Top Virtual Network Computing (VNC) Free Software Downloads

The Best Screen-Sharing Software

Virtual Network Computing (VNC) technology enables sharing a copy of one computer's screen display with another computer over a network connection. Also known as remote desktop sharing, VNC is typically used by people wanting to monitor or control a computer from a remote location rather than just accessing shared files.

The following free software packages provide VNC functionality. VNC software consists of a client user interface plus a server that manages connections to clients and sends desktop images. Some applications only support Windows PCs, while others are portable across different types of network devices.

VNC systems use network authentication to guard the connections initiated between clients and a server, but the remote desktop data subsequently sent over these connections is usually not encrypted. Those wanting to also protect the data can use free SSH utilities together with a VNC system.

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The TightVNC Server and Viewer use special data encoding techniques designed to better support lower-speed network connections. First released in 2001, the latest versions of TightVNC run on all modern flavors of Windows, and a Java version of the Viewer is also available.

Download TightVNC

What We Like
  • Free to download and install.

  • Very easy to learn and use.

  • Simple to configure on remote machines.

  • Small footprint (consumes little system resources).

What We Don't Like
  • Screen updates can lag at times.

  • Consumes more network resources than other VNC alternatives.

  • Application appearance is somewhat outdated.

  • Lacks advanced features offered by other VNC apps.

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The creation of TigerVNC software was initiated by Red Hat with the goal of improving on TightVNC. TigerVNC development started from a snapshot of TightVNC code and has expanded support to include Linux and Mac as well as Windows, plus various performance and security enhancements.

Download TigerVNC

What We Like
  • Works on all OS platforms.

  • Faster response than most other VNC alternatives.

  • Extensions available for advanced authentication and encryption.

  • Large online user community.

What We Don't Like
  • Advanced features may require a learning curve for new users.

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RealVNC Free Edition

The company RealVNC sells commercial versions of its VNC products (Personal Edition and Enterprise Edition) but also supplies this open-source Free Edition. This free client is not officially supported on Windows 7 or Vista PCs, but workaround procedures might allow it to function. RealVNC also sells (but not does provide a free version of) its VNC Viewer for iPhone and iPad on the Apple app store.

Download RealVNC Free Edition

What We Like
  • Free to install and use.

  • Lightweight and fast.

  • Any VNC client can connect to a RealVNC server.

  • Available for multiple platforms.

What We Don't Like
  • May experience performance issues inside corporate networks.

  • Configuration is more advanced than other VNC alternatives.

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UltraVNC (uVNC) and ChunkVNC

Developed by a small team of volunteers, UltraVNC is an open source VNC system that works similarly to RealVNC but supports Windows 7 and Vista clients. A companion software package called ChunkVNC adds remote control functionality to the UltraVNC viewer.

Download UltraVNC (uVNC) and ChunkVNC

What We Like
  • Free to download and use.

  • File transfers are fast and easy.

  • Includes a chat window to talk to remote users.

  • Ideal for advanced VNC users.

What We Don't Like
  • More complicated than other VNC alternatives.

  • Only available for Windows PCs.

  • Performance issues on busy networks.

  • Lacks multimonitor support.

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Chicken (of the VNC)

Based on an older software package called Chicken of the VNC, Chicken is an open source VNC client for Mac OS X. The Chicken package does not include any VNC server functionality, nor does the client run on any other operating system than Mac OS X. Chicken can be paired with various VNC servers including UltraVNC.

Download Chicken (of the VNC)

What We Like
  • Lightweight and fast.

  • Automatically discovers VNC servers on a network.

  • Strong encryption features.

  • Remote screen updates are very accurate.

What We Don't Like
  • Only available for Mac PCs.

  • Only includes a VNC client.

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JollysFastVNC is a shareware VNC client for Mac created by software developer Patrick Stein. While the developer strongly encourages regular users to purchase a license, the software is free to try. JollysFastVNC is designed for speed (responsiveness) of remote desktop sessions and also integrates SSH tunneling support for security.

Download JollysFastVNC

What We Like
  • Ultra-fast.

  • Supports many encryption protocols.

  • Supports full Retina display.

  • Intuitive window scaling.

What We Don't Like
  • No permanent free version available.

  • Only available for Mac PCs.

  • Does not support multiple monitors.

  • Complicated configuration for beginners.

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SmartCode VNC Web Access

SmartCode Solutions provides this hosted Web page demonstrating how a browser running their ViewerX client software can be used as a VNC client. The SmartCode ViewerX products are not free, but this demonstration client can be used freely from Windows PCs using an ActiveX-control enabled browser like Internet Explorer.

Download SmartCode VNC Web Access

What We Like
  • Easy to configure and use.

  • Accurate screen updates.

  • Lots of extra features and integrations available.

  • Ideal for network administrators.

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive for nonbusiness users.

  • Only available for Windows PCs.

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Mocha VNC Lite

Mochasoft provides both a full commercial (pay, not free) version and this free Lite version of its VNC client for Apple iPhone and iPad. Compared to the full version, Mocha VNC Lite lacks support for special key sequences (like Ctrl-Alt-Del) and some mouse functions (like right-click or click-and-drag). The company has tested this client with various VNC servers including RealVNC, TightVNC and UltraVNC.

Download Mocha VNC Lite

What We Like
  • Available for both iOS and Android.

  • Can connect to servers running on various platforms.

  • Supports zooming as well as portrait or landscape modes.

  • Good performance and speed.

What We Don't Like
  • Has a five-minute session time limit.

  • No support for multimonitors.

  • Free version only supports standard keyboard keys.

  • Session traffic is unencrypted.

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Echoagent Systems designed EchoVNC to be a "firewall friendly" remote desktop package based on UltraVNC. However, the extensions in EchoVNC for improved firewall compatibility rely on a proxy server system called "echoServer" that is a separate, commercial product.

Download EchoVNC

What We Like
  • Client works with any VNC server.

  • Easy to configure regardless of firewall setup.

  • Very easy to set up.

  • VNC user and installation guides are available.

What We Don't Like
  • Only available for Windows PCs.

  • Only works with Windows or Mac VNC servers.

  • Disorganized, confusing user interface.