Building a Home Network - Proxy Software

The final component for our home network solution is an Internet proxy utility. There are many proxy servers available for the Windows environment, three will be discussed here: Microsoft Proxy Server 2.0, WinProxy, and WinGate. The Microsoft Proxy server is only available when running Windows NT Server, and costs nine-hundred and nintey-nine dollars - this is a very high end solutions, one that is beyond our requirements.

Winproxy by Ositis Corporation has won awards from Windows Magazine. Winproxy will run under either Windows 95 or NT and is reasonably priced at sixty dollars for a version that will allow access from three computers in addition to the server. This level of access is perfect for our environment. WinGate by Deerfield Corporation also offers a product that will run under either Windows 95 or NT. It is free for use on a single server with one additional computer connecting. The cost increases to sixty dollars for two users and the server and to one hundred and ten dollars for five users plus the server.

Each of these proxy servers provides slightly different features, but the primary functions are similar. The main purpose of the proxy server is to allow multiple workstations to share a single Internet connection. Another feature that is important in our 'home with children' environment is logging of site accesses. Rather than employing a product that attempts to block access to undesirable sites, the proxy will log access automatically. This encourages family trust. If it becomes necessary, the proxy can be configured to block access too. The last major benefit to our environment is automatic ISP login. When access to the Internet is requested by any of the workstations, the proxy automatically logs on to the configured connection. By hiding details such as required passwords, this feature eases access to the Internet by the family.

Each vendor claims to have very simple installation and configuration instructions. Additional information can be found at their web sites, and also in the article by Furnival.

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By Robert Corfman - 06/13/98