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Using a PC as a router

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clonk    2

Hey guys I have a question that I need your expertice on. What are the advantages of using a PC as a router (verses a dedicated device like the ones linksys produce) and / does configuring a windows server 2003 box to function as a VPN / remote acces server accomplish this? If so, how do you control opening ports and whatnot? Thanks for you help in advance.

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+BudMan    3,694

There are many extra's that would/could be used if using a PC as a router/gateway vs say a linksys. First would be better control of network access - both in and out. The ability to run a caching type proxy (squid as example), content filtering be it the ability to block ads, or porn sites, etc.. Reporting - huge amount of stuff that could be done on this side now. Full logs of everything that goes in and out, which reports could be automated giving pretty graphs, etc.. etc.. ;) The ability to run any other type of service you would want, be it mail, web, ftp, ssh, etc.. etc.. You could run snort, and a proccess to watch over you logs - and notify you if something doesn't look quite right. You could start playing with traffic shaping, etc.. etc.. There really are too many to quickly list.

Now - keep in mind, this does bring a level of complexity that is all together different than just plugging in a linksys or d-link dsl/cable router and your up and running. I will admit that the few router/gateway distros that I have played with have been quite easy to setup - pretty much click and go! This does NOT mean this option is for everyone. I would suggest you have a complete understanding of networking, along with atleast a good understanding of basic firewall concepts.

To answer you question about 2k3 VPN, etc.. Um NO! There is a big difference in setting up a Remote Access point in your network, and or using that same box as your gateway, etc.. So just setting up 2k3 as a VPN remote access server does NOT compete the setup as using it as your gateway/router.

So yes, in a nutshell there are MANY possible benefits to running a PC based gateway/router - but to be honest, if you have to ask about how you would control ports, etc.. Then most likely this option would NOT be for you - also if what your really trying to do is allow VPN access into your network, yes 2k3 could provide this - but so could xp pro, or a vpn capable linksys router, etc..

I do really fail to understand how a 2k3 server has ANY place in the home setup, the cost alone is prohibitive - dealing with MS on the server side of licensing is not as simple as buying a copy of xp off the shelf. Could 2k3 accomplish what your seeking - sure it could. But there is a big difference between downloading a FREE copy of distro designed to be used as a router/gateway - say smoothwall or clarkconnect or IPcop, etc.. And dealing with the cost of running 2k3. Even if you take the cost of the OS out it (which you can't - and still be on the up and up), the hardware required to run 2k3 is much higher than say smoothwall - really anything about 150MHZ and 32MB could be used to run it.

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clonk    2

Budman, thank you for the informative reply. I am not very experienced in this matter, that is true. I am responsible for a family owned small business network and the demand for remote access is there, so that means I need to learn the best method of doing so. I read in the Remote Access / VPN server component of win2k3 that it provides NAT, so I thought it might provide other routing functions as well.

With what you have told me though I think I will just stick to our little linksys router and set the VPN server up behind it. And yes we have 2 lisences for win2k3 standard.

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