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Barracuda Spam Firewall 300 review

Verdict

Small but powerful, this email, anti-spam and virus-scanning appliance offers a good range of features for the price. Its simple installation will appeal particularly to smaller businesses.

Review Date: 28 Jul 2004

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: (exc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

There's no shortage of anti-spam solutions currently on the market, but the Spam Firewall 300 from Barracuda Networks manages to stand out from the crowd thanks to ease of installation and price. It's one of a family of four appliances. The model on review claims to be able to handle 2,000 active email users and up to 4 million emails a day. The family all use the same Linux kernel and SpamAssassin software, and two layers of anti-virus measures are employed. One is an open-source virus scan, which isn't disclosed for security reasons; the second is a proprietary scan developed by Barracuda Networks.

All appliances, bar the top model, utilise a 1U rack-mount mini-chassis; our only complaint is it uses a large blower fan that produces high levels of noise - this little box wheezes and whistles louder than most workgroup servers. Installation is a simple affair. All you have to do is point a web browser at the appliance's default IP address to load the management interface. But the appliance only has a single network port so you'll need to do some fiddling with existing systems to redirect incoming mail. If it's behind a firewall then the latter's port forwarding needs to be modified or, as in our testing scenario, you just need to change the MX record on your DNS server to point to the Barracuda appliance.

The web interface is easy enough to use and opens with a complete rundown of mail-related activity. A table shows which messages have been passed or blocked and why, and below it are a couple of graphs showing hourly and daily statistics. Your first stop will be the network configuration tab, as you need to tell the appliance the name of your mail and DNS servers. It defaults to blocking all incoming mail, so you'll need to add details of all email domains to be accepted. Messages can be classified into spam or non-spam categories by viewing the message log, selecting incoming messages and placing them in either group. You can also add messages to white lists. A smart new feature available for the 300, 400 and 600 models is an Outlook plug-in that allows users to classify their own messages. On installation it adds a couple of extra icons to the Outlook toolbar, which allows users to select messages and declare them as spam or non-spam. You can decide who is allowed to have access to this feature, and the information for each user is stored in personal databases, which avoids the global database from being modified by individuals.

Once each class has 200 entries, the Bayesian database swings into action and scores each new incoming message. Three actions are available: depending on the spam score, emails can have text inserted into the subject line before delivery, they can be quarantined to global or per-user mailboxes for later retrieval, or blocked with a non-delivery message passed to the sender. There are plenty of other tools for repelling spam including IP-blocking lists, user-specified rules, RBLs (Real-time Blackhole List) and fingerprint checks, and you can even monitor blocking activity using the LEDs on the front panel. Virus checking can also be activated. Opting for the Energize Update subscription allows anti-spam rules and fingerprints and virus signatures to be automatically downloaded up to once an hour.

The Spam Firewall 300 will appeal to many SMEs, as its low price is in stark contrast to a number of other solutions reviewed in Enterprise. Along with a fine set of features, its ease of installation and configuration are also bonuses and we see no reason why most users shouldn't have this appliance up and running in a matter of minutes.

Author: Dave Mitchell

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User comments

Barracuda is a total scam. No joke, read on...

I'm sorry but I have to comment about Barracuda.....

They are a TOTAL SCAM of a business. They do a great job of blocking spam, don't get me wrong, but that's only half of the story. So Barracuda Networks has a program where they sell you their hardware, it's a little 1u racked unit and you manage the administration of it through a little web interface. We purchased their 300 model for $2,000. You can only purchase the units from them and they have a "paper weight" policy where once it's activated it cannot be activated by anyone else. You'll see why they do that in a minute. Here is the start of the scam....

Barracuda doesn't tell you what the actual specs are to the device you're buying, they advertise "features" such as: Supports up to 300 users, 50 domains, phone tech support, etc. What they don't tell you is that the $2,000 unit is actually a big piece of crap worth about $75, no joke. It has about a 10 year old ATX motherboard that is worth about ten bucks, a single 40gb IDE hard drive despite the motherboard actually having a SATA port, one stick of 512mb of ram while leaving the second memory slot free, and a very low wattage power supply. Oh and their is no raid whatsoever, so when your one hard drive dies, you are out of luck. It is a total joke to sell a piece of crap like that for $2,000.

Their next model up (model 400) doubles the size of everything the 300 model has but they do it in a way that sounds like you're getting a lot. The 400 model sells for about $3900 and only difference is it comes with an 80gb IDE hard drive. I kid you not people. And then to make the scam complete, they send you firmware updates about twice a month and each update they send you makes the unit go slower and slower and slower until it finally won't even respond. Think I'm kidding? We couldn't even log into our unit anymore without pulling the power cord and plugging it back in, and even then we only had about 5 minutes to do what we needed to until it locked up again. It would still deliver email, but we couldn't get into the web GUI to administer it after about 5 minutes.

