Pure Network Magic is the kind of program that really should be embedded in Windows XP or Vista but isn't. As home networks become commonplace, we really need a way to view all of the PCs on the network and manage who gets to access and share what. Version 4, which is a free upgrade for existing Premium users, has added more helpful wizards to walk through network repair and set up folder and printer sharing.
Printer sharing is much easier to set up here than in Windows XP or Vista. The new Speed Test takes about 15 seconds to give a quick read on the download and upload speeds of your connection using the closest test servers. During our tests, Network Magic matched third-party tests accurately. In all, the version 4 upgrade is a no-brainer for current owners and an additional lure for newcomers.
The program installs easily and did a fair job identifying the devices and PCs on our network. The $29.99 license applies to three PCs, so you should install the program onto each node of the network to get the optimal functionality for printer and file sharing. We discovered that Network Magic had trouble identifying PCs unless we installed the program everywhere.
What this software does best is provide an overall picture of the network and of which clients are connected. Much more easily than in Windows XP or Vista, Network Magic lets you target specific folders for sharing and then get an overview of what printers and folders are being shared across the network. It issues alerts when new devices come onto the network and can even log network activity to detect outside piggybackers on your wireless network. Well-made wizards walk you through a lot of troubleshooting maneuvers like strengthening your network's security or restoring broken or poor Internet access.