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Internet Connection Sharing Made Simple
By Alena Markova
Connect Your Entire LAN to the Internet with a Single IP Address Simply and Securely.
If you want to connect a local area network (LAN) in your office to the Internet today, you have a number of options to choose from. The simplest is to buy a small stand-alone router or gateway. These devices are inexpensive, reliable and mostly plug-and-play. If you know what you’re doing, you can configure a router and network in less than an hour. However, this might not be your best choice.
There are significant reasons why a router is not the best solution. How secure does your data need to be? Do you need (or would like) to know exactly how much Internet traffic each of your PCs consumes? Do you have priority traffic that must get through? Do you have employees that might be using the Internet for purposes other than work?
A simple hardware gateway will not satisfy these conditions. You could invest a small fortune for a sophisticated device that would satisfy some of these and still not have the optimum solution.
An alternative to expensive hardware is setting up a dedicated computer to control Internet access and connectivity. In this case, your choice is economically limited to one of two platforms: *nix or Windows. While *nix (Unix, Linux, FreeBSD, etc) is technically terrific for the task, it is not as cost effective in a typical company with a multitude of Windows PCs. A *nix system bears a very important drawback: you will either have to hire a system administrator to manage it, or be unable to fine-tune Internet access and constantly risk network failure.
Using a dedicated Windows PC to control how your LAN users access the Internet is the only remaining choice.
While Windows itself provides a limited set of basic connectivity features, you will need to purchase and set up dedicated gateway server to use advanced features. UserGate 4.1 by Entensys is a proxy server for Windows that is not only the simplest gateway server to configure and use, but also has all the advanced features your company may require.
There are two ways UserGate can share an Internet connection among your LAN users. One way is to configure
it as a gateway, very similar to stand-alone hardware routers. UserGate supports NAT and port mapping in order to share a single IP address between multiple LAN users. Using NAT requires no additional configuration on client computers, and is the fastest way to set up Internet access.
If you want more advanced features such as caching your Internet connections, you can set up a User Gate Proxy Server. The proxy server automatically caches the web resources your LAN users access most often, saving significant Internet bandwidth and seriously increasing access speeds.
There is no way for your LAN users to bypass UserGate to access the Internet, so you can create powerful rules to control user access to certain resources or protocols.
You can also set up content filtering to block unwanted Web sites, resources, or specific file extensions (such as MP3 music).
Your LAN is always protected from external attacks by UserGate's built-in firewall. The built-in anti-virus quickly scans all Internet traffic to protect your network from spyware, viruses and malicious software.
If you have different kinds of traffic, such as VoIP, you can easily limit the maximum bandwidth for every user in order to ensure that time-sensitive clients get the necessary bandwidth. You can also limit the connection speed for any network user and can control the maximum load of your Internet connection.
UserGate keeps complete statistics on every LAN user, including the list of visited URLs and their online time.
Its built-in billing makes UserGate a perfect solution for splitting a single Internet connection between several users.
The latest version adds VPN support, providing the same connection sharing and statistics features for private and public networks. Support of VPN and transparent proxy makes UserGate a perfect solution for safe and secure Internet connection sharing.
UserGate is powerful, user-friendly and simple to use. Download your free evaluation version at: http://www.entensys.com/
by Alena Markova