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on December 27, 2005
(NOTE: please see new info at the end of this review)

I have been running several (5) FVS318 devices, all versions, on my internal network for many years now. I have found them to be stable and reliable and easy to configure. They also play well with other networking devices such as firewalls from other manufactures (as in setting up and maintaining secure internal VPN channels between them).

VPN performance does falloff considerably with stricter encryption, so internally across trusted subnets and through wireless channels I move unclassified data using DES.
The FVS also streams telemetry via syslog, so its easy to keep track of everything. The device, however, does not have a secure local configuration option (remote admin is supported via SSL, though).

Remote (aggressive mode) VPN works fine with this device, with Netgear's VPN client software. The built-in VPN client in Windows XP Pro doesn't seem to want to play with the FVS318. The Remote Identity Type of FQDN or FQUN required for remote access don't match up with the options available under XP Pro. Really, it seems the FVS318 could have offered a Remote Identity Type of IP Address & allow IP Any ( but alas it doesn't (perhaps to sell more client software?). Since I had the client software, however, I didn't pursue that option exhaustively. But off the cuff I don't see it as workable.

Overall, the FVS318 is a good basic internal subnet firewall, except in cases where syslog forwarding out the WAN port is called for: none of the FVS318 versions (1,2,or 3) apparently supports this fundamental operation, that I have seen anyway.

I would not recommend purchasing the device online from anywhere as it is impossible to tell which version (1 - 3) that you will end up with. The differences are significant, and deal with the hardware as well as the firmware.
3 stars

UPDATE NOTE: for information regarding the various versions of the FVS318 including identification please refer to the netgear web site (netgear dot com), finding the fvs318 in the 'Product Finder' and then clicking on the 'Support' link (which is in the same panel as the 'Product Finder'). The product version information will be displayed.
Version is by serial number, and this serial number is found on the unit itself as well as on the external side of the retail box.
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on August 17, 2003
I have been using the Netgear FVS318 router firewall for over a month now with not one glitch. For the money, this is an amazing bargain considering it is a true SPI firewall and a certified ipsec VPN endpoint for eight tunnels included with a eight port switch! The quality of Netgear products are also commendable.
We had it up and running in less than fifteen minutes. My son configured two ipsec vpn tunnels with his friends networks using Linksys VPN routers in short order and I have one configured to my Windows 2000 computer at work that is behind a nat router using Windows 2000 built in ipsec capabilities. All three of our ipsec tunnels have proven to be reliable. I also have no problems using remote desktop through port 3389 or going to my pptp Windows 2000 vpn server through port 1723 behind the FVS318.
We have not experienced any of the problems that other reviewers have, but we have experience configuring these kinds of devices. The FVS318 has fairly extensive built in logging though it does not store much information itself but it can be configured to transfer log information to another computer and can even send you an email alert if certain attacks are detected. It has configurable services based on ports and protocols that are used to create port forwarding to inbound services and block outbound services. However you are limited to 16 services. It can control outbound traffic which is very important to defend against undetected trojans or users [and kids] running things like file swapping or other unapproved applications that access the internet. Internet access can be even controlled by a day/time schedule. If your network is fairly simple, a default block all rule could be created [which must be at the end of the list] and then you can specify what outbound services are allowed. It is also possible to deny a computer or address range of computers from having internet access while allowing others full access. Though the block services is a great addition to this device, it is somewhat limited if you have more than a few variations of configurations compared to a more sophisticated [and much more expensive] soho firewall, and the services can not be configured to use certain ip address/subnet destinations for outbound control which should not be a big deal for most home/small office users. However inbound services/port mapping can be configure to come from specific ip address/subnet. That is an important security feature. For instance if you open an internal computer for remote managment, you can configure the FVS318 to accept connections from only one ip address, which will keep everyone else on the internet from trying to connect and guess your password!
I am very impressed with the Netgear FVS318. Being a true SPI firewall and ipsec VPN endpoint with all the other feaures it has in a quality package, I can highly recommend it to anyone that wants a bargain priced internet device that is a big step up from the consumer grade nat routers.
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on July 23, 2008
I have had this for years (the v3), it has run solid as a rock. Setting up static IP routes for Network storage and network printers is a breeze, I used reserved IPs for almost everything on my network and this handles everything you can throw at it. Has been great for a small business, the firewall is solid as well.

