Remote access vs. remote viewer: What’s the difference?
Remote viewing is the ability to see what’s happening on a device without the option to interact with it. Remote access, on the other hand, allows you to see and control the device — we’re talking full control from anywhere; if you can do it in person, you can do it remotely. While it seems like remote access is the superior of the two, the best tool for you depends on your particular situation.
What is remote viewing?
Remote viewing allows you to see the device’s screen (and everything happening on it) for monitoring purposes. As the name suggests, it’s for viewing the device remotely — nothing more. If a device in the field is having issues and you’re not sure what’s going on, remote viewing is the answer.
Remote viewing is ideal for troubleshooting field issues with someone onsite. For example, if a PoS system is having trouble accessing a specific feature, you can remotely view the display while an onsite employee walks you through what’s happening. This can help determine if it’s a system issue or user error.
Esper offers remote viewing as part of our console, which is easy to set up and use.
What is remote access?
Remote access can be thought of as an extension of remote viewing. Instead of just being able to see what’s happening on the device’s screen, you can also take control. For example, if you’re trying to replicate an issue, you can recreate the steps to see what happens — all without physical access to the device. You can also use remote access to transfer files to and from the device, record the screen, retrieve logs, and more.
Esper offers mobile device management remote access through the console. Since remote access poses more potential security risks, we require all devices to be signed with Esper’s remote access plugin. This is also included in Esper Foundation for Android, making remote viewing and control seamless.
Remote monitoring vs remote access and remote viewing
While “monitoring” and “viewing” are similar terms, there’s an important distinction in the way they’re used:: “remote monitoring” is almost exclusively used by people who are looking to spy on another Android device.
While there can be legitimate reasons for this, nine times out of ten it’s to invade another person’s privacy. Most Android “monitoring” tools are designed to track a device’s location, messages, calls, emails, and more. These tools run in the background and stay hidden, making them very hard for the end user to detect – often by design.
Many of these tools are advertised as “free” for use, making them even less trustworthy, and they’re loaded with ads and even potentially malicious code. These kinds of services are not cheap to operate, so “free” is a red flag — they’re making money somewhere. Don’t let it be from selling your data.
While this may seem like an appealing option for keeping an eye on fleet devices, make no mistake here: avoid “Android monitoring” apps at all costs.
Remote access vs notification mirroring
There’s also notification mirroring, which is largely a consumer-based feature. This allows users to retrieve, interact with, and respond to phone notifications from their PC. Microsoft offers the Phone Link app for Windows, and Chrome OS has native support for notification mirroring.
While this is a form of remote access, it’s not the same thing. Notification mirroring is very limited in nature and specifically designed for consumer use. It’s not a viable fleet or business device management tool.
Remote viewing vs remote access vs notification mirroring
Since there’s some crossover between the tools we’ve been talking about, here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between them. Keep in mind that most of these are general features found on most remote viewing/control applications (not Esper-specific ones) — we noted the Esper differences where applicable.
|Remote Viewing||Remote Access||Notification Mirroring|
|Full device control||❌||✅||❌|
** – Technically you can see notifications while remotely viewing or controlling a device, but this isn’t a key use for either feature.
Are remote viewing and access safe?
From a trustworthy source (like Esper), remote viewing and remote access are both very safe and secure ways to interact with your devices over the web. Our remote options work over an SSL tunnel, making them incredibly secure. For more, check out our guide here.
Do you need remote viewing and access to devices? Get in touch!
Whether you need to remotely access 100 or 10,000 devices, Esper has the platform to do it. Using our secure remote viewer plugin (which we deploy to your devices), you can control devices remotely with our console, and access even more powerful features like Secure Remote ADB using the Esper CLI. Give us a chat today so we can help you take full control of your device fleet.
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