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WinGate 4.1.1

Internet Connection sharing software solution
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Date: 2001-02-15 09:22
Author: Brent
Category: Software
Manufacturer: Deerfield
Product/Model: WinGate 4.1.1
List Price: varies, $39 to $949

You may or may not have heard of If you havenít keep in mind they are a leading provider of some awesome home and business networking software.  Some very famous software packages have come from which include, FTP-Serv U, DNS 2 Go, MDaemon, Internet Neighborhood, Internet Quick, MailScan, Relay Fax, World Client and of course the one which we are reviewing here today, Wingate.

Wingate, in the past and at present, is one of the leading Internet Sharing (NAT/Proxy) programs in existence; itís very popular one of the top names in Proxy/NAT software.

Before we delve into this software package in depth, lets define some terminology and technologies so that you can figure out just exactly what Wingate is for and what it does. I used the term NAT and Proxy in the above paragraph.  Lets define just exactly what these terms mean.

NAT stands for Network Address Translation, what this means is to be able to translate from one external IP (such as your Internet IP) to an Internal network of many clients each with their own unique Internal LAN IPs.  And it allows for the reverse to happen, the many client PCís with unique Internal LAN IPs to be translated to one Single Internet/External IP. One of the main reasons we want to do this Internet sharing of one IP these days is because of the finite number of IPís available in the world with the current IPv4 standard.  Lets say you have 10 computers in your house and they are all networked on an Internal TCP/IP LAN with unique IPís on a unique subnet, now lets say you just bought that brand new cable modem but you only get one IP with it and you want to have all your computers share the Internet connection, but you cannot afford to buy a unique IP for each computer from your Cable company. Well nowís the chance to setup that NAT server!  With NAT running on one machine you will be able to have all your clients connected through a Hub to the NAT server and they can all access the Internet even though they donít have unique external IPs from the cable company, because the NAT translates the Internal IPís to the one Cable IP making it completely transparent to the user and everyone will be happily surfing the web at the same time. 

A proxy is any device that acts on behalf of another. The term is most often used to denote Web proxying. A Web proxy acts as a "half-way" Web server: network clients make requests to the proxy, which then makes requests on their behalf to the appropriate Web server. Proxy technology is often seen as an alternative way to provide shared access to a single Internet connection. The main benefits of Web proxying are:

         Local caching: a proxy can store frequently-accessed pages on its local hard disk; when these pages are requested, it can serve them from its local files instead of having to download the data from a remote Web server. Proxies that perform caching are often called caching proxy servers.

         Network bandwidth conservation: if more than one client requests the same page, the proxy can make one request only to a remote server and distribute the received data to all waiting clients.

Both these benefits only become apparent in situations where multiple clients are very likely to access the same sites and so share the same data.  Unlike NAT, Web proxying is not a transparent operation: its clients must explicitly support it. Due to early adoption of Web proxying, most browsers, including Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator, have built-in support for proxies, but this must normally be configured on each client machine, and may be changed by the naive or malicious user.  Proxies are used on very very large networks, like 1,000 computers or so needing to share one Internet connection.

One other technology that is very important in Wingate is its Firewall capability.  Simply put a Firewall protects you by closing/hiding ports and other similar methods to avoid security vulnerabilities.  There are hardware and software firewalls out there, a hardware firewall is the kind that is built into hardware devices such as Routers, on the other hand a software firewall is one that is software based, such as what Wingate uses.  Itís much more powerful then the ones like BlackICE or ZoneAlarm.

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