Top critical review
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A good, stable internal firewall
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 (0.0.0.0) 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.
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.