by Bob Wright
I want you to know that I have been using Wingate for three years now. Recently I upgraded to the latest version, v3.0, of this proxy server. The new features only make the setup even easier and once again reassuring of the quality of the proxy.
Wingate is a complete firewall/proxy server. So, what does that really mean? In simple terms it allows multiple computers connected together on a network to access the Internet using a single, or multiple, Internet connections. One computer on a network can connect using a dialup modem, cable modem, ADSL or even a dedicated T1 line, then this system using Wingate can provide all the other computers on the network access to the Internet.
Wingate also provides a firewall, a control over who or what computers may access from the network to the Internet and to control/stop Internet users from accessing the network through the connection. This can be done on many levels with Wingate, using name assuming or aliasing, IP address controls based on the IP address of the networks computers or by passwords. This is important to keep unwanted Internet users from accessing through the proxy into your network and computers on the network.
The important part about Wingate is the ease with which it is setup. During the setup phase it requested some simple information concerning my Pop mail server address, my news server address and my IRC server address. It was just that simple. Oh, you do need to be sure you have setup an IP address for your network card =>TCP/IP driver, but I read the instructions carefully and this process is simple and well documented.
Now, after rebooting the server, it was time to add the clients to the network. This is done by running the same setup application on the client machines, the other computers on the network without Internet access. You simple choose the install client option during setup. This new version 3.0 adds a great feature not seen in Wingate before, a simulated dialup program for the clients. This produces a clean connectivity and the appearance of connecting with the clients that seems as though you have a modem. The client setup is very simple, just run the application and handles the entire configuration.
Once Wingate has been installed on the Network, any computer accesses the Internet as though it has a direct connection. I should mention that installing Wingate, either server or client under Windows95 will require you update the system to Winsock2, but the upgrade file is available for download on the Wingate web site.
The only draw back to using a proxy server on a network will be the speed of data transfer across the network and the understanding that all the computers will share the single bandwidth of the connection. Using a 56k modem, 10Mb Network cards is not an issue, though sharing bandwidth can be bothersome, (my sons 5 & 7 have a tendency to run Real Player watching cartoon movies and it can eat up my bandwidth). Faster connections rarely feel the bandwidth issue, though they can be restricted by the speed of the network. If you are using a cable modem or ADSL connection, I highly recommend 100Mb network cards and hubs.
Once Wingate has been installed, there is an application on the server called ‘Gatekeeper.’ Gatekeeper allows the server to monitor who is using the network, set access controls for each user, restrict who can access the network from outside of the network and restrict what features client machines may use, such as IRC, Telnet or the Web. We even have configured our network to allow my sons access to AOL via TCP/IP through the network, Wingate and direct to AOL. Once Wingate has been installed, it becomes nearly invisible, except for the icon that appears in the tray of the server. Wingate starts when the server boots and runs quietly with little resource usage in the background.
This is a very versatile proxy server and I highly recommend it, especially for the price they ask. One Internet connection and all your network client machines have Internet access for the cost of the proxy server. Once again, I give Wingate my highest approval, I use it myself.