Speed up remote file transfer

Ask telecommuters what their biggest frustration is, and you'll hear a common refrain: network access speed. If you've spent any time on a Remote Access Service (RAS) connection, you know how frustrating the delays can be. Traveling Software's Point B Remote Net-Accelerator 1.0 can improve your remote computing performance.

Remote Net-Accelerator is a client/server solution that speeds up remote access to an office network but doesn't require users to change the way they work. You can use it with RAS connections and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to reduce the amount of information transmitted through the network and improve network performance on slow WAN links.

The software has two parts: Remote Net-Accelerator Server and Remote Net-Accelerator Client. Remote Net-Accelerator supports TCP/IP and IPX protocols, and you can use it with Windows NT and NetWare servers. You don't need special routers or other hardware.

Here's how it works. When remote users in a traditional RAS environment transfer a file to and from the server, the whole file travels back and forth. Remote Net-Accelerator reduces transfer times by caching network files locally, sending only changes to a file rather than the whole file, and compressing data to send it more efficiently.

Remote Net-Accelerator uses SpeedSync, a patented file synchronization process, for file transfer. Each time a client requests files across the network, Remote Net-Accelerator first looks at the local cache. If the file is new, the server sends the whole file. If the file is in the cache, the client compares it with the file on the server. When the software finds identical files, it opens the locally cached version. If the file in the cache is older than the version on the server, Remote Net-Accelerator compares the files and sends only the differences.

Remote Net-Accelerator uses block-size management technology to further reduce network traffic, aggregating smaller bits of information into larger blocks to verify and transport more efficiently. The software tests link speed and uses the Remote Net-Accelerator server only when the link is slow. Remote Net-Accelerator includes encryption options for better security and dynamic cache sizing to help manage client disk space.

Remote Net-Accelerator benefits users who move large files across RAS or VPN connections, particularly if they repeatedly access files. However, the software doesn't improve performance on Internet access or other client/server applications.

I tested the product by establishing a VPN between a server running NT Workstation and a client running Windows 95. I opened a 300KB Microsoft Word file stored on the server, made a small change locally, and resaved the file.

Performance improved each time the document moved across the network. For example, the average file took 5 minutes to transfer the first time, 2 minutes the second time, and only 45 seconds on the third transfer. Transferring the files across the VPN without Remote Net-Accelerator took 7 to 8 minutes. Performance improves each time you access a file, and the larger the file the more noticeable the improvement. Traveling Software claims that the software can improve performance by 300 percent to 400 percent.

This software is easy to use. You can install the client and server portions from one CD-ROM in about 10 minutes. After installation, select Properties to open the dialog box shown in Screen 1. From this display, you can choose configuration options and observe acceleration statistics. The server runs automatically at startup.

On the client side, users must select the Remote Net-Accelerator server only once to accelerate all remote file access during a session. Administrators can edit text strings in the setup files to preconfigure a client for a specific server. Remote Net-Accelerator has built-in Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) support to make the acceleration process nearly transparent.

Point B Remote Net-Accelerator 1.0
Contact: Traveling Software * 800-343-8080, Web: http://www.travsoft.com
Price: $499 (1 server with 5 clients)
System Requirements: Intel-compatible 486 processor or better

Server: Windows NT Server 4.0 or NT Workstation 4.0, 16MB of RAM, 5MB of hard disk space

Client: Windows NT Workstation 4.0 with 16MB of RAM or Windows 95 with 8MB of RAM, 5MB of hard disk space for program files, 5MB of hard disk space for cache