Now to the reason I am shopping for its replacement. My internet connection used to top out at 5Mbs and this could handle it fine, however in our area we have now been able to upgrade to an 18Mbs connection, which this cannot handle. The thoroughput on this unit tops at just under 7Mbs, bypassing it and going straight to a cpu hits 18Mbs. It's a shame that this unit is just too slow to handle higher speeds as the world is headed that way.

If you have fast connection or plan to get one you have to avoid this unit as it just can't keep up, which is a shame because that is really its only drawback. If they come out with an updated version of this that can handle my connection I'd switch back, but for now looks like I am headed for the Dlink DGL-4100 as I am told by coworkers who have it that it handles the speed. If that one does or does not work with higher speeds I will put in a review of that one after I try it.
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on April 13, 2004
Hello -
I see that there are a mix of reviews, so I'll try to put my angle in perspective.
I am an advanced home user in the respect that I am pretty knowledgeable about basic networking and have a basic lab at home with three PCs.
Anyway, my needs are strictly limited to (1) providing the most security for my PCs and (2) allowing the networked PCs to see each other when needed.
The FVS318 is one of the few Netgear products that passes the GRC.COM and security scans. No ports open and no responses - total stealth according to those scans. That is important because I have a cable connection and leave my machines running 24x7.
The router has been very stable. I don't think I've ever had to reboot it in the past year.
Most of the newer Netgear products are very poor but this one is still great.
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on March 30, 2011
I recently bought this firewall based on the info i got from Amazon's website. (FVS318v3)
People if your current bandwidth exceeds 7Mbs please do not buy this product.
This firewall's CPU cannot handle anything faster then 7Mbs!!!!

This not stated in the product description and neither on the box so beware.

Unfortunately i realized this after my return window expired so now i am stuck with it. (Bummer)
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on June 17, 2004
This device works great and has been the best of it's kind I've used for the price range. I currently access about 6 of these devices using SofteRemoteLT on a daily basis and I am very pleased with the performance. The VPN is rock solid and great for running terminal services over. If you are looking to send files over your VPN, I only got about a 6Mbps throughput rate when I used Chariot and 3DES to test it in my lab (my Linksys BEFSX41 got about 16Mbps).

For a few of my clients I've even set up "static" tunnels using the FVS318 and Linksys BEFSX41's as "clients". The performance is fantastic and it is the configuration I recommend for people connecting to the office from home. Using DDNS on both the FVS318 and the BEFSX41 work great for dynamic connections.

As for people having connections drop or trouble routing traffic to internal networks, I suggest they read up on how to properly set their key lifetime and learn how to setup static routes. It is also important to realize that you have to have each network on a different subnet in order to route traffic successfully :/ As for those having trouble with port forwarding, I suggest you RTFM. Regardless of your troubles, there are plenty of resources on the web to help you set up rock solid VPN regardless of the make or model.

My only criticism is that the latest firmware v2.4 seems to be a little buggy when using PPPoE. If you connect to a DSL provider using PPPoE I would either downgrade to firmware v2.3 or look for another solution. If you have a DSL provider that doesn't use PPPoE, then enjoy!


