First impressions of the ThreatWall 200 are that this small device is steel-clad and robustly constructed.

Following a simple, step-by-step quick-start guide, we powered up the unit (which the guide book warns can take five minutes) and waited for it to automatically detect our DHCP server and assign an address within range.

We then attempted to fire up the management interface, but were blocked by an unknown password. An email to eSoft’s technical support produced the information we needed and we were up and running.

It seems eSoft has tried to make set-up as simple as possible. After firing up the web-based console, users are taken through a series of steps to set up the product’s basic parameters and to enter user and network information, such as network IP, subnet, gateway IP and preferred DNS servers.

The wizard then performs a series of automatic checks, such as seeing if the default gateway is accessible and whether the device can use this connection to access the internet. DNS settings are also checked, and the unit verifies if DNS resolvers are accessible.

This unit could not access the internet to download its so-called SoftPaks – in accordance with eSoft’s practice, firms can mix and match which of these SoftPaks to download and deploy, enabling them to tailor their protection needs. We were initially puzzled by this failure, but after checking settings we realized that we had omitted to add the ThreatWall’s MAC address to our list of allowed LAN clients.

Thereafter, the unit cycled successfully through all its tests and took us to the SoftPak registration screen from which it automatically began downloading the latest SoftPak update modules for which it is configured: in our case, the Email ThreatPak with integrated anti-spam, anti-virus and email content filtering. We also received the Premium Gateway Anti-virus program.

After a very long time spent downloading the 37.7MB SoftPak download, the impressively designed management console was up and running. From this well-ordered screen it is easy to set up users and user groups and configure the product’s advanced features, such as Bayesian filters, whitelists, blacklists, content filtering and quarantine.