Inty ExoServer XL

  • Editors' rating
    6.3 Good


  • Strong antivirus, spam- and content-filtering services


  • Security applications add to the price

The emphasis at Inty is on secure email and Internet access, the company offering a range of ExoServer appliances that can either be purchased or included as part of a managed service. Firewall and VPN servers come built-in as standard on all models with anti-virus, anti-spam and content filtering available as optional add-ons.

ExoServer appliances are available to handle everything from five to over a thousand users, and are particularly popular in the education market. We looked at an ExoServer XL which, the company claims, is suitable for 200-500 users and looks like a large, brightly coloured PC. And that’s, more or less, what it is: inside the blue and orange XL box, there's a 2.4GHz Celeron processor, 512MB of RAM and 120GB hard disk.

Three 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports are provided, together with an internal ADSL modem on the review model, enabling a range of gateway configurations to be accommodated.

Unusually, the software is based on FreeBSD Unix, with additional applications from various vendors, all configured and managed via a browser. The interface is straightforward enough, and is backed up with lots of clear documentation, making for quick and easy deployment. Moreover, you get the usual DHCP server for address assignment and a firewall pre-configured for maximum security, plus the VPN gateway that supports both PPTP and IPSec tunnelling. Client software for VPN access, however, isn’t included.

As with virtually all SME server appliances, SMB file sharing is provided, along with email, Internet caching and Web servers. Three additional security modules can also be deployed, starting with MailDefender Anti-Virus, based on Sophos technology. This scans all types of network traffic -- including email sent and received by the server -- for viruses, while the separate MailDefender anti-spam module (developed by Inty itself) blocks spam by both checking against a blacklist of known senders and by looking for known characteristics.

Lastly there’s an Advanced Web Content Filtering module that uses N2H2 technology to block access based on Web site categories, further extending the core URL access controls included as standard. URL lists can be a bit cumbersome to manage, although regularly updated lists of pornographic sites are available free of charge.

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The cost of the add-on modules varies depending on the number of users, full protection typically costing around £2-3 per user per month. Similarly, when opting for a managed service, the solution is priced per user with the ability to adjust numbers to suit, for example, seasonal fluctuations in staffing levels.