The SWSOHOTC is powered by a Motorola MC68360 33 Mhz processor that is powerful enough to handle network traffic from multiple users with ease. This specific model is limited to 5 nodes, but other models offer 10, 50 or unlimited users. I’ve tested it with three machines accessing the Internet at the same time, running ftp uploads, http downloads, live media streaming, chat, multi-player gaming etc., most of it at the same time, and didn’t run into a single hiccup.
In my quest for the perfect security solution for my home network I’ve tried several options, both software based (Zone Alarm) and hardware based (Linksys BEFSR-41 and Netgear RT311). All three presented different problems that made me keep looking. Zone Alarm interfered with my ability to access other machines on my local network, the Linksys router could not handle online multi-player gaming and would drop the connection on a regular basis, the Netgear router would handle gaming better (yet not perfect) but it would drop the connection from the router to the LAN periodically without apparent reason. Firmware upgrades for the latter two did not correct the issues, forcing me to continue my search for the perfect product. The SWSOHOTC has not shown any similar symptoms, and its network performance has been flawless.
After the initial configuration and enabling stealth mode, I headed over to http://grc.com for a little shield and port probing. The SonicWALL passed those tests without any problems.
Looking at the log file occasionally you might be amazed at the amount of attempted attacks and port scans that the firewall catches on a regular basis. Being on a cable modem it’s not a big surprise, but seeing 4 Smurf Attacks, 3 port scans, and 2 Land attacks within only the last 5 hours makes you wonder. There is of course always the possibility of false positives, but how does that age-old saying go? “Better safe than sorry!”
The only issues I ran into with the SWSOHOTC were minor. After not using the admin interface for a day or two I’d lose access to it, even though the unit continued to function as normal. A quick power cycle remedied the issue so far every time and a subsequent firmware update (version 5.1.0) seemed to fix this problem for good. A problem with not receiving the log file via e-mail was also resolved with the help of support.
An e-mail to tech support inquiring about these issues was answered very courteously within 24 hours by a real human being that seemed competent. Follow-up questions to the support engineer (direct e-mail address provided) were also answered within a day or two and treated with interest and the willingness to help. Kudos to Kevin and John at SonicWALL.
What else can I say? By now you probably got the idea that I’m very satisfied with the SonicWALL SOHO Telecommuter. It has provided me with all the features I was looking for in a firewall/gateway/router, and then some. Its performance has been rock solid. Contacting support was a positive experience. The manual is well written and easy to use for both beginners and professionals. The admin interface is very user-friendly. The SWSOHOTC is definitely worth the money and I highly recommend it for both the home user that needs VPN functionality as well as for small offices that need to protect their network. I believe the quest for the optimal firewall for my home network has ended.
Props to Julie at SonicWALL for providing me with an evaluation unit.
Submitted by: Alex “crazygerman” Byron