OS functions, such as Fast User Switching in Windows XP. Furthermore, remote desktop applications are often bloated with duplicate OS functions, such as Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server, Windows 2000 Server with Terminal Services, Windows 2003 Server, to name a few. Thus, corporate users are charged for the features they already have. Also, remote desktop applications violate Windows security and integrity concepts by allowing users with different access privileges to get files (or access objects) as if they had System privileges (user SYSTEM)! Conversely, Remote Task Manager« "impersonates" users according to their real access privileges, awarding only the appropriate admission level to each user.

Remote Task Manager« is an actual systems control interface that lets network administrators manage not only the standard system options, but hidden ones as well. Overall, Remote Task Manager« is more stable, reliable, safe, useful, convenient and suitable for pro-active system administrators.

This article should not be viewed as completely objective until you yourself have observed the differences between Remote Task Manager« and remote desktop software. They represent two vastly divergent remote management software classes and it is important for systems professionals to be aware of their disparities.

We are confident that you will find Remote Task Manager« to be your best choice. Possibly the best decision you make as a systems manager.