WatchGuard XTM 23-W review

We’ve often criticised WatchGuard for being too complex to manage. With the launch of the XTM 2 series of security appliances, the company tells us this flaw has been fixed. Read this exclusive review of the new XTM 23-W to find out if it has succeeded.

The WebBlocker URL filtering service can be configured on a per-policy basis and has over fifty categories that can be blocked or allowed. We tested this with a number of client systems and found we could easily block access to work sapping web sites with very few slipping through WebBlocker's net.

The Commtouch hosted service looks after anti-spam and is easy to configure as you enable the POP3 and SMTP proxies in your policy and decide how to handle suspect messages. However, if you choose not to use the quarantine server then you can only tag suspect messages and pass them on to be handled by your mail server or client.

WatchGuard's application awareness gives you more control over Facebook activities with specific controls for handling logins, web mail and chat. We also tested this with Windows Live Messenger and found we could use policies to decide whether users were allowed to login, transfer files, play games or chat.

P2P come under its remit and the list of predefined apps includes BitTorrent allowing policies to be used to control login access and file transfers. WatchGuard's application list also includes remote control apps such as RDP and GoToMyPC so you can decide who is allowed to use these.

The XTM 23-W is a significant update to WatchGuard's XTM appliances and shows it has a much sharper focus on small businesses that want to manage their own gateway security. The range of new features introduced with this appliance is impressive and a lot more tasks have been automated making it much easier to manage.

So what's our verdict?


The improved web interface for the XTM 23-W makes it much more appealing to small businesses requiring a single, easily managed UTM security appliance. It’s good value as there are no user restrictions and the new application awareness features provide greater levels of control over social networking plus IM and P2P apps.

Chassis: Desktop Performance: 195Mb/sec firewall; 40Mb/sec UTM Memory: 256MB RAM Network: 3 x 10/100Mbit/s, 3 x Gigabit Ethernet Wireless: 802.11b/g/n Ports: 2 x USB2 Management: Web browser or WatchGuard software Software: WatchGuard System and Firebox Managers plus WebBlocker, Report, Log and Quarantine servers included

Dave Mitchell

Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.

Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.