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Net Integrator Mark 1 review:Net Integrator Mark 1

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The Good Full range of server apps right out of the box; easy management tools.

The Bad Pricey.

The Bottom Line The Net Integrator Mark I is an innovative Linux-based server that's easy enough for newbies.

8.0 Overall

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Once in a while, a product comes along that just feels right. From the minute we powered on the Net Integrator Mark I and made it the core of our small network, that's exactly what happened. Except for the fact that this server can't handle Windows application sharing, there's nothing whatsoever missing from this unit. Sure, at $2,999, the Mark I is more expensive than other low-end servers out there. But it's quick to set up and has a full range of server tools from a company devoted to the needs of small business. It merits some very serious consideration.

The Mark I runs a proprietary Linux-based OS, Nitix, which Net-Integration calls autonomic: It's self-adjusting according to workload, self-healing when it detects problems, self-protecting, and self-configuring. The Mark I also includes software called NetIntelligence, which detects and maps network resources, configures a firewall based on incoming packets, and guards against intrusions such as denial-of-service attacks.

The Mark I also comes with a full array of server applications right out of the box. These include WWW and FTP servers, a PPTP server for VPN connections, NFS and Apple File file servers, LDAP, POP, SMTP, IMAP, MySQL, and ExchangeIt (Net-Integration's own collaboration tool, which essentially replaces Microsoft Exchange Server).

Also built into the system: DoubleVision, which lets you connect to two broadband Internet providers simultaneously, automatically balancing the load between them and switching from one to the other if one fails. DDNS lets you provide Internet services without the need for a static IP address. If you host a Web site or mail server, but your ISP gives you a dynamic IP address, this will solve your problem.

The Mark I protects against hard-disk failure in two ways. First, the core of the OS boots from flash memory rather than from a hard drive, with user accounts, the network (including firewall), VPN connectivity, and other services information intact. Second, it comes with two kinds of disk protection: Intelligent Disk Backup technology (which, as the name implies, automatically backs up your data), and RAID-1 (which mirrors the hard drive, allowing the server to keep running if one disk fails). The hard drives are easily removable and accessible from the front panel, so swapping out a failed drive is a snap.

In our tests, the Mark I practically set itself up, automatically taking its IP address from the DSL modem and configuring DHCP addresses for the four workstations. Having the IP number showing on the convenient front-panel display made it easy to get into the browser-based WebConfig tool, where we set up a RAID-1 disk configuration and a Dynamic DNS service, a Web server, and a mail server, along with five user accounts. All of this took less than an hour.

With your purchase, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee (minus shipping costs), a 24-hour turnaround on a replacement product in case of failure, the Dynamic DNS service, and free software (including OS) downloads. Toll-free tech-support lines are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET daily.

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