Update January 2005: The newer Cisco BEFSX41's are utter junk! Of the three Cisco co-branded BEFSX41's I've installed, none have worked well or at all. I no longer recommend using a BEFSX41 for anything other than target practice ;)
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on October 21, 2003
Beware that the native 9x/Me/NT VPN client will not work at all as they don't support IPSpec. The 2K/XP VPN client will ONLY work from a static IP address to a static IP. If you are connecting from a dynamic IP such as a dial up you will need to purchase additional software such as Netscreen-Remote or SafeNet. Hint: Netscreen is much cheaper!<...
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on August 26, 2002
As of today(8/26/02 @ 22:00 UCT), The KVS318 production firmware on their website is still at 1.00 . My FVS318 routers consistently drop sessions in SSH, TELNET; many SSL logins fail, many JHTML pages fail to load. HTML pages intermittently load slowly, partially or not at all. I had to remove them from our network to resume business.
Their support is unresponsive. If I am able to get through on the phone the support reps are difficult to understand. Their technical support people have, in my experience, misenterpreted questions or problems even when I sent them TCP dumps, traps and logs to support the incident report. It appears English is a second language to their support people, a fact evident in their e-mail and web site support replies. Their answers are unreliable and often recommend disabling a feature like site keyword blocking or forwarding ports to non-existent computers. On their support web site they have closed some of my cases without answers, fixes or workarounds provided.
As of 8/26/02 @ 22:00 UCT, their U.S. support is presently on firmware beta N1.01 with no date available for the production firmware to be available. It fixes a lot of problems but in my opinion is not yet production quality.
For those who have a requirement for a product with features that work as advertised, I recommend against the FVS318. I recommend the DSLREPORTS web site for more information, support topics and user experiences with the FVS318.
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on June 23, 2005
I'm well acquainted with all three hardware versions (1,2,3) of this router. This, also, is my top recommendation to anyone wanting an easy to install, no maintenance security device for home or small business use (under 25 users).

No other product I sell in the under $100 category can even come close to this router. In fact, the next step upgrade would be an over $300 router which all home and most small businesses would not buy, when you have all the performance and features you need in this product at a reduced price level.

I'm not going to rehash the obvious features, like SPI firewall and inbound Intrusion Detection, VPN, etc.., but rather, I'd like to address some acrimonious remarks/reviews with answers below.

1.] There are three firmware versions successively created (1, 2, 3). Netgear didn't plaster the words version 1 on the original boxes. So? Version 2 wasn't marked either, but version 3 is marked no less than 6 times on the box and the box has a green and white front, not the older blue and orange. Netgear is NOT selling version 1 or version 2 as others note, but some hardware dealers still might be so it's not Netgear's fault if you get otherwise. Here's a tip: Version 1 firmware has a serial numbers starting: FVS8..., Version 2 firmware has a serial number starting: FVS1..., Version 3 firmware has a serial number starting: FVS9....,

AND the serial number IS listed outside the box.

2.] My version 1 has been running a DHCP lease on a Motorola Comcast Surfboard3100 cable router for the last 3 or so years. I've shut down the cable modem and FVS318 more than once for furniture rearranging or to take to someone's home to diagnose their network problems and EACH time, the DHCP lease works without any interference or problems. Here's a tip: Power your cable modem up first and let the lights stablize (2-3 minutes), then power up your FVS318 and let those lights stablize (1-2 minutes), then power up your computer. Also if you've been thru a lightning storm and your gear is acting up, just push and hold the factory default reset button (on the backside) for 30 seconds, while the power is on.

3.] The VPN client software is included in the box. In every box! Look for the included CD. If your box doesn't have it, it's probably a used box resold as new.

4.] Multiple subnet routing in an enterprise network (not an enterprise product) over VPN does work. Here's a tip: Enable RIP2 routing on both the receiving VPN and the distant subnet router, could try RIP1 but it doesn't route among a subnetted network. RIP2 is a subnet routing protocol for inter-router communications (among other things).

5.] If your router is rebooting all the time or acting very strangely, use the factory default reset button previously mentioned. If that doesn't fix it, look for the firmware upgrade for your version of router (see serial number data above) and install it (also very easy). If your router is still defective, Netgear will do an exchange. (Not sure if level 1 support IS India).

Only thing I wish it had was ability to forward syslog port data from other syslog reporting FVS318's across a multiple VPN WAN setup.

For under or near $100 to $150 (depending on where you buy it), this router cannot be beat.
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on March 26, 2006
Most reviews don't seem to mention a key spec - the throughput of a firewall. I just upgraded my cable connection to the new (up to) 30Mbs plan and bought an FSV318v3 firewall to use with it. Without the firewall in place, I measured about 25Mbs download speed. When I installed the firewall in between the modem and one computer, download speed went down to 6.5Mbs. I also discovered that if the "enable keyword blocking" checkbox is enabled, the throughput went down to 5Mbs, EVEN IF THERE WERE NO KEYWORDS!

This firewall is useless if you have a high-speed connection.
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