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Internet Related/Filtering/Firewall Thread, Smoothwall Network Guardian Negatives? in Technical; I've just renewed our subscription to start the second year, for the school I work at and a children's charity ...
  1. #16
    OverWorked's Avatar
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    I've just renewed our subscription to start the second year, for the school I work at and a children's charity I support. It's pretty hard to be negative about Smoothwall, but here goes:-

    1) There's a quite a bit of a learning curve to go through, especially for the filtering policies and rules, but once you get the hang of it, it makes sense. It comes preconfigured with default policies, but you're better off deleting these and creating your own. You'll gain a better understanding of how they work that way. Thanks to Smoothwall's tech support for that tip.

    2) Errr... that's it.


    If you'd asked the question a couple of months ago, I'd have added that the admin web interface was very slow, but they've fixed that recently with an update.

    I recently had a sales call from Bloxx. I agreed to the demo, as it's been a while since I last looked at it. They started by quoting more than double Smoothwall. And that didn't include a firewall. They suggested that I could use Smoothwall for the firewall and Bloxx for the filtering - yeah right.
    Last edited by OverWorked; 11th March 2009 at 02:41 PM. Reason: spelling

  2. 3 Thanks to OverWorked:

    GAV (11th March 2009), mb2k01 (11th March 2009), tom_newton (11th March 2009)

  3. #17
    OverWorked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ric_ View Post
    I will admit that I had to phone support one time for something really random (I'd broken something ) and the tech support guy was a little inflexible ...
    I'll second that. I only use the online support now, and it's great. Every query gets resolved promptly.

    It can't be much fun working on a telephone help desk all day and it's not a job I'd like to do. I did suggest to Tom at the last EduGeek conf that he take the helpdesk staff out for a day to cheer them up.

  4. Thanks to OverWorked from:

    mb2k01 (11th March 2009)

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    stratisphere's Avatar
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    We use websense at the moment, provided for free by the LEA. I'd be interested to see who has been from websense to this (ICTNUT, did you take on websense at your school?).

    We use smoothie express gateway/firewall box here which works a charm... if it's anything like that... we may be interested!

    BTW, any Smoothwall people, feel free to PM me if you have any case studies or materials for people like me moving from websense :P

  6. Thanks to stratisphere from:

    mb2k01 (11th March 2009)

  7. #19
    ICTNUT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stratisphere View Post
    (ICTNUT, did you take on websense at your school?).
    No as it is just not flexible enough and the cost of it is far to expensive for what it does. You know me I stray as far away from county as I can

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    I've been finding it hard to get it integrated with my Mac's and PC's together. (still not there yet but that's for another thread)

    When I rang support they told me to fill out a ticket on-line rather then explain on the phone...(to date that was the only negative I have for the support desk and Smoothwall in general)

  9. Thanks to Burt from:

    mb2k01 (11th March 2009)

  10. #21
    ICTNUT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burt View Post
    I've been finding it hard to get it integrated with my Mac's and PC's together. (still not there yet but that's for another thread)

    When I rang support they told me to fill out a ticket on-line rather then explain on the phone...(to date that was the only negative I have for the support desk and Smoothwall in general)
    We have not had any issues with MAC's authenticating, however with BLOXX it was a complete no no.

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    mb2k01 (11th March 2009)

  12. #22
    stratisphere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ICTNUT View Post
    No as it is just not flexible enough and the cost of it is far to expensive for what it does. You know me I stray as far away from county as I can
    lol I hate the UI for it... so clunky.

    Prehaps it really is time for a change :P

  13. Thanks to stratisphere from:

    mb2k01 (11th March 2009)

  14. #23


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    Quote Originally Posted by Danielbarron View Post
    There must be reasons why other products are bought. Could be features, support, price, sales guy, being unknown, not trusting something new, too much of a learning curve, hard to use or configure, backhanders, school/county policy, better the devil you know, or anything. Negative feedback is great so one knows what to fix.
    Welcome to EduGeek Dan

    Mods: can we have Dan marked as "Sponsor"? He's one of us

    For those that don't know Dan, he's our development director, and the guy behind "dansguardian". Between the two of us, we decide what goes in the product, and when new things are released, so as Dan says, feedback of all kinds is hugely welcome.