These jokers at Barracuda even then have the nerve to offer an Instant Replacement program (IR) for $400 a year to make sure you always get a replacement if and when it goes out. We finally had enough and so we asked them if we could switch to a virtual unit or run the software ourselves. They didn't allow that for obvious reasons (it would mess with their master scam). Well now most competitors of theirs offer virtual devices, and are probably what most customers prefer because they can use their own hardware and be up and running right away. So finally Barracuda decided to offer a virtual appliance for it's customers. I'm sure their greedy / cheating executives had several meetings about how they were going to do this because it interfered with their master scam. This is what they came up with: Barracuda offers a virtual appliance but you have to pay $1500 a year for the subscription instead of the regular $699 that you pay when you have a hardware unit. Yes I'm dead serious. They try to claim that it's a different "solution" but that is total crap, it's the same exact thing. It is a TOTAL SCAM.

Barracuda has really sunk to the lowest of low and they do it right in broad daylight. This is a disgrace to IT administrators everywhere because they think they can pull this over on you and we'll just take it. If you try to call them and confront them about it, you can tell right away that they have heard it many times before and just don't give a crap. Barracuda Networks are a two-bit scam artist company who has a great product but feels that isn't enough to rely on that they have to go the extra mile to squeeze every last dollar out of a customer by shady, deceptive and down right evil tactics. I've filed a notice to the US attorney general's office and the state attorney general's office of Texas and I hope you do the same.

By tphelps19 on 7 Jun 2012

Barracuda is a total scam.

I'm sorry but I have to comment about Barracuda.....

They are a TOTAL SCAM of a business. They do a great job of blocking spam, don't get me wrong, but that's only half of the story. So Barracuda Networks has a program where they sell you their hardware, it's a little 1u racked unit and you manage the administration of it through a little web interface. We purchased their 300 model for $2,000. You can only purchase the units from them and they have a "paper weight" policy where once it's activated it cannot be activated by anyone else. You'll see why they do that in a minute. Here is the start of the scam....

Barracuda doesn't tell you what the actual specs are to the device you're buying, they advertise "features" such as: Supports up to 300 users, 50 domains, phone tech support, etc. What they don't tell you is that the $2,000 unit is actually a big piece of crap worth about $75, no joke. It has about a 10 year old ATX motherboard that is worth about ten bucks, a single 40gb IDE hard drive despite the motherboard actually having a SATA port, one stick of 512mb of ram while leaving the second memory slot free, and a very low wattage power supply. Oh and their is no raid whatsoever, so when your one hard drive dies, you are out of luck. It is a total joke to sell a piece of crap like that for $2,000.

Their next model up (model 400) doubles the size of everything the 300 model has but they do it in a way that sounds like you're getting a lot. The 400 model sells for about $3900 and only difference is it comes with an 80gb IDE hard drive. I kid you not people. And then to make the scam complete, they send you firmware updates about twice a month and each update they send you makes the unit go slower and slower and slower until it finally won't even respond. Think I'm kidding? We couldn't even log into our unit anymore without pulling the power cord and plugging it back in, and even then we only had about 5 minutes to do what we needed to until it locked up again. It would still deliver email, but we couldn't get into the web GUI to administer it after about 5 minutes.

These jokers at Barracuda even then have the nerve to offer an Instant Replacement program (IR) for $400 a year to make sure you always get a replacement if and when it goes out. We finally had enough and so we asked them if we could switch to a virtual unit or run the software ourselves. They didn't allow that for obvious reasons (it would mess with their master scam). Well now most competitors of theirs offer virtual devices, and are probably what most customers prefer because they can use their own hardware and be up and running right away. So finally Barracuda decided to offer a virtual appliance for it's customers. I'm sure their greedy / cheating executives had several meetings about how they were going to do this because it interfered with their master scam. This is what they came up with: Barracuda offers a virtual appliance but you have to pay $1500 a year for the subscription instead of the regular $699 that you pay when you have a hardware unit. Yes I'm dead serious. They try to claim that it's a different "solution" but that is total crap, it's the same exact thing. It is a TOTAL SCAM.

Barracuda has really sunk to the lowest of low and they do it right in broad daylight. This is a disgrace to IT administrators everywhere because they think they can pull this over on you and we'll just take it. If you try to call them and confront them about it, you can tell right away that they have heard it many times before and just don't give a crap. Barracuda Networks are a two-bit scam artist company who has a great product but feels that isn't enough to rely on that they have to go the extra mile to squeeze every last dollar out of a customer by shady, deceptive and down right evil tactics. I've filed a notice to the US attorney general's office and the state attorney general's office of Texas and I hope you do the same.

By tphelps19 on 7 Jun 2012

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