Background access vs unattended access: What's the difference?

Young woman and man looking at an office desktop monitor leveraging background access vs unattended access to provide remote monitoring and management support

Productivity is key in any business—getting the work done in a timely fashion, with little to no interruption. Yet when working in the digital age, seamless productivity is easier said than done. Device and software glitches, stalls, and crashes can put a wrench into even the most organized of organizations or individuals.

The “fix” can be equally time-consuming, but thanks to remote IT support software features like background access and unattended access, devices can be updated and maintenance tasks executed without interrupting users on their device. In fact, the user doesn’t even have to be at the computer for IT to solve issues or perform updates.

Background Access vs. Unattended Access

What is background access?

Simply put, it allows you to see all the computers and devices in your IT infrastructure from a single dashboard—literally in the background, without starting a remote session on a computer. Providers such as GoTo Resolve offer remote IT software that lets IT professionals view information about a specific computer such as memory and CPU usage. The result? Issues, updates, and maintenance can be performed without user interruption.

The benefits of background access include:

  • Device management: View and securely transfer, move and manage files from deployed hosts without needing to start a remote session. (This feature is sometimes called Background File Manager.)
  • Device action: Take care of most, if not all, administration tasks using a fully functional command prompt on deployed devices—without needing to start a remote session. (This feature is sometimes called Remote Terminal Access.)
  • Device insights: Check on real-time system diagnostics like CPU, memory, network, processes and more, to see if there is an issue. (This feature is sometimes called Device Quick View.)

Yet how does unattended access differ from background access?

Either way, you don’t need an end user present. With background access, you can look and see what’s going on with a device. With unattended access, you can remote into a computer (start a remote session) to fix issues, whether it’s proactive updates or triaging problems. As a result, your IT team can handle any issues or updates at any time—without taking employees offline and interrupting their workflow.

Unattended access features include:

  • Multi-platform and cross-device unattended remote access sessions for PC, Mac, and Android
    • Install and deploy updates on off hours
    • Fix an issue while the employee is offline
    • Easily set up and assign company and user devices

Case in point: If you have point of sale (POS) systems, tablets, or Android devices that need support without a user present, just connect to these devices and support them as if you were sitting in front of them.

Security First—Always

Of course, whether background access or unattended access, there is risk. That’s why it’s important to work with a provider that ensures remote access security. With a security-first mindset, GoTo Resolve, for instance, uses a zero trust security architecture to keep all devices safe from malicious actors harming your IT infrastructure. How does it work? Each and every time a remote access action is taken on a remote device, zero trust asks for authentication to ensure the action is legitimate. Compare that to the traditional approach where anything and anyone within a defined IT environment (including hackers) can gain access to the entire IT environment. Zero trust simply locks out malicious actors.

Smart Addition to Remote IT Software Platform

Just as background access and unattended access offer proactive support, so does remote IT management software, aka remote monitoring and management software (RMM). Today, businesses are deploying RMM as background management for devices across their IT infrastructure. There’s perhaps no better way to know what’s happening across your devices and act on incidents without delay.

RMM provides a complete view into the health of each host, ensuring that IT has every device covered. When you consider that 70% of all breaches originating from endpoint devices, RMM is an essential tool. It behooves any business to add background access and unattended access to their remote IT software platform to ensure holistic, seamless management of devices. Working together, they facilitate “eyes” on devices, 24/7, and IT support from anywhere, anytime.

Bottom line—as businesses continue to offer remote or hybrid work options, the need for background access and unattended access will grow. Pairing them with other IT functionality, like RMM, on-demand remote support, camera sharing, and conversational ticketing, and choosing a solution built with zero trust architecture is where the future lies, for greater efficiency, support and security. See how GoTo Resolve, the all-in-one IT management and support software solution, delivers a streamlined way for you to provide the right level of support at the right time.