I am not usually in the business of recommending software or hardware products, and it’s certainly not something anyone pays me to do… but recently, I began using two products, both of which have exceptional value, even though one came free of charge and the other cost only 150 dollars.
The free product is Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector (PSI), a software application that turned from something I never heard about into something I cannot live without virtually overnight. It is an application that keeps tabs on all the software installed on your computer and lets you know if any of them are out of date and require updates. Like antivirus software, PSI sits quietly in the background most of the time, but it pops up an unobtrusive warning whenever a new update becomes available, and even offers a direct link to the manufacturer’s download site. It is nice, incredibly useful, it recognizes hundreds of installed applications, and, well, it works as it is supposed to and doesn’t cost a penny.
The product I paid money for is a Cisco RV042 small business router. It does what small business routers do, connects your internal network to an external (DSL, cable, etc.) Internet connection. What makes it special is that it allows your internal network to be connected to two external connections at the same time, and it performs dynamic load balancing and failover functions between the two. I now set up my network architecture to take full advantage of it… and in the coming days, it will be working overtime, as I am planning a major change to my DSL service which will likely involve some unpredictable downtime. The router has other useful functions, too, not the least of which is that it can act as a VPN server, allowing a remote computer to connect to the internal network. The best part is that, like Secunia’s software, it simply works as advertised.