PROS / Managing a home network is a snap with this software.
CONS / Network access permissions cannot be assigned to individual users.
VERDICT / The product makes home network setup and maintenance a cinch.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from viewing as part of this site because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review below, but TopTenREVIEWS is no longer updating this product’s information.
Cisco Systems is an information technology industry leader. Keeping the bar raised high, TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award winner Network Magic Pro delivers the Cisco brand of excellence to home network software. At last, the home network user has the tools needed for the establishment and maintenance of a home network. To view other applications in this category, please check out our home network software review site.
Ease of Use
Managing a home network is a snap with Network Magic Pro. This home network software automatically creates a dynamic interactive map that allows the user to view each networked element as well as see the status of connected devices. Further, it alerts users to problems and suggests tasks. The ability to manage all elements of the home network from any installed and connected computer is very handy.
Network Device Connectivity
Network Magic Pro home network software easily connects and recognizes all major routers. It supports hundreds of gadgets including VoIP adapters, network storage devices, cameras, phones and more.
Sharing of Network Assets
When printers are identified, the home network software enables the user to choose which printers to share with other network users. Options include sharing between different operating systems such as a Windows based computers and Mac.
One feature lacking from this software is the ability to assign access permissions to individual users and machines. If a folder, file or printer is shared, it is accessible to everyone on the home network.
Network Control and Monitoring
The product works with most routers manufactured today. There are some intermittent reports of the software not supporting older model (legacy) routers and retired operating systems.
The Network Activity Log feature of Network Magic Pro allows the user to view activities such as who has logged on, what devices have been added, dropped connections and newly added shares.
Network Magic Pro keeps the home network safe from intruders with WPA (Wireless Protected Access) encryption. This protocol locks unwanted visitors and intruders out of the home network. Both WEP and WPA/2 security standards are supported. This safeguard makes both the wired and wireless home network a fun experience again.
The product armors the wireless network by sending alerts when an intruder has attempted to log on. Once detected, in the case of a friend or neighbor, access can be granted. In unauthorized attempts, the intruder is simply kicked off and banned from the network.
Network Magic Pro will guard the home network user when they roam. It shields a user by blocking access to normally shared files when they connect to a Wi-Fi hot spot, local coffee shop or an airport network.
Protecting children from viewing questionable internet-based content is a concern for parents. Home Network Defender, powered by Trend Micro, comes integrated with Network Magic Pro and creates a defense for the entire family.
Parents can monitor how the internet is accessed by any computer on the home network. Limits can be set for web browsing, game play and overall internet usage. The Internet Access Control feature lets parents designate exactly what time internet activity is allowed and when it is not. Sites of questionable content can be blocked for specific machines.
Screenshots of other local computers can be scheduled or manually taken. This clever feature allows a parent to monitor what their child is viewing. Perhaps in future versions, Network Magic Pro will include the ability to view real-time streaming video of other PCs within the home network.
Clearly, the partnership of Network Magic Pro and Trend Micro creates an enriched and safe computing environment for the home network user. The integration of these two products puts many worthwhile utilities in the hands of the home user. However, one slightly disappointing fact is that after 30 days the parental controls become disabled unless the user subscribes to Home Network Defender’s service by paying an additional fee. For some, this minimal cost is worth the safety of their children and family.
Parental controls and monitoring features are not available on Mac OS (Operating System) Network Magic Pro add-on. However, they are planned for a future version of this home network software.
Network Repair and Maintenance
Network Magic Pro automatically scans the network looking for dropped connections and sends alerts when connectivity problems arise. When issues are discovered, Wizards can be launched that step the user through the problem solving process.
No longer is an expensive hired NERD (Network Emergency Repair Dude) required to troubleshoot and resolve problems. Users are now empowered with the required skills needed to repair and optimize network and internet connections.
Each installation of Network Magic Pro licenses up to eight computers on a Windows based home network. When the Mac OS add-on is purchased, the software is licensed to run eight Mac OS computers.
There are four versions of Network Magic:
- Network Magic Pro
- Network Magic Essentials
- Network Magic Basic for Linksys by Cisco hardware customers
- Network Magic for Mac Add-on
When a Linksys by Cisco router is purchased, the hardware comes bundled with a 7-day trial version of Network Magic Pro. If, at the end of this time, the user decides against purchase of the home network software, they can continue to use the features of Network Magic basic at no additional cost. If the user does not have a Linksys by Cisco hardware on their network, Network Magic Essentials must be purchased to retain functionality of the trial version.
Users who purchase network Magic Essentials or Pro are entitled to free support for the period of one year. An opt-in method of support is available. This method provides remote information about your home network to Network Magic Pro’s support personnel. When utilized, support professionals can see information about your home network and the entities it contains including types of computers, versions, connectivity information and more. This information is private and confidential. It will not be used for any other purpose than to resolve home networking issues. Further, the information is not associated with the user or a specific home network until support is contacted. Additional support resources are on the manufacturer website in form of a large searchable knowledgebase.
Supported Operating Systems
Network Magic Pro implements a seamless cross-platform interface for both MacOS and Windows users. The following operating systems are supported:
- Microsoft Windows Vista (all editions including 64-bit editions)
- Windows XP (all versions with SP1 or later, including x64 edition)
- Windows 7
- Mac OS
To Integrate Mac OS with Windows based computers, an add-on for Mac OS must be purchased at an additional cost. Currently, the Mac Add-on only enables printer sharing between Macs and PCs for printers supported by the Mac OS. This limitation does not affect the ability to share files and other media between the Mac and PC.
Network Magic Pro is a comprehensive, well-developed and workable home network software solution. The product makes establishing and maintaining a home network a cinch. It is highly recommended for those who have multiple computers, mixed operating systems, printers, and devices throughout their home.