I recently came across an application that will allow you to control your PC, called RemoteByMail (RBM). This is nothing new most of you may be familiar with remote desktop management software like GotoMyPC . These remote desktop management programs typically work by providing a localized version of the computer’s display. All users have to do is connect to the PC as they normally would.

However, remote desktop management programs have its downside: Such programs require some kind of direct, or indirect, connection to the target computer. Creating such a connection can be done by poking holes in a firewall (as with Remote Desktop) or using a service that costs money. Nevertheless, what should you do if either of these approaches becomes a problem?

That is where the application I talked a paragraph above comes to help you. By just sending plain text e-mail.The, software is called RemoteByMail, (RBM). RBM’s concept is elegant: You install a small server application on the computer you want to control, which then periodically checks a POP3 email account for messages. Email sent to the account can contain commands to perform various useful tasks like:

  • Send a file back to you by email
  • ZIP and send back a file you requested
  • Return a list of files in a given directory
  • Execute an arbitrary command.

Since RBM works via email, we do not have to be concerned about assigning an inbound port (like the way we do to configure regular remote desktop management tools. All we have to do is make sure RBM is able send and receive email, and this can normally done by assigning a firewall exception to the program.

How to set up RemoteByMail
To set up the RemoteByMail, we will have to create an email account exclusively for it (This is where all the instructions are sent, so keep this address secret. You can set the program to poll multiple email accounts if required.) The clients you allow to access the system are defined by their email addresses, and you can allow clients via wildcards—for instance, *@company.com would allow anyone sending from the company.com domain to execute commands (Remember anyone sending a mail from that domain can execute commands, keep security of the PC in mind while assigning wildcards).

RemoteByMail program options
Options in the RemoteByMail program include an option to split-file sizes for a .ZIP archive (so you can send large files by splitting them across multiple emails) and activity logging. You can use the macros option to batch together multiple commands and refer to them in shorthand, or use them to refer to executing external applications if needed.

To some degree, the macro function compensates for the lack of a broader native command set in the program. Sure, it would be nice for the author to have included a command that remotely reboots the machine and sends an email confirmation when it comes. However, let us not forget the program itself is free, and only in its 1.01 iteration. I hope to see more features added to the program especially concerning the security of the program.

[tags]remote, software, e-mail[/tags]