Being able to access a friend's machine or your work PC from afar can be invaluable for fixing problems or retrieving data. Here, we demonstrate remote access using an iPhone. Sponsored by LogMeIn.

Smartphones aren't only desirable, they're potentially invaluable. BlackBerry and Android handsets, as well as the iPhone, preload software that lets you manage and synchronise your contact and calendar information with your PC. Add-on tools are also available that allow you to access and work with data stored on your PC from afar.

So, if you've left a vital document on your work PC and a colleague isn't available to save your bacon, you can access, browse and even forward on that document from your smartphone. No one need be any the wiser that you messed up.

We've looked at remote access in the past, primarily as a means of remotely troubleshooting and fixing PC problems. The idea of using a smartphone instead is a relatively new development, with the LogMeIn Ignition software we've used in this workshop available for the iPhone only since February. An Android version is expected to launch soon.

Ignition displays your entire desktop onscreen, giving you full access to all files and settings. It also enables you to help friends and colleagues, taking control of their PCs and sorting out any problems they have.

You can download free trials of LogMeIn software from iPhone and iPod touch owners can also download Ignition from the App Store. At £17 it isn't an impulse buy, but if you travel a lot and need remote access to your PC, it's likely to come in useful.

LogMeIn's wide range of products all offer remote access to your PC over the internet, and all are set up in the same way. We'll have a quick look at the desktop version of the software - LogMeIn Free - before getting down to the specifics with Ignition for the iPhone.

Remote access from a mobile phone

Step 1. Download LogMeIn Free from and install it on both the local and host PC. To register for a free LogMeIn account, click ‘Create an account', ‘Management and Networking', then Continue. Complete the registration form and check your email inbox for an account-confirmation request.

LogMeIn Ignition 1

Step 2. Following a successful registration you'll be forwarded to your online account. From here you can manage your account, adjust settings and add computers. Click the My Computers link, then choose Remote Control under the PC you want to control. Enter your password and the host PC's desktop will appear in your browser.

LogMeIn Ignition 2

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