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Portmaster: cross-platform network monitor


Portmaster: cross-platform network monitor

Portmaster is a free, open source network activity monitor for Windows, Ubuntu, and Fedora.

Portmaster combines standard network activity monitoring with extra functionality, such as requiring secure DNS or automatically banning ads, trackers, and dangerous hosts using filter lists.

Because Portmaster is free to use, the subject of funding development arises. The Portmaster website has further details. They’ll employ a freemium model. Portmaster is free for all users, however other services, such as a VPN, are available for a fee. This generates development funds.

There is an early version of Portmaster for both Windows and Linux. At the time, it is put out for testing and development. Alpha software might have bugs and other problems, so it shouldn’t be put on machines that are used for production.

The team working on the project says that the alpha label is “more about missing features than instability.” For the first beta release, there will be options for importing and exporting, support for custom filter lists, updates that are signed with cryptography, and a full-device network monitor.

Installation is easy on Windows, but you have to restart your computer to finish the process. The interface is modern and well-made. On the main page, you can see a list of recent network activity, including the total number of connections and the share of connections that were allowed and those that were blocked.

When you click on an application or service in the list of network activity, you can see information about each connection made in the past, such as its name and path.

For each connection, the target, whether or not the data was encrypted, the IP addresses, and the countries where the IP addresses are located are all written down.

Each application can have its own set of settings. Users can also block all network activity and change a number of connection-specific options. Among others:

  • Switch between default network actions: allow, block, prompt.
  • Block Internet or LAN connectivity.
  • Block P2P/Direct Connections
  • Block incoming connections.
  • Configure outgoing rules.
  • Apply filter lists, e.g. ad and tracker blocking, malware hosts

All of these can be set globally, so that all applications and services use the same settings by default. Override options are available for individual apps.

In the All Apps section, you can see a list of all the apps that have used the network recently or in the past. There is a search function that makes it easy to find apps in the list. To change how networking works by default, you can choose any application or service.

The alpha version of the paid feature SPN, Safe Privacy Network, is also included. The service was modeled after Tor because it sends connections through multiple network hops to make them more private. Multi-hop architecture is the main difference between VPNs and other networks. Some VPNs, like NordVPN, also let you connect to more than one server at once, but these connections are usually not made to hide information like the destination from each other.

Portmaster is a good network monitor because it is free, open source, and works on many platforms. There are versions for Windows and Linux, and a Mac version is in the works. The interface is well-made, and even though it’s missing some features, it works.

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