By: Luis Tobon/Content Editor
It’s a brand new school year here at Blue Ridge, and many are still shaking off the summer dust. I’m sure by now that we’ve all had the chance to become familiar with the new policies. With the new changes however, we often did end up at a brick wall with our system, namely our internet. A student here, Carson Koehler, even commented “Yes, the internet was terrible.”
It was no secret that our internet proved to be rather faulty. It was constantly flickering, very slow, or had any other problem you can think of. The Sonicwall web filter had been causing many set backs for classes, students, and teachers since its purchase.
You need not look far for evidence of the problems Sonicwall brings. In its early days, it was nearly impossible to find diverse resources online that weren’t blocked due to being “unrated.” Research papers proved to be difficult. Even teachers found it bothersome when they tried to have their class use a particular website, only to be blocked and have plans ruined. Our journalism class had a major set back (nearly a week) due to a website blockage, essential to making profiles for the Raider Reader.
So where is the use in such a program like this? It’s difficult to slide into inappropriate content or websites that are not allowed when our biggest connection to the internet (cell phones) has been severed and the internet hasn’t even been working as of lately. Unmonitored illicit web surfing appears to be rather difficult. But it’s fundamental that we have some sort of safety measure against anything of the sort. But will it be Sonicwall?
After an interview with one of our IT Specialist, Dawn Crook, I was able to uncover some interesting facts about our program, and was able to shed some light on it’s future. The program cost roughly $18,000-20,000 to purchase. But that’s the device itself. The upkeep and maintenance ranges from $1,800-$3,000 a year, which in summary, is it’s insurance. This insurance covers any damage, bugs, and updates essential for maximum efficiency. A rather expensive investment for it to be so problematic, no? As it turns out, Mrs. Crook pointed out that the administration actually really liked this new web filter. But why is that?
As it turns out, the algorithm actually evolves with the information it’s given, expanding to see what’s safe and what’s not. It’s much like a spam filter, it detects patterns. Feed it a bit of information and watch it work. Hence why we can certainly expect the future to become simpler and easier to manage. Sonic Wall is in reality able to perform competitively compared to other web filters. It turns out, there are few other web filters able to rival Sonicwall’s sophisticated functions. The insurance plan helps maintain any problems we may encounter in the future as well.
Another noteworthy thing to point out is our new network improvements. People may recall how in the early weeks of school, the internet would flicker like a candle. One minute it’s working, the next, it’s gone. As it turns out, this is the result of an extensive improvement designed to increase our network speed. Over the summer, our IT department had installed these. The fading of the internet was the result of minor bugs in the early system, due to the expansion. Even when Sonic Wall blocks a website that is necessary for a class, all that’s needed is a phone call down to the IT department. The staff will update the algorithm and the website should be accessible.
Through rather extensive research, it’s conclusive that Sonicwall will be here to stay for a very long time. With it’s constant updates and quick fixes, it ensures us the chance for few problems in the future years.