  15. #24


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    Quote Originally Posted by Burt View Post
    I've been finding it hard to get it integrated with my Mac's and PC's together. (still not there yet but that's for another thread)

    When I rang support they told me to fill out a ticket on-line rather then explain on the phone...(to date that was the only negative I have for the support desk and Smoothwall in general)
    Can you PM me a ticket number? I'm in and out of meetings all day today, but I will endavour to look into it for you. I imagine the support guy meant "its better if I get your setup down in hardcopy first" but I will check it out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stratisphere View Post
    We use websense at the moment, provided for free by the LEA. I'd be interested to see who has been from websense to this
    We moved from Websense Enterprise to Smoothwall last year.

    Firstly, I am really glad that we made the switch and am really happy with the way our Smoothwall is performing. As others have said.. the kids HATE it especially now I have figured out how to put weightings on keywords / phrases this week Websense seemed pretty weak when it came to blocking games and kids related timewasting sites. I'm not using the smoothwall as a firewall though as we already have a Juniper SSG firewall in place.

    On the negatives I will agree with most that the reporting is seriously lacking, compared to websense - when you see the array of reports you can run on that compared to Smoothwall you will know what I mean! Looking forward to seeing the reporting enhancements when they come out.

    Speed of the web UI is sometimes a bit slow clunky especially when the kids are pounding the internet connection but its definately better than how it used to be pre the recent update.

    I did deal with one very unhelpful / rude chap on the support line but was quickly moved onto Rob and Nick and they were both great and very helpful.

    So basically we saved thousands switching from Websense and also I feel have ended up with a better / faster filter that the kids despise which shows you how well its working .

  17. 4 Thanks to ssiruuk2:

    mb2k01 (11th March 2009), rob_f (12th March 2009), stratisphere (12th March 2009), tom_newton (11th March 2009)

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    Sorry not a negative for Smoothwall and don't want to hijack the thread but heres a tip if you do decide to move from Websense; make sure you backup any custom web lists you have created before your renewal date. I found out the hard way that when your license expires you have no way of getting them back which did annoy me alot!

    Websense support were not interested in helping me which I guess from their point of view makes sense but I was not happy having been a customer with them for 5 yrs +.
    Last edited by ssiruuk2; 11th March 2009 at 07:01 PM.

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    tom_newton (11th March 2009)

  20. #27


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    Will let our support folks know, we're trying to put together some "migratiob packs".

    ssiruuk2: Would you do us a case study? If you'd be up for it, drop me a PM (and anyone else who thinks they might like to for that matter)

  21. #28

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    We've had issues this week high loads - low disk space etc, we had no internet today because of it but a phonecall to smoothwall had us up and running in about 30 mins. They are running further tests on our box tonight due to some other strange errors, but I am confident they will get us sorted.

    Its OK when our internet connection goes down the staff just blame our ISP - so smoothwall didn't get the blame today either ) I was panicking a little as we were running a course this afternoon which needed an internet connection - I thought we were going to have to dust our old proxy server down and get it warmed up.

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  23. #29

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    Sorry guys but heres another negative, well I think so anyway ...

    We bought a 3 yr subscription to Smoothwall School Guardian but only get 12 months support.

    When I was a Websense customer (boooooo!) if you buy a subscription for however many years you get support for the entire length of the subscription. (And you bloody well needed it with the amount of time the logging engine would stop for no reason!)

  24. Thanks to ssiruuk2 from:

    mb2k01 (12th March 2009)

  25. #30
    ICTNUT's Avatar
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    I would agree, if you buy into a 3 year contract I would expect to get 3 years of support also.

    BLOXX did do this but then, just like websense, you REALLY did need it.

    I think knowing what you are getting right from the start is a good thing, a clear pricing policy can only be a winner.

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