Attended and Unattended Remote Support: The Difference Explained

Efficiency and productivity are the foundation of all successful managed services providers (MSPs), but they’re especially important for your customer service and IT support activities. Ensuring the remote support you offer is both high-quality and efficient will increase customer satisfaction, cement your reputation for dependability, and encourage long-term customer loyalty.

To best support your customers, it’s important to help them understand the nuances of remote support. While your customers may have encountered the terms “attended remote support” and “unattended remote support,” it’s very possible they don’t understand the real difference between the two. While these remote support services are similar, it’s helpful if your customers understand they’re not the same. To help you guide your customers through these concepts, this article will provide examples and use cases for both remote support types to better identify how you can provide the best possible customized support.

What is remote support?

To begin, start by familiarizing your customers with what a remote support session is. True to its name, remote support refers to a type of customer support service IT support engineers and technicians can provide entirely by remote access. In other words, remote support means support staff can access an end user’s computer without being physically present.

Technicians can establish remote support sessions in several ways. For example, the IT support technician might provide the customer with initial instructions outlining how to enable screen sharing, or MSPs can leverage remote support software to take control of the customer’s device from afar.

What’s the difference between unattended and attended remote support?

If you’re considering using a remote support solution, the first question you’ll need to ask yourself is whether your customers need unattended remote support, attended remote support, or both. Here’s an outline of their key differences and some relevant use cases.


Attended remote support solutions typically involve the end user using a device or application that requires immediate and direct support. An attended remote support solution will allow you to provide support to your clients as soon as an issue occurs. Your support technicians will be able to access the end user’s device remotely, so they can troubleshoot and rectify the issue as quickly as possible.

With this type of remote access support, the end user must be present with their device in order to authorize access to your technicians. Methods of authorization will vary between solutions. As an example, the end user might be required to generate a session code. This code is then given to the technician so they can gain instant access to the device. As the phrase “attended remote support” suggests, this type of remote support requires both the technician and the end user to be in attendance for issues to get resolved.


Attended remote support solutions are perfect for customer service teams and IT help desks. This type of remote access solution lets you gain rapid, firsthand insight into any issues so your technicians can solve them quickly and efficiently. In general, attended remote support solutions are a great way to minimize costs and improve customer satisfaction. The main disadvantage of attended remote support is, however, what you might expect—the end user must be “in attendance.” An end user must be physically with their device to authorize access, which isn’t always the most convenient option. Explaining to customers how to enable and authorize remote access can also be a challenge and potential obstacle for IT support technicians hoping to provide rapid support.


Unattended remote support requires the prior installation of a lightweight agent on the remote servers or devices you manage. Once you implement the remote agent, your support technicians will be able to connect to and work on these devices at any time, whether the end user is in attendance or not.

Most companies use unattended remote support solutions if they need to provide routine maintenance or regular support services on customer devices. While companies use attended remote support to deliver immediate assistance, unattended remote support is designed to help you manage IT infrastructure on an ongoing basis—which usually includes troubleshooting non-urgent problems and installing updates.

If you want to use unattended remote support, your IT manager or technician will need to start by sending out a download link to all the devices you want to support. This will allow customers to install the remote support software. Once the remote agent is installed on all relevant devices, the technician can connect at any time and from anywhere, whether the end user is present or not.


An unattended remote support solution is ideal for MSPs, internal IT teams, and any IT services providers. This may not be the best solution for immediate customer needs, but this type of remote support allows you to manage and provide ongoing support to both your own company’s devices and your customers’ devices.

Choosing the right remote support solution

If you still aren’t sure which type of remote support is best suited to your business, or you think you might need both, N-able® Take Control is the ideal remote access solution. This tool includes both attended and unattended support capabilities and can make remote connections in just a few seconds.

SolarWinds Take Control also includes support for Android and iOS mobile devices, features live chat, and can deliver rapid file transfers. To keep your MSP business at the forefront of your customers’ minds, the tool offers a brandable and intuitive user experience. With advanced and user-friendly troubleshooting capabilities, Take Control is a great choice if you’re looking for a remote support solution flexible enough to provide both attended and unattended remote support. To learn more, start by taking advantage of Take Control’s 90-day free trial today.

Want to stay up to date?

Get the latest MSP tips, tricks, and ideas sent to your inbox each week.

Loading form....

If the form does not load in a few seconds, it is probably because your browser is using Tracking Protection. This is either an Ad Blocker plug-in or your browser is in private mode. Please allow tracking on this page to request a trial.

Note: Firefox users may see a shield icon to the left of the URL in the address bar. Click on this to disable tracking protection for this session/site