I think it is about time to give some more feedback on my WiTopia CloakBox that I wrote about June 24. This is the new technology I installed to provide VPN to all of my Internet connected devices. The types of devices I have connected are my primary PC, a Mac Mini connected to my TV for video streaming, a PS3, an iPad, and a wireless laptop.
I am happy to report as of today it is running very stable and I am a happy camper.
The router did not perform as I wanted right out of the box. It seemed to have freeze-ups that would occur and the only way to remove them was to reboot the box by unplugging it and replugging it.
However, the problems once again pointed out another thing I have repeatedly found in dealing with WiTopia. Their customer service has been topnotch. They have an online chat capability and have always been available to work with me.
Now that I am running stable, let me take you through more of the process since I received the box.
WiTopia is now shipping a different router than they originally used. They now use a Buffalo router and it is a sleek looking box as pictured above. As far as I can tell most of the online documentation that WiTopia sent me while making configuration changes were for a previous manufacturer other than Buffalo. While most routers work similar, the differences in the routers made the instructions confusing.
The first thing I had to do was to turn on wireless support so I could use my iPad. WiTopia ships the device with wireless disabled for security reasons. Too many people use wireless in a very unsafe manner. In my apartment, I can usually see three to four wireless networks active. Most are secured and require a password to connect to them.
However, once in a while a network comes up in an open mode. If I wanted to connect, I could. The fact that I can see a router in broadcast mode sending it’s ID is a security vulnerability by itself. I always turn broadcast off in my routers and recommend others do the same. If no one can see your router, they can’t try to break into it.
When I received my router, it was configured to to a European location. To change the server location requires entering the administrative mode in the router and making a change. It is not a difficult task, but you have to feel comfortable making changes within a router. I have owned many routers before and am very familiar with the process. This is also how you have to turn on wireless and turn off wireless broadcast mode.
There are currently 13 US gateways, 2 Canadian gateways, 5 central America gateways, 19 European gateways, one Africa gateway, 7 Asian gateways and one in Australia.
After changing the server location to one that I wanted, I started using the system. While I have several devices that are connected to the router, rarely are more than two active.
As I said before, it was a bumpy road for a while. When I would bring up my PC in the morning I might get a lockup. Sometimes I would and sometimes I wouldn’t. If I ran speedtest.net, it would always lockup when the upload test would begin. Likewise if I ran FTP to upload photos to Chiriquí Chatter, it would hang. I would have to turn of VPN and then all worked fine.
I had several live chats with support personnel in WiTopia, but nothing worked. Then they passed me to their CloakBox specialists and I was given some different instructions. After one misstep on my part of applying one fix incorrectly, the problem was solved.
I can now run speedtest.net without problem. I have done several FTPs without problem. I have used MagicJack without problem. Yesterday, I downloaded Apple Lion with only one problem and it had nothing to do with CloakBox. I have not rebooted my CloakBox in over 48 hours. I am using a trial of Amazon Prime and have watched several movies. Streaming has been fine to this point. I am enjoying being able to play Pandora on my iPad while surfing the net.
If I were asked what WiTopia needed to do better, I would say some of their documentation needs to be updated for the Buffalo router. This isn’t a real big deal, because most router administration is similar. The other thing I would like to see is a $10 fee to add VPN to the iPad, if I am away from my house. At present, if I wanted to use the iPad on another trip, I would have to purchase a $39 personalVPN™ package.
In the PC only solution you could purchase a personalVPN™ Pro package for $10 more than a personalVPN™ package and have your PC and your iPad would be covered. That will only be a problem when I get ready for my next trip and who knows when that will be.
In conclusion, let me say I am super happy with my CloakBox™ Pro VPN Router and even more because the support I have had from WiTopia had been the best online service I have ever dealt with.