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I'm working with an organization that would like to start using a old Barracuda Spam Filter 300 unit. I've sold and configured plenty of these, but was surprised to see that this unit's warranty lapsed by 6 months. The company was acquired and this equipment came along in the transfer. I called in to Barracuda and was promptly directed to their Warranty and License agreement. In short, they will not renew or extend a warranty on their hardware products to anyone except for the original owner. No exceptions! This means no firmware or virus updates.

A little more probing and I discovered dozens of used Barracuda devices on eBay available for a tiny fraction of the original price because they are ineligible for Barracuda's subscription firmware and updates. This is upsetting, as these units are basically "bricked" from the manufacturer's perspective. The rigid practice of not allowing ownership transfers is ridiculous.

I did find a company, BarracudaPro, that focuses on restoration and repair of these units, but I'm curious if any other admins are running their Barracuda Spam/Web Filters without updates in an unsupported capacity. Any problems? Anything to watch out for?

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Interesting question - we have two BSF400s that are out of warranty, so I'll be watching this closely. –  EEAA Aug 4 '11 at 22:05
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I am not a lawyer, but I would consult one on this case. It's not like the original owner sold this device, instead he was bought himself, including all rights, contracts and equipments. Barracuda wouldn't wait a second to claim any possible outstanding debts from the new owner if there where any. –  Sven Aug 4 '11 at 22:10
    
I have another client that bought a Spam Filter 3 years ago, but accidentally bought the SKU with 1 year of updates instead of 3. The unit was used for 1 year, then shelved. We were planning to outsource spam, but ended up going in-house. Barracuda did say that we could renew the warranty, but only if we paid for support from the end of the support period to the present, in addition to the forthcoming 3 year's worth. They don't allow for gaps in coverage. –  ewwhite Aug 4 '11 at 23:43
    
I'm checking with our lawyer on this specific case, but in general, it seems that their policy stands. I thought this would help other organizations who could be in the same situation. –  ewwhite Aug 5 '11 at 14:39
    
It's known as voting with your dollars. Don't like the policy, find someone else who's willing to meet your needs. –  Fiasco Labs Mar 26 '13 at 1:40

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I would suggest that they're trying to suppress the market in second hand Barracuda devices. Many are sold with 3yrs up-front, fire-and-forget, and a number end up out of use before it is over. I am sure Barracuda would rather people come and buy a brand new unit than get the last year of an old one and work from there.

Certainly it is unusual though - I speak to a fair few ex-Barracuda customers (i work for Smoothwall) and they are one of only a handful of vendors that won't play nice when you move. All we ask is that you're willing to make sure the licence is renewed, and we can move it, but then having come from a software background, we're less hung up on actual tin.

My advice would be not to bother with a system that's going to run more and more out of date - I recognise that this advice is possibly slightly biased, working for a security vendor I am bound to be keen on people staying up-to-date :) - but you're only going to get complaints down the line as performance tails off, and then you're looking at a decent sized job to replace it, even with another Barracuda, as the software will have altered in the interim.

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I would imagine it would be fine for a while, but over time as SPAM evolves and your Barracuda appliance has not been updated, you'll start seeing more and more spam and viruses.

If it were me, I would ditch it if it's not supported. If this is something that's a critical piece of your infrastructure (i.e. if it dies or has a problem, you have no email), it's good to play by the manufacturer's rules to be sure your a** is covered.

I've been through this over and over where the business wants to cheap out now because they don't want to purchase whatever needs to be purchased, then in 4 months it dies or has some major problem and you have no solution but to buy a new one, configure it, test it, etc. and 3 days later it's working again. Meanwhile the boss is pointing the finger at you when the business has no email.

Long story short, if it's critical to your business, set it up correct now, then you don't have to worry about it.

As a side note, I work with a few different manufacturers of these devices (namely Sonicwall and Cisco) and none of them have ever given me grief about transferring ownership and renewing support agreements under the new owner.

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That's what's unique about this. Barracuda refuses to deal with ownership transfers. I don't have any problem with the cost of support for 3 years (~$1800), so it's not cheaping-out in this case. I'm turned-off by the "bricking" of potentially-good equipment because of the manufacturer's policy. –  ewwhite Aug 4 '11 at 23:39
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Ditto on the Sonicwall, I've picked up units on ebay and the licenses and support agreements transfered right over. I would suggest using something else. Postini is what we opted to use, MXLogic is another. The offsite queuing and archiving make doing it inhouse not worth it. Just food for thought. –  MikeAWood Aug 5 '11 at 9:11
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@ewwhite - I'm with ya, but it sounds like it's the way Barracuda works. It's relatively common for manufacturers to make you "catch up" when you renew support if it has lapsed, but not allowing you to transfer ownership would definitely make me boil. Take your $1800 elsewhere. I second Mike's recommendation of offloading spam filtering to a hosted service like Postini. It's cheap and filters out the junk before it even hits your server. Though this wouldn't do your web filtering. –  user78940 Aug 5 '11 at 14:57

Our small business is actually taking their email to a hosted service which includes spam/virus filtering. We just renewed our license in the past 4 months and will have no need for our Barracuda 300.

At first, I was looking to sell it. That is, until I contacted Barracuda to verify their ownership transfer terms and found the same answer you did.

Now, I'm going to install Windows 2008 R2 server on the Barracuda and use it as a secondary DNS server at an off-site location.

You can also look online for ways to get pfSense (with spamD) or m0n0wall installed on it. The barracuda is nothing more than a branded ITX based computer.

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The Baracuda 300 has an Athlon XP 1900+, a 32-bit processor. Windows Server 2008 R2 will not run on it. –  Chris S Aug 30 '11 at 20:03

I agree with the idea of re purposing the box. I had an old barracuda box and installed m0n0wall on it. It now provides a captive portal for wireless at one of my remote sites. It was pretty easy to set up. I even found an image that I printed out that says "Zombiecudda Back from the dead." I can't remember where I got it but I printed it out and stuck it on the front of the box. It has worked like a charm.

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