Plug and Browse v3.4

Reviewed by: Paul Schneider PhD, June 2005
Published by: Interactive Studios
Requires: Pentium or equivalent computer running Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows 2003 (server)
MSRP: US$29.99

Road Warriors, system administrators, and anybody who travels between networks listen up. When taking my laptop to different office locations, be they home, or otherwise, one of my biggest complaints is that each environment is unique. With the added security in some environments this is even more of a pain than before. So what happens when you have five mapped drives, a unique SMTP server, hosts files, and different Internet settings at work than you do in a remote office or your home office? Well if you have figured out an effective easy solution, kudos, but if it is not easy and quick or you're still struggling with this situation, Plug and Browse seems to be a useful tool for mobile users who frequently need to change their Network Connection settings.

Plug and Browse certainly implies ease of use. You plug it in and go, but really how easy is it? Configuring one’s computer for an environment can be difficult and having to change it each time you enter a new environment is no small task. Plug and Browse eliminates much of this need with an extremely easy interface and approach. Once a system is configured, launch Plug and Browse and ask it to Create a New Location. After you give the new location a name and a nifty icon, Plug and Browse does the rest, recording all of the network, Internet and system settings required for you to access the resources in your current location. Then, move on to your next location, set up your computer, create the new location in Plug and Browse and you are now one click away from having your computer automatically configured for either of the two environments. Now if that isn't simplicity, I am not sure what is.


Of course there are always times when things go wrong or there are those types of people who want to look under the hood. While Plug and Browse does attempt to automate almost everything, you can still edit individual configurations and manually update or change any of the profile settings. Also, from time to time your configurations might change, but then you need to just make the changes and ask Plug and Browse to update the profile.

The Plug and Browse interface is broken down into Common and Advanced Tasks as well as Help. Help is kept simple and includes a nice online tutorial that walks you through the key steps. Your Common Tasks are viewing locations that you've created, and activating, creating, renaming or deleting locations. The Advanced Tasks allow you to edit, copy, or update a location as well as adjust the activation and configuration options for Plug and Browse.

Editing a location will show you all the options that Plug and Browse can configure. The network connections cover all of your network settings for network cards, be it IP settings, DNS, WINS configuration and so on. You can adjust your Windows XP firewall settings. The Internet Explorer options are particularly useful to programmers as not only can you set the normal stuff like home page and proxy servers, but you can also modify and store any of the advanced Internet Explorer options like debugging and security settings.

Mapped drives are covered, with the entire folder and account information stored with each drive. This is great for those situations where you have a unique login for the drive in question. The General section provides setting for time zones, SMTP server, dialing locations and default printers. The scripts section allows you to specify that certain scripts are run after or before activation of a profile. Finally, you can set where shortcuts will appear on your system to easily activate an option. Like the Quick launch toolbar, start menu or desktop, you pick!

Everything with Plug and Browse was not quite perfect. I did have some particular problems with a DNS configuration error and proper connection of my remote drives which required a user name and password. However, on the bright side, I was able to export my log file and settings, send it to the technical support team who promptly provided the help I needed, which was to reinstall the application and change a setting. With these adjustments I was up and working flawlessly.

Plug and Browse takes a difficult task and makes it easy. Careful thought has gone into the interface along with considerations for the number of folks out there who travel, but rely on their network administrators to configure their system. If you are one of them, this program is for you. In a short, the many minutes in your day and the simple frustration of not having access to a printer can now be eliminated. The program really does live up to its name. With Plug and Browse you will quite literally be plugging and browsing like a network pro.





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