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D-Link DSD-150: Good idea, flawed implementation

D-Link DSD-150: Good idea, flawed implementation
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At a Glance
Product D-Link SecureSpot Internet Security Adapter (DSD-150)
Summary "All-in-one" Internet security solution providing anti-virus, spyware and identity protection and parental controls
Pros • 1 year license for up to 4 clients included
• Good reporting and access scheduling
Cons • Difficult installation
• Too many features are buggy

If you have memories of TV commercials from the 1960s, you perhaps remember the commercial for a combination clock, radio, and reading light. In the commercial an actor "invents" the combination product by taping together a clock, a radio and a reading lamp into a single unit.

D-Link's Securespot DSD-150 is kind of like that, only it combines a firewall, subscription-based virus and spyware protection, spam and popup blocking, parental controls and more into a 3.5"x3.5"x1.125" box. It will take you awhile to absorb all the functions that this product promises (I know it did for me).

The DSD-150 has so many functions packed into such a compressed package, that it is hard to describe, hard to get working, and easy to misunderstand. The promise of the DSD-150 is to bring enterprise-style functionality to protecting your home LAN. The reality, unfortunately, doesn't deliver on this promise.

The Approach

The DSD-150 has three components:

The DSD-150 hardware. This black box is a 1 port hybrid router/proxy that becomes the master of your LAN. The back end that is implemented by partner Bsecure.com. When you log in to configure your DSD-150, you are really logging into bsecure.com. The thin client manager and applications. This is software downloaded through the DSD-150 that implements authentication, anti-virus and other functions at each LAN client. Thin client software is available for the latest versions of Windows (SP1 and SP2) and Mac OS X.

The DSD-150 is designed to connect between a broadband modem and router (Figure 1). If you have a different setup, including the common case of a combination modem and router, you might have problems getting the DSD-150 working since it doesn't seem to like to be behind a firewall.

Connecting the DSD-150

Figure 1: Connecting the DSD-150

Once the DSD-150 is installed, you go to your PCs and fire up a web browser. When the browser tries to connect to the Internet, the DSD-150 redirects it to a captive portal page that allows the user to register the DSD-150 with D-Link's back end. Once registration is complete, the DSD-150 downloads the "thin client" to each Windows or Mac OS X machine that connects. The product comes with 1 year subscriptions for up to four clients, which you need to use most of the DSD-150's features.

I'm not going to cover DSD-150's installation in detail because it has a good manual (the file is in zipped format), helpful graphics, as well as a step-by-step software "wizard" for Windows. If these don't get you up and running, D-Link has a support phone line.

That said, I have a word of warning. The installation can be difficult, because orchestrating the back-end, hardware, and clients in authenticating, downloading, updating, and getting up and running is difficult and time-consuming. Your install will not work perfectly if you are going for more than minimum functionality.

Human instinct in this situation is to blame the product - at least that was my instinct. However, to have a happy installation of the DSD-150 you need a large helping of patience and can't be in a hurry. You also can't panic when things don't work. Give the DSD-150 time to talk to your clients and to the D-Link back end. Let the auto-retry time outs happen. Go do something else in the meantime. Because I found that when you tamper with it by forcing re-authentication or by power cycling (about the only two things you can do), you end up slowing down your install and postponing the time when you will be able to access the Internet again.

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