Soft routers: Doing more for less

By Steve Janss, Network World |  Operating Systems

For most people, the word "router" conjures up the image of a chunk of silicon and steel racked somewhere between their subnet and far horizons. Today's high-speed routers are great for large corporate networks, but they can break the budgets of smaller companies. With a few network cards and the right software, however, you can turn any good PC into a capable router -- and more -- at a fraction of the cost of your traditional router. When you consider that traditional corporate routers with security can cost $4,000 or more, spending half that on a fast PC and some software makes
sense -- especially if you don't plan to use all the features of the higher-priced offering.

Tiny Software's WinRoute Pro and Vicomsoft's Internet Gateway are ideal for connecting hundreds of users to the Internet via dial up, ISDN, cable modem, asymmetric DSL, T-1 and beyond. Anyone familiar with IP networking basics should have no trouble putting either of these two products to immediate use connecting, protecting and supporting their organization.

Tiny package -- big punch

Tiny's WinRoute Pro Version 4.1 is a router; a network address translation (NAT)-based pass-through firewall with VPN support, URL filtering and port mapping; a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server with Domain Name System (DNS) forwarding; a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol/Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) mail server with aliasing; a proxy server; and an HTTP cache utilizing a single file to preserve hard drive space.

E-mail

Here's a few tips to help you get started with the e-mail server of Tiny Software's WinRoute Pro: Enter your ISP's outgoing mail server into the Relay SMTP server field under the General tab. If you have a domain, enter it in the space provided. Use the Remote POP3 tab to enable WinRoute to receive "blind-forwarded" e-mail from your ISP, and distribute it to your respective user accounts. If you have an Internet domain, you can set it to receive e-mail via SMTP or from any POP3 account. However, if you're using SMTP, you must map the TCP protocol Port 25 to the internal IP address of your WinRoute machine.

DSL and PPPoE: Although PPP over Ethernet (PPPoE) support isn't built into WinRoute Pro, it should work fine with external PPPoE equipment such as that often used with various DSL connections. Tiny has thoughtfully provided some specific PPPoE solutions in its online manual.

This tidy package installs onto any Windows operating system, occupying just 22M bytes of hard drive space and less than 5M bytes of RAM.

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