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Tools for travelers

Feb 27, 20063 mins
Network Security

How many times have you been traveling and, hours or even days after plugging your laptop into the broadband connection in your hotel room, you realize you didn’t change your PC configuration from your office setup to something more secure?

Discovering that you’ve exposed your local shares to the world, even if they are read-only, is sobering.

We have been testing a Windows product called MultiNetwork Manager 8 from Globesoft that aims to prevent such unintended exposures and in the process makes switching configurations much easier.

MultiNetwork Manager is smart-it auto-detects the network you are connected to and, if one’s been defined, offers to set up the profile you configured for that environment. With one click you also can change your current network setup to any previously defined profile.

Among the Windows networking features you can save to a profile are dial-up networking settings, TCP/IP and proxy configurations (proxy servers and settings can be automatically discovered also), domain and workgroup affiliations, mapping of shared drives and printers, as well as environment and registry settings.

MultiNetwork Manager profiles can run scripts automatically when a profile is loaded; automatically enable and disable file sharing; use global and profile-based security rules; integrate dialers such as iPass; edit, import and export profiles; and capture current settings into new profiles. You also can configure wireless LAN settings, including security configuration, and control VPNs, firewalls and anti-virus features.

The user interface is good, and the software has a good help file. MultiNetwork Manager comes in two versions: the Standard edition for home and business users and the Professional edition for IT professionals and administrators (see DocFinder: 2369 for a list of the differences between the versions).

We took this utility on the road and never wound up with an inappropriate network configuration, whether we connected wired or wirelessly. When we returned to the office it took only a few seconds to reconfigure for our network environment.

MultiNetwork Manager costs $10 for the Standard version and $20 for the Professional edition. Globesoft offers volume discounts.

Wisco’s SynchPst is another software find that is incredibly useful when traveling. SynchPst synchronizes Outlook folders (all types) on two or more machines without the need for Exchange. The product’s name comes from the file type – PST – that Outlook uses to store its folders and data.

To synchronize folders you need to be able to access the remote machine’s PST file. This is done by mapping a Windows share on the remote machine to a local drive.

When you launch SynchPst, it in turn launches Outlook if Outlook is not already running. You select which folders are to be synchronized and click the button to select the direction (to the local machine only, to the remote machine only or bidirectionally) of the synchronization.

Resolving conflicts is straightforward: In bidirectional mode the item with the latest time stamp wins, and in single-direction synchronization the source item always wins.

The SynchPst settings also let you synchronize every so many minutes. This is great if you are planning to run out of the office at the last minute – it makes the final synchronization really fast.

If you are using the Professional edition you can save the current setup as a batch file, which lets you automate synchronization, for example, to synchronize just your in-box or just your notes.

There are two versions of SynchPst: Basic edition and Professional edition, which cost $40 and $70, respectively.

If you have any traveling tools you can’t live without, we’d love to hear about them at


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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