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LAN & WAN Reviews

Introduction

Update 12/2006: McAfee Wireless Home Network Security is no longer available:

Setting up a small LAN isn't always easy for the newbie. While both Microsoft and Apple have made big strides in their latest operating systems with respect to sharing folders and printers, it still can be a daunting task, especially if you are using earlier OS versions or mixing non XP and MacOS X systems into the network. Two companies are trying to make it even easier with some software solutions. And while they get points for trying, they both still have a long way to go before network setup is as easy as turning on your computer.

The two products are Network Magic from Pure Networks and Wireless Home Network Security from McAfee Software. Both products work with all versions of Windows since 98 SE, which is a definitely plus if you are dealing with the older OS versions and their less capable (not to mention less familiar or forgotten) networking features. They do different things, but they try to accomplish the same task: making the operations of your network router / firewall / gateway / wireless access point transparent to the least skilled person who happens to be administering the network.

Of the two, Network Magic has more going for it. You can easily see who is connected to your network, where your shared folders and printers are located, and even see your files across the Internet if you can set up a special feature that shares the files out from your LAN and across a broadband connection. It doesn't have any wireless-specific features, however.

On the flip side, Wireless Home Network Security's only adds value to wireless networks, where its sole focus is to automate the process of setting up a WEP or WPA-secured WLAN.

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