Netgear touts this router as capable of web content filtering but in reality it’s just performing URL blocking using keywords. Each LAN and wireless client can be placed in one of eight groups and access policies applied to selected groups. You create a list of keywords and then choose the groups they will be applied to. In practice it works well enough but only one keyword list is supported so you can’t use different lists for each group. The router can also block ActiveX controls, Java applets, cookies and web proxies but this is a blanket policy applied to all users.
The firewall can be customized with a variety of rules for controlling inbound and outbound traffic. These are used to block or allow specific traffic and Netgear provides an extensive list of predefined services. You can also use one of three time schedules to determine when they are active and choose from five different priorities for basic QoS (Quality of Service).
VPN support is particularly good as the price includes fifty site-to-site and mobile client tunnels. A wizard at the router makes light work of configuring either type although the confusing documentation supplied with the SafeNet client utility merely strengthens our argument that SSL-VPNs are the way to go for mobile clients.
Netgear claims the router is fully SNMP manageable although we weren’t impressed with the levels of information on offer. We tested this using Ipswitch’s excellent WhatsUp Professional SNMP monitoring software and found that we could check for general device availability and gather some information about interface utilization. However, the main problem is that Netgear has set the router’s SNMP MIB ‘ifSpeed’ value for all ports at 100Mbps. Consequently, the WhatsUp graphing tool couldn’t show any meaningful activity for the ADSL port as it thought all the interfaces were running at Fast Ethernet speeds.
Wireless security is good as you get the full range of WEP and WPA/WPA2 encryption options plus support for authentication via an external RADIUS server. Some may see the lack of wireless-n support as a drawback but we don’t consider this an issue. The 802.11n standard is still a long way from being ratified and implementing this in a business environment is still too risky. Naturally, performance is a casualty with our real world tests delivering a modest 20.4Mbps over a two metre encrypted link with a Supermicro 3.2GHz Pentium D workstation on the LAN.
Netgear’s ProSafe DGFV338 is a tempting proposition for small businesses looking for a low cost firewall with integral ADSL modem and WAN failover facilities. IPSec VPNs are still a pain to set up and the URL filtering isn’t anything special but the wireless access point does make it look good overall value.