Clearswift Web Appliance CLSE review

Price when reviewed

Clearswift has always had a keen focus on web content security, and version 2 of its Web Appliance family delivers new features aimed at providing even tougher AUP enforcement in the workplace.

Clearswift Web Appliance CLSE review

The new entry-level Web Appliance CLSE is aimed at SMBs of up to 200 users, with improved malware and phishing protection, as well as web caching and reporting. The hardware also gets an update, as the CLSE now has a well-specified Dell PowerEdge R200 at its foundation.

It was easy to install, as the appliance operates as a web proxy. Although we manually modified our client browser settings, this can be done using AD Group Policies or PAC (proxy auto-configuration) scripts. A transparent proxy mode is also supported.

Kaspersky and Sunbelt Software still handle antivirus and antispyware duties, but Clearswift has boosted its own URL database from 40 to 76 web categories. The appliance supports a maximum cache size of 10GB, which is augmented with a cache auto-purge feature, a bypass option and cache usage reporting, and if you load-balance across multiple units the cache size increases by the number of members.

The web interface has been made easier to use and the CLSE kicks off with a default access policy applied to all users. Clearswift breaks up the various features into Centers for web-filtering policies, user management, system configuration and report creation.

Policy creation hasn’t changed from previous versions, where the CLSE uses content rules and routes to define what to look for, how suspicious content should be handled, and who should be notified. Rules also define virus scans and spyware blocking, and limit upload and download file types and sizes.

Clearswift Web Appliance CLSE

Web policy routes bring everything together by assigning filtering decisions to selected targets. The new policy scheduler feature lets you choose when policies are active during the day.

Performance was excellent. Even the default policy blocked us from accessing any games or gambling websites. Online bingo was a no-go area, and Clearswift kept us away from the likes of Facebook and Twitter too. However, we did find that IM and P2P apps are beyond Clearswift’s reach. IM apps can only be controlled with additional firewall rules.

The system health page provides plenty of status graphs, and reporting has also been improved to show where URLs have been classed under multiple categories. Automatic user feedback helps to reduce the number of external sites being classed as unknown.

The Web Appliance CLSE is clearly capable of enforcing tough workplace AUPs. Its security policies cover a huge range of web-browsing activities, and the new scheduling and cache features are welcome additions.



Warranty RTB years0
Warranty C&R years0
Warranty On-site years1


Server formatRack
Server configuration1U


ProcessorIntel Pentium Dual Core E5400
CPU nominal frequency2.70GHz


Hard disk configuration160GB SATA hard disk
Total hard disk capacity160


Gigabit LAN ports2
10/100 LAN ports0

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