Network management software can be just as useful for a small home network as it can for business-sized counterparts. Help in the form of set-up assistance and ongoing network monitoring can make “simple” installation instructions easier to follow, make identifying network issues easier and ultimately help avoid both overt frustration and costly technical help if or when something goes wrong. Because the best choice is software that meets your specific needs, comparison shopping is essential. Compare the merits of HomeNet Manager against Network Magic and then make the best choice for your needs.
Cisco Systems, a name you may associate with large business networks and communications technologies, is the developer behind Network Magic. While a big industry name may not be sufficient criteria for making comparisons, consider that Cisco has a history dating back to 1984 while SingleClick Systems, the developer behind HomeNet Manager, dates back to 2002. Despite SingleClick’s relative “newness” and lack of a recognizable name, SingleClick has the backing of Dell, who includes the technology under the name “Dell Network Assistant” in many of its home-computing products.
Both applications provide options for connecting a home network, sharing network assets such as printers and files and provide a central storage location for shared files. HomeNet Manager 3.0, the most current as of publication date, allows you to connect up to nine PCs and devices in total while Network Magic Pro 5.5 allows up to eight connections. Both make use of a graphical “dashboard” -- a central location for managing your network -- and include task wizards that take you through set-up and monitoring tasks using a step-by-step approach. In addition, both include similar problem detection and repair features, including speed tests, an alert system, troubleshooting wizards and Internet connection repair features. Network Magic Pro also includes a restore feature similar to System Restore in Windows.
Differences between the two applications are the most apparent in the areas of network control and monitoring, although personal interest in the additional options that Network Magic provides determines the weight you give these differences. Although both have a reporting option that allows you to view devices recently connected to or disconnected from your network, Network Magic includes options that can significantly increase the control you have over your home network. These options include the ability to control which computers on your network have access to the Internet, the ability to track activity, including Internet sites and software programs each computer uses, screenshot options for capturing computer activity and content filtering options.
Support is another area where the two applications have significant differences. As of the publication date, HomeNet Manager supports up to Windows Vista while Network Magic supports the Windows 7 operating system. While both have a “try before you buy” option, Network Magic gives you a choice of three versions -- one of which is a free version with limited features -- while HomeNet Manager has only one version. In addition, Network Magic has numerous customer support options, including email, telephone, website and community forum support while HomeNet Manager has none.
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