MultiNetwork Manager Simplifies Moving Between Networks

One of the most annoying things I have to deal with when moving my notebook computer from my office to my home networks is reconfiguring the system for each network. Most TCP/IP configuration problems went away when I set up a DHCP server at home (in addition to using static addressing), but when I moved the notebook between test networks, I had to reconfigure other information, such as domain rights. Also, I couldn't move the same account around and keep network-specific drive mappings accurate without redoing the configuration.

GlobeSoft's MultiNetwork Manager (MNM) 6.1e can help you solve the problems that can occur when you move between networks. MNM stores your networks' configuration information. If you're an end user, you just need to make sure the IT department has configured your system correctly, then store that configuration information in MNM. If you're the IT administrator, you can export the configuration information and import it into other machines running MNM, giving you a library of canned configurations handy for any network your users are likely to encounter.

When you run MNM, it creates a tab on its interface for the current network setup and stores the information under a user-specified name. Each time you launch MNM with a different network setup configured on the machine, MNM repeats the creation of that information tab. As a test, I moved my notebook (running Windows 2000 Professional) between my home network, office network, and two of my test networks. For each network, I created a tab that defined the network settings and available resources, such as network shares I use in those environments (see Figure 1).

MNM's ability to change domains and local printers is extremely useful. Usually, when you change your Win2K machine's domain (or change from domain to workgroup), your system disables the current domain account. With MNM, I can create another domain account without having the current account disabled. If you've ever sent a lot of print jobs to a printer not on your current network, you understand the value of MNM's ability to load a network configuration's printer preferences.

From an administrative perspective, MNM has one other important feature: it doesn't require that the user be an administrator. Someone with administrator rights can configure MNM so that any user with sufficient privileges can run the application. If you have users who complain that they don't have local administrator rights and can't configure their notebook systems to work correctly on their home networks, MNM can help them set up their systems for their home network, and you don't have to change their user rights.

MNM supports all versions of Windows from Windows 95 and later. For my testing, I used Windows XP and Win2K Pro (the only Windows OSs I recommend for business notebooks). The only problem I encountered occurred because of the way I use my notebooks. MNM loads at boot so you can select the network configuration you want to use before the network authentication (login) runs. Because I prefer to Hibernate my notebooks rather than Shutdown and Restart, MNM doesn't load. But if your job requires you to move between networks or domains, or if you carry your system from work to home, MNM is an excellent solution to the network-configuration blues.

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