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 Umax/Maxgate UGate Plus Cable/xDSL Internet Sharing Device

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 4/1/1999

Bottom Line:          Great little box if you're tired of hassling with Proxy/NAT software or have larger LANS to share.

Updated 11/21/00 Added IPsec passthru support info.

Updated 11/13/00 Removed mention of email feature, which was removed from firmware some time ago!

Updated 7/27/00 LAN connection now is autosensing 10/100 BaseT.

Updated 5/25/00 Info updated to show RoadRunner TAS login support.

Updated 3/20/00 PPPoE is now supported.

Updated 1/24/00 Corrected "exposed computer" information. Only one computer can be exposed at a time.

The UMAX UGate Plus (UGP) is a Ethernet to Ethernet NAT-based router in a package smaller than your average paperback book. It comes in one version that supports an unlimited number of users.  Throughput is rated at 2-2.5Mbps.

There's not a lot to the box.  It has one 10baseT RJ45 jacks for the WAN, one 10/100BaseT jack for the LAN, a couple of indicator lights, a reset/reboot button, a power input jack, and two dipswitches used to re-initialize the unit.  The unit is powered by a small external power unit.

3/20/00 PPPoE is now supported. More info here.

The UGP does have a few limitations, however:

  • it doesn't function as a VPN (PPTP) server although one VPN (PPTP) client machine is now supported.  It will also support IPsec passthru with firmware 6.5R1c or higher.  Owners of existing UGate Pluses can download a new firmware update utility and new firmware.  Go here for more info.

Installation and troubleshooting hints for the Ugate Plus can be found here.

You can get the UGP User manual here in PDF format.


Installation is relatively easy, with only one catch.  The UGP's settings are accessed by a computer configured with TCP/IP and running any web browser.   The default IP address of the UGP is, a common address setting (and the one that I recommend in my LAN setup instructions).

If any computer on the LAN that you connect the UGP's LAN port to has an IP address of assigned, you'll get an address conflict.  You'll need to either change the address of the conflicting computer, or temporarily unplug it from the LAN until you use another computer to reset the UGPs address to one that doesn't conflict.

Once you get past this, installation consists of:

  • plugging your LAN into the UGP LAN port
  • plugging your cable or DSL modem into the UGP WAN port
  • setting up the WAN port
  • setting up the LAN port

The LAN port can run a DHCP server to provide your LAN clients with their TCP/IP address, Gateway and DNS information.  The WAN port can either function as a DHCP client, or you can configure it manually,  whichever your ISP requires.

Important! If your ISP locks your service to a specific Network card (like MediaOne here in the Boston MA area), you'll have to call them and give them the MAC address of the UGP.  If you don't do this, the UGP won't be recognized by your ISPs DHCP server and you won't get a network connection.

The UGP can handle just about any network configuration you can come up with.  It can co-exist with other DHCP servers and routers (it has a static routing table you can configure).

Updated 5/25/00 The UGP now has RoadRunner TAS login support.

You can remotely administer it via web browser (it has password protection).


Since it's a NAT-based router, you get firewall protection from any unwanted inbound traffic.  The UGP, however, offers a variety of ways for you to control what gets in and out of your LAN:

  • The "Special Applications" feature allows you to specify outbound and inbound ports numbers (or range of numbers) that UDP or TCP traffic can pass through.

  • The "Virtual Servers" feature provides an easier way (than opening up specific port numbers using the "Special Applications" feature) to allow users outside your LAN to access servers on your LAN. The most common server types (WWW, POP, Telnet, News, etc) just require checking a checkbox and filling in an IP number of the computer running the server.  There's also a provision for defining your own types of "Virtual Servers".

  • Finally, you can use the "Exposed Computer" option to effectively place one computer at a time on your LAN outside the UGP firewall, allowing complete Internet access.

If you are going to open holes in your firewall by using the features above, please read this information on Security.


Control yourself!
The UGP provides a flexible set of outbound access controls:

  • You can define access groups that consist of specific workstations and assign different privileges to each one.

  • You can filter common applications/services (FTP, News, WWW, etc)

  • You can define your own UDP or TCP packet filters.

There isn't provision, however, for filtering by time periods.


There are a few things that the UGP won't do:

  • It won't function as a Virtual Private Network (VPN) server. 

  • It doesn't support traffic logging.

  • It doesn't provide content filtering.

So, I'm sure there are some of you asking, "Why would I want to spend $140 for something that I can get for about $40?" (since that's what the average Proxy or NAT program that runs on a Windows box costs).

After living with this little guy for a few weeks, I'll give you one word:

For a small home-based LAN of a few machines, and that has a computer-knowledgeable person around on a regular basis, a software Proxy/NAT solution works fine. Yeah, so you have to reboot the Proxy/NAT machine on a regular basis, that's normal for Windows anyway, right?

Not with the UGP.  Once you set it up, it just works, and with good throughput too!  I definitely would recommend the UGP to small businesses and users with reasonably large LANs (more than 3-4 machines).  No more calls from users/clients saying that they can't access the internet.  Ahhhh, bliss!

On the other hand, if you're handy with *nix and have a spare 486 or better computer around, by all means go for setting up a *nix based router.  Just don't call me if you can't get it to work!

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