Software602 – 602Pro LAN Suite 2003 review

comprehensive SME e-mail server and more
Photo of Software602 – 602Pro LAN Suite 2003
Free for up to 5 users, 10 users licence starts at $99.95

For those expecting 602Pro LAN Suite to be all about network management, disappointment looms. However it won’t last long as what you get instead is a whole bundle of communications tools, starting with an SMTP/POP3 e-mail server with anti-virus and anti-spam capabilities, plus Web and WAP mobile clients. Moreover, you also get a proxy Web server, firewall and even a fax server, to round off this surprisingly comprehensive communications package.

For networks of up to five clients 602Pro LAN Suite can be registered and run for free, although you have to cough up $59.95 to get the full anti-virus facilities and a year’s worth of updates. A 10-user licence is $99.95 ($179.95 for the Anti-virus Edition), rising to $399.95 ($699.95 with AV) for unlimited use. All of which compare well with competitive mail server packages, few of which include the additional features to be found in the Software602 suite.

Another big plus with the 602Pro LAN Suite is that it can be hosted on relatively modest PC hardware. And that can be running any version of Windows from 98 onwards, although the developers only support up to ten users on the 98 platform. Basic requirements for those ten users are a Pentium class processor (133MHz or above) with 64MB of memory plus 20MB of disk space for the software and 100MB for user mailboxes.

The application itself is simply downloaded from the Software602 Web site and installed using the usual Windows setup routine. A wizard then guides you through the configuration, prompting for the type of Internet connection and level of firewall protection required, the name of your e-mail domain and the users allowed access.

The SMTP mail server can be used with any POP3 client, such as Microsoft Outlook or Eudora, for both local and public messaging. Alternatively a full Web-based client is included, enabling users to view and organise their messages and send mail from any browser-equipped system. Secure access using SSL is supported as standard (the SMTP, POP3 and Web services all have optional 128-bit SSL support) and browser users can access a shared address book held on the server. Added to which there’s an LDAP server to provide similar capabilities for other clients, such as Outlook Express, able to use LDAP for address lookups.

All the usual features you expect to find on more expensive small business mail servers are available with the LAN Suite, such as the ability to schedule regular message collection from an ISP using POP3, for example. Alternatively the multi-threaded mail server can be configured to send and receive mail directly using SMTP, either using DNS to resolve addresses or by forwarding everything via an ISP.

The optional Bit Defender anti-virus scanner will check all incoming and outgoing messages, and their attachments, with updated virus signatures downloaded and applied automatically. Controls too are provided to prevent unauthorised relaying, plus there are facilities to detect and reject unsolicited mail using either a manually created list of dodgy addresses or by reference to anti-spam services on the Web.

For companies with dial-up and other narrowband services a caching proxy Web server can be deployed to maximise Internet bandwidth. For those with always-on broadband, the Web server can be public-facing with firewall security provided by a customisable packet filter. Application level proxies are also included for a range of common services, plus it’s possible to set up mapped links to expose otherwise protected systems to external users.

Management is done using either custom Windows tools or via a Web-based interface. Either way it’s all remarkably straightforward and easy to use, although you do need a modicum of technical knowledge to get everything working correctly. Added to which there are a couple of omissions, such as the lack of IMAP4 support, although the browser-based client provides the same kind of anytime, anywhere access. There’s no calendar sharing either, and the firewall is a simple packet filter not a stateful inspection engine. But then what you get does its job well and at this price it would be churlish to expect much more.

Company: Software602

Contact: +1 904 642 5400

602Pro LAN Suite 2003 is a comprehensive communication solution for the smaller business, comprising e-mail and network fax servers, firewall and caching proxy Web server. Browser-based mail access and a WAP client are also included, along with anti-virus and anti-spam facilities. The software covers most of the communication bases and does so for a lot less than competing solutions.