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I am a solo IT employee for a small company that has a couple of servers and 10 workstations (Windows and Mac, Macs do not run AV software).

I want to centrally manage Anti-Virus for all the computers with some sort of control panel.

I have been using Symantec Corporate versions for years, but the latest version (Symantec Endpoint Protection 11.x) is totally over-complicated, and aimed at enterprises with 1000s of computers.

Can anyone recommend something reliable, centrally managed, and simple?

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BTW: We are running a workgroup, no Domain, no Active Directory –  jmsmcfrlnd Apr 30 '09 at 21:31
    
Still watching this question. So far, we have: AVG ESET NOD32 Sophos Any others? –  jmsmcfrlnd May 2 '09 at 12:12

10 Answers 10

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I use ESET NOD32 for all our Windows machines in a smallish dev shop. The central management is great: I can disseminate new configuration files with minimal fuss, schedule virus scans, push installations (I deployed across our entire network without leaving my desk), and do a number of other things I've never found necessary.

Performance and unobtrusive profile were our major requirements, and NOD32 meets both of those. (see this conversation for details). Pricing is also very reasonable - we paid between $20-$25 per seat.

The only disadvantage I see is lack of Mac support. I wasn't entirely clear from your question whether you were looking to get this software on the Macs as well, but if so, this isn't the product for you.

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I'm using AVG Network Edition across a group of machines that all require scanning at different times. I often find that the clients ignore some of the settings you set within the admin panel such as different schedules for groups of machines. I've contacted AVG support regarding this and they constantly go in circles and are unable to provide any reasonable support. For this reason, I do not recommend AVG.

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Sophos is the one I used in a similar situation. Very easy to use and work with, worked on the main server and pulled updates from Sophos to deploy to user workstations, etc, etc, etc.

Relatively inexpensive, and very comprehensive central command, control, and monitoring.

-Adam

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Our current install (version 4) of ESET NOD32 seems to be working a treat, it just sits in the background and doesn't interfere too much - you get a quick start-up popup, and the occasional taskbar message saying an update has occurred, but that's it. Performance on our oldest machines (P4s with 512MB of RAM) is acceptable. Have heard some grumblings about the latest release, but no experience of it myself.

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Yeah, the new Version 4 blue screened my Vista x64 SP 2 machine :( –  duckworth May 8 '09 at 20:46

Trend Micro's Worry Free Business Security 5.1 (soon to be version 6) is a great replacement, in my opinion.

It is loaded on