For the past several years I had been running IP Cop as my home gateway and router. It was great. I never had an issue with it as it was totally reliable and stable. After roughly 5 years or so and doing some research, I decided to look into what a home router / gateway could do for me above what IP Cop offered by default. This would involve using a newer machine as my old P166 with 48mb of EDO ram and 1 GB hard drive probably wouldn’t be able to handle additional services. I had no doubt that IP Cop would have the capability to handle more services, however; when I did research and noticed that Clark Connect had these features built in and had been running well for years, I decided it was worth a look.
The web interface is professional in appearance (along with the Community edition, there is an Enterprise version as well) and had many features built right in that were convenient to install. I decided to try it out. As part of this upgrade, I decided to use a gigabit (10/100/1000) network card for my LAN so what I could get better internal speed for copying files within my network. Along with that, I bought a gigabit switch as well. I chose the intel GT nic (many other gigabit cards were not compatible including a Dlink one I tried and a Linksys one that I researched and noticed would not work) and I bought a green friendly Dlink gigabit switch.
The install went fine however, I would have liked to see better instructions along the way. For someone who may not be familiar with setting up a home gateway/router, it could be very confusing. At times, I was unsure what the prompts were asking me and yet I was quite familiar with what I wanted to do. I could imagine some people giving up after not knowing what information to enter. Once done, I removed my previous box which had served me well and replaced it with something a bit more powerful but still not a powerhouse: P3 450 mhz, 256mb ram and a 12 gb HD. I could have used more ram but the motherboard was picky and would accept certain types. I tried several banks but was only successful getting 256 to work. I decided to give it a shot anyway although the recommended amount was 512 for a network of under 5 users. Instantly after plugging everything in and power cycling my cable modem, I was able to visit the Clark Connect internal web interface.
Some of the added features that I can now use are intrusion detection (snort) which IP Cop did have built in but my previous box could not realistically run as well as Windows File Sharing (samba), Web Proxy Filter, Content Filter, Web Server, Mail Server, FTP Server as well as a DHCP server and Name Server. I may not use all of these services, but it would be easy to try them as the built in software retrieval method will download the appropriate packages after simply checking off a corresponding box.
I am still in a testing phase with Clark Connect but so far it has been reliable, fast and easy to use. I like the web interface and the ability to configure things further should I desire. If you have a reasonably decent older box at home that you want to make use of, I would highly recommend trying out Clark Connect and if you want something that can run on older hardware like my P166, then IP Cop could be for you. On older machines, several services may not run well or be practical such as snort intrusion detection. Research the sites and consider replacing that standard big name hardware router if you are having issues with it. You may never use one again as in my case.