• United States
Neal Weinberg
Contributing writer, Foundry

SonicWall’s TZ 170

Sep 14, 20043 mins

* The Reviewmeister takes a look at the TZ 170 from SonicWall

The Reviewmeister was interested in boosting the available bandwidth and reliability of some branch offices, so we looked into dual WAN routers. These babies not only provide for two WAN links, but they offer additional features such as load balancing, VPN and QoS.

Our favorite product is from SonicWall. The TZ 170 shines due to its security, configuration options and additional features.

Installation and configuration took some time. Unlike every other unit we tested, the TZ 170 does not enable its DHCP server by default. You must change your computer address to match the default IP network settings of the TZ 170, then configure the DHCP address range along with other initialization settings through its attractive wizard.

But after rebooting, we discovered setting the DHCP range does not turn on the DHCP server and we had to turn it on manually. The Quick Start Guide includes nine pages of dense text, blunting the idea of a “quick” start.

The SonicWall Web-based administration utility includes stacked menus on the left side of the screen, but no tabbed pages on the right. Instead, multiple command icons pop open new, smaller windows for configuration settings or explanation. This sounds clumsier than it is, because drilling down into details works easily. Multiple wizards await for chores such as VPN settings, public server (DMZ) access, and initial setup.

The good news – SonicWall provides great flexibility in configuration. Where the ZyWall product had 44 services configured in the drop-down menu, the TZ 170 has 140. SonicWall uses Zones for networks, including several screens of a matrix describing the relationship of zones (WAN-to-LAN, for example) and which firewall, routing, or network address translation (NAT) rules apply to that particular connection.

You can even have five different classes of users, from Everyone to Limited Administrators, and include any class in a rule.

Handling the dual WAN connection worked well on the TZ 170. Unlike all other units we tested, the TZ 170 picked up and continued to stream audio files when we disconnected the cable modem and forced the unit to switch to the DSL connection. It also switched to the faster service when we re-connected, again without interruption.

Security options abound, but order them carefully. For example, you can purchase network anti-virus and server anti-virus, but not have e-mail anti-virus filtering. Nodes/users are counted by active IP addresses on the network rather than concurrent users through the router, so you may need more licenses than you think.

SMTP routing to the proper WAN port took only a few mouse clicks. Five drop-down menus led us through choosing the source (LAN), the destination (any), service (SMTP send e-mail), gateway (WAN Primary IP), and interface (WAN). Once we got over the surprise at all the choices available, making rules wasn’t difficult and let us tweak settings exactly the way we wanted them.

Although a bit aggravating to get the right options purchased and DHCP figured out, once running, the SonicWall offered a wealth of pre-defined firewall settings and choice, and the only failover that kept up a continuous audio stream.

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