Linksys BEFSR41
SonicWall SOHO
Belkin OmniCube
Cybex SwitchView


Sonicwall SOHO 
Price: $400



Ease of Use:

Rating: 1

Pros: Easy to set up, secure, upgradeable
Cons: Pricey for home use, lacking in support. 


    If you are looking for a firewall for your home office or small office, consider this box. It may be small, but there's a big firewall hiding in there. The size is about the same as a VHS tape, and it can easily be hidden away on top of a hub or mounted on a wall. This little blue box does everything you'd expect from a firewall. It blocks, logs, alerts, reports and forwards traffic as you please. The basic box is a firewall only, but you can buy upgrades to add VPN functionality, add licenses and also a new anti-virus scanning feature. The Sonicwall SOHO/10 supports up to 10 internal IP addresses. If you need more, you have to go to the Sonicwall/50. There is also the Sonicwall SOHO Telecommuter, which supports only 5 IP address, but comes with the VPN feature.

    The initial setup is aided by a configuration wizard. Collect all the info you need, hook the box up to your internet router (cable modem or DSL modem), plug your computer into one of the 4 ports on the built-in hub, and start it up. Fill in the blanks as you go along with the wizard, and you should have a fully configured and working firewall inside of 10 minutes.

    Management is done with web browser. Simply enter the IP address of the Sonicwall box as the address in the browser, and you'll get to the management interface. There is a password, be sure not to forget it! The manual should be able to get you through most of the configuration you need done; for a simple LAN it really isn't that difficult. If you're looking to something more difficult, a little planning might be in order. 

    It supports static and dynamic IP addresses, it can be used as a DHCP server for your network and even has reservations ... It does Network Address Translation, NAT with PPPoE and also 1-to-1 NAT, so if you have bought several IP addresses from your ISP, you can easily map them. The diagnostic tools are helpful when you're having networking troubles; you can test connectivity with pings, check routes with traceroute, test DNS lookups and so forth. 

    The logging feature will log any attempts at getting to your computer. If you have a syslog server, you can have the log-entries forwarded there. This option apparently provides more information than the internal logging. I haven't tested this. You can select what you want logged or not. Personally, I'm getting tired of big logs with 99% dropped ICMP entries... There's also reporting, which is somewhat limited, but it gives you some indication of where traffic is going to.

    There is also a content filtering feature. This is a service that you have to subscribe to (which is more money). You will then get a list of sites that have been rated, and you can choose who gets to see what type of website or not ... you can also restrict ActiveX, java and cookies.

    For gaming, it's the same as any type of router or firewall. With the default rule enabled, you should be able to play most games. I don't have a list of what works and what doesn't, but if it works on other devices, it works on the Sonicwall.

    Now, this firewall might be a bit pricey for home use, but if you are concerned about security, and want the best, then this is it. It really is worth every penny. I have 5 of these boxes in the field right now, and they are not giving me any problems at all. You can even update the firmware through a VPN connection! And for those who thinks stealth is the best thing since sliced bread; the Sonicwall now also has a stealth mode.

Now, if I could only get my hands on a SonicWall2...