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Windows 7 Remote Assistance

Author: Helga York
Helga York Article author

Hello and welcome, my fellow tele-toilers and anyone just scrolling by!

Apparently, a good deal of people is still, to this day, active Windows 7 users. And they may face all sorts of scenarios when they need remote helpers service. In the previous HelpWire blog about the Windows Remote Assistance app, we’ve already covered some important aspects of using standard Windows utilities in your remote assistance sessions and the safety (or rather lack of it) of RDP connections. So now we can dig a lot deeper into the specifics of Remote Assistance in Windows 7, like what checkboxes in which pane must be ticked to allow remote connection and why administrator permissions are so necessary. Also, we’ll find out what files to mail out in Windows 7 to request remote assistance.

Buckle up, and here we go!

Microsoft Remote Assistance in Windows 7: some tricks and quirks

As its name suggests, Win7 Remote Assistance is all about accessing PCs over the network to try and fix technical issues users may be facing. On the bright side, it’s much faster and easier than passing instructions over the phone or some messenger and having a non-techie person trying to keep up with all those IT shamanism.

But don’t get filled with enthusiasm before I’d introduced you to the dark side too. The dark side is full of sly hackers and destructive worms scouring the web for a poorly protected RDP connection. But we’ll get back to this later once we figure out how to use Remote Assistance in Windows 7.

The way Win 7 Remote Assistance works isn’t that different compared to same-named apps in all other Windows versions from XP and onwards.

1. First, you need to make sure that both you and your helper’s computers allow remote connections. In order to do that, go to the Remote pane of the System Properties and tick the ‘Allow Remote Assistance…’ checkbox.

Note that you need to have administrator permissions to make changes in the System Properties but not to use MS Remote Assistance (Windows 7 supports the Win+Pause (Break) shortcut, so don’t hesitate to use it).

2. Then, to launch the application, hit Win+R, type msra.exe, and press Enter. Or just use Windows search to find the msra.exe file and double-click its name in the search results.

Alternatively, you can take the long ride: go to Windows Help and Support, find and click the Ask button, and then click Windows Remote Assistance. After that, all you need to do is send a remote assistance invitation. In Windows 7, there is no Quick Assist option, so you’re pretty much stack with passing an invitation file to your remote helper.

How to send remote assistance invitations in Windows 7

So, as we’ve figured out by now, in Windows 7, to invite remote assistance, you’ll have to email the automatically generated .msrcincident file and password to the person you’d like to fix your tech problems. Beck in Win XP times that password used to be optional, but in Win 7, it became compulsory. It is strongly recommended not to include the password to the same email letter with the invitation file for safety reasons.

However, if all of the computers you and your helpers are going to use during the remote assistance sessions are at the same local network, you can simply save the said file to your PC’s shared folder. Then use whatever messenger you like to contact your helper and give them instructions on how to find it, along with the password.

Of cause, if the Easy Connect option is active in your Remote Assistance app window, then go for it, so you can avoid bothering yourselves with mailing files. Sadly, nine times out of ten, you try to use this option, it’s going to be greyed out for all sorts of reasons.

How to offer remote assistance in Windows 7

As there are no direct remote assistance requests in Win 7, there are two possible scenarios when you can help someone deal with their tech problems remotely. You’ll have to either receive an invitation file (plus password) or an Easy Connect password. The start of the session is pretty much the same.
  1. First, you make sure remote connections to your computer are enabled, then use Run to launch the application.
  2. Then you just choose the second option Help someone who has invited you instead of the first one.
  3. After that, you either decide to use the .msrcincident file or use Easy Connect if you don’t have it. In either case, for the next step, you’ll be prompted to enter the password you’ve received from the person asking for your help.
  4. Once you’ve entered the correct password and clicked OK, the remote assistance session begins.

You’ll be able to see the other person’s desktop and interact with any apps, files, and folders in real-time, just like if you were sitting in front of that remote computer. On top of that, you’ll have access to the internal chat for direct communication with your helpee, so there is no need for other messengers. To end the session, click the ‘Stop sharing’ button at the top of the window.

Is Windows 7 Remote Assistance safe?

Ok, if you’ve ever read my other blogs about standard Windows remote access utilities, then you probably already know the answer. No, none of those are. And the reason for that is on the surface: an abysmal level of protection. The password can keep away a basic software user, but not a malware worm or a trained professional with shady intentions. Those aim for your open ports. And there’ll be some of those for all the time you’re using Windows Remote Assistance.

The bare minimum you can do to protect your system from unwanted entry is getting a good and reliable VPN. And the ideal solution is investing in a decent remote access software tool with advanced encryption algorithms and a private tunnel server.

And that’ll be all for today’s blog. Don’t hesitate to click my links to dig a bit deeper, stay safe, never accept connection requests from strangers, and see ya all in the next one.