Ditching TeamViewer for AnyDesk

I have been using TeamViewer for many years to support my relatives abroad when they had issues with their PC. I really like the product, despite getting huge (100Mb on MacOS) and bloated with many new features I don’t need, as it did the job well and worked cross-platform. For this reason, I have also always endorsed it for professional use with employers / customers (with the right paid license of course). However, as TeamViewer seems to have changed their strategy and seems to now aggressively push free users into a subscription they forced me to consider other options and switch to AnyDesk.

For some time already the application claimed that it had “detected commercial use” and imposed serious usage restrictions because of that (caps on #sessions / hour and length of sessions), making it no longer usable. I checked out TeamViewer’s support website and according to their definition, my use of the tool is considered private so I should be able to use it freely. There is no way that commercial usage can have been detected.  I never have a company myself and none of the systems involved have ever been used for commercial purposes so I raised a ticket with TeamViewer support as instructed on their support website.

When TeamViewer support (after about a month) responded to my ticket requesting to reinstate my free usage, the response I got was that they “detected a commercial usage” and that the “only thing [they] can offer is a discount” . Unfortunately, when asked they were not willing (or able?) to disclose what they detected so I have no clue how they determined that I would be using it “commercially” nor can clarify why that occurs during my private and non-commercial use.

Sadly, from this I can only conclude that TeamViewer, despite claiming otherwise, is aggressively targeting it’s free user base to increase their revenues by forcing private and non-commercial only users into a subscription. Normally I would have considered that since I don’t mind paying a reasonable amount for a good product but since there is only a €28/month subscription-based model available and that is not an option (I am using it max. once a month). Given their pricing model, aggressive approach and lack of openness to disclose what they have detected and respond to the information I have provided them, they are not leaving me any other choice but to look for another solution.

So… looking around for alternatives that were multi-platform (at least Windows and Mac), reasonably priced or free for private use, worked behind a firewall and I felt I could trust I quickly ended up with 2 options:
  1. iDrive’s Remote PC
  2. AnyDesk

Both met my requirements and pricing-wise and can be used privately for free while their entry level license fee was similar (about €60/year). They both work as expected but after testing both I selected AnyDesk for the following reasons:

  • Simplicity – very small and just does what it needs to do (i.e. no unnecessary screen recording, file transfer or other features I do not need)
  • Ease of use: – there is no need to install the application, just download and run
  • Privacy:
    • No need to register, you just need the peer’s generated 9-digit ID to connect (also on mobile).
    • Backed by a German company so bound to GDPR and other EU data privacy regulations

Of course there are a few flaws with this solution:

  • the free/lite version does not allow you to store known connections in an ‘address book’. Actually I don’t mind this as I am not so happy about storing this and the credentials to connect on their servers (I never have sessions that are unattended). The client does remember previous sessions’ machine IDs so this is not really a problem anyway
  • the client (at least on MacOS) automatically starts when the user logs in, which is not exactly how I like it. Fortunately it is pretty easy to disable this (as described here):
    • As root / with Sudo open the file /Library/LaunchAgents/com.philandro.anydesk.Frontend.plist
    • Look for the lines with:
      <key>RunAtLoad</key>
      <true/>
    • and change this into:
      <key>RunAtLoad</key>
      <false/>

    which disables the start of the AnyDesk client upon login of any user.

Of course I am still open for better (especially open-source) solutions but for now AnyDesk more then suffices and has replaced TeamViewer for me. Please note that I am not associated in any way with AnyDesk (or iDrive), the decision to switch to AnyDesk was purely based on my personal needs and the points mentioned above. This should not be seen as a endorsement for AnyDesk (or negative advise for RemotePC) as I feel that both products do work and it is great that both companies allow one to use their product for free for non-commercial use. Obviously it will be hard for me going forward to still recommend TeamViewer to employers/customers now that I have experienced other products fulfilling similar needs with a more reasonable license fees (and less aggressive marketing behind it).

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