Network Magic Helps Manage Home Networks, Computers

 
 
By Eric Lundquist  |  Posted 2006-12-08 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Network Magic Helps Manage Home Networks, Computers

Consumer-oriented tool troubleshoots, solves problems

by Daniel P. Dern (dern@pair.com)

Vendor: Pure Networks, Inc. Product Name: Network Magic 4.0 Price (MSRP): $29.99 for 3PC (free version also available) Availability: Version 3.3 now, Version 4 soon Product URL: http://networkmagic.com/

Tech Requirements: Windows (98 SE or later ); MSIE 5.5 or later

Home networks -- wireless, printers, shared files -- can be even more of management challenge than home PCs.

Pure Networks' Network Magic, despite its less-than-informative name, is intended to help solve "home networking hassles" -- especially

for the tech-unsavvy, including wireless configuration and security, and local and remote file sharing (e.g. photos) and access.

At $29.95 for use on up to three systems -- with a free

less-featured version also available -- you're likely to get

your money's worth within one or two trouble-fixing sessions.

The current version helps troubleshoot things like Internet

connectivity, including not-always-obvious basics like "check cables" to an automatic problem resolver which did, in fact, help resolve some transient glitch after I'd rebooted my router. It also generates a map of visible computers and peripherals.

The upcoming new 4.0 version, which was being shown and demoed at

Ziff-Davis' October 2006 Digital Life Expo in New York City, includes some wireless set-up and security -- MAC filtering, a more brute-force solution than WEP or WAP to keeping intruders out, and fine for low-change home environments. Given that

most wireless equipment is apparently returned because the buyer couldn't get it to work, this sounds like a good thing.

Network Magic can also do some interesting distributed-family things, like make digital pictures of your kids safely available from your computer to family and friends in other locations, e.g. coming up as the screen saver, without having to go through a photo-sharing site.

It can also set up one-click computer-to-computer backups, to hedge

against a system failing, and do WAN and LAN speed tests.

Network Magic's not perfect -- it didn't find ZoneAlarm when checking for anti-virus on my system, it tells me I need some "critical Windows updates" but won't tell me which, and wants me

to turn Windows Updates on (which I don't).

In principle, you can do most or all of this with tools that come with Windows, or with home routers, etc., concedes Lydia Waldo,

Marketing Manager for Pure Software. However, that doesn't mean it's always easy or obvious. For example, "A lot of users

don't understand user-mode access rights, which you have to know to

share a folder," Waldo points out.

 
 
 
 
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