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Stay Connected 4.0 review:

Stay Connected 4.0

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The Good Easy installation; simple configuration wizards make basic operation easy; offers sophisticated configuration options for power users.

The Bad Status icons are difficult to understand; no free phone support.

The Bottom Line If you use a modem to connect to the Internet and are tired of those annoying messages from your ISP asking if you want to stay online, this product will keep you connected.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

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By Bruce Stewart

Ever tried to download a large file from the Internet, only to lose your connection midway? Priced at $25, Stay Connected 4.0 promises to keep your modem dialed up, even if your Internet service provider (ISP) threatens to disconnect your PC when it's not in use. Does this utility keep its promise? Absolutely. Stay Connected keeps you dialed in to both local ISPs and the most popular national online services by simulating network activity when you're not at your computer. But if you own a previous version of Stay Connected, stick with what you have; version 4.0 doesn't offer enough changes to justify an upgrade. By Bruce Stewart

Ever tried to download a large file from the Internet, only to lose your connection midway? Priced at $25, Stay Connected 4.0 promises to keep your modem dialed up, even if your Internet service provider (ISP) threatens to disconnect your PC when it's not in use. Does this utility keep its promise? Absolutely. Stay Connected keeps you dialed in to both local ISPs and the most popular national online services by simulating network activity when you're not at your computer. But if you own a previous version of Stay Connected, stick with what you have; version 4.0 doesn't offer enough changes to justify an upgrade.

Eliminates disconnections
After an easy installation, Stay Connected's Configuration Wizard prompts you to tell it which dial-up service you use, a local ISP, AOL, MSN, United Online, CompuServe, or AT&T WorldNet. Thereafter, you'll use Stay Connected to dial up your service. In our tests, these predefined settings worked great, keeping up our connection for three or four days at a time without dropping it at all.

New in version 4.0 is support for Windows XP and multiple languages in AOL. Also new is the Auto Launch feature, which automatically connects your computer to the Internet on start-up. You could force previous versions to launch automatically by manually tweaking your Windows system, but Stay Connected 4.0 greatly simplifies the task.

Highly configurable
Stay Connected offers a wide range of configurable options to keep your connection live, from standard Web page requests (HTTP) to file transfer protocol (FTP) to POP mail requests. Plus, you can set Stay Connected to automatically redial your ISP if it does eventually drop your Internet connection. You can also set Stay Connected to dial up, say, in the middle of the night, when it's faster to download a large file from the Net.

Special configuration settings for AOL, MSN, CompuServe, and AT&T can quickly get you logged on and running. Often these services have ads or annoying dialog boxes, but Stay Connected can steer clear, avoiding these distracting pop-up windows.

Extra options for AOL users
Do you use AOL? Stay Connected includes several features for you. Because AOL boots inactive users off its system, Stay Connected takes special precautions with AOL 7.0. When you select AOL as your service provider, Stay Connected scans for those annoying AOL dialog boxes that say "Please click OK in 10 minutes or you will be logged off." Stay Connected automatically clicks the OK button, leaving you online and dismissing the AOL dialog box. This app also has special options to customize the AOL experience, such as the ability to disable the Buddy List, AOL Hotline, AOL Plus, and AOL Channel windows, and turn off advertisements and minimize the AOL Welcome window.

Confusing status icons
Alas, Stay Connected isn't perfect. We found its status icon very confusing. More than once, we realized the program was off when we thought it was on. And how did this happen? The active status icon resembles two modems, each with different colored lights--green, yellow, or red. Everything is peachy if the icons have green lights. But one or both of the lights could also appear yellow or red while you are still connected. Turns out, the colors reflect the status of the specific network activity you most recently attempted, not the overall condition of your connection.

Unfortunately, it's also too easy to turn off Stay Connected accidentally. Right-clicking its icon in the Windows system tray accesses the program's menu, and left-clicking the icon toggles it on or off.

E-mail support only
If you register Stay Connected, you'll get e-mail tech support for one year. Technical support is available to registered users. An extensive list of FAQs exists in the support section of the InKline Global site. Unfortunately, no telephone support is available.

If your ISP regularly disconnects your computer or you need to upload or download large files, Stay Connected 4.0 will put an end to your dial-up frustrations. However, if you already have a previous version, there's no compelling reason to upgrade.

Stay Connected 4.0's Advanced Configurations menu lets you fine-tune the program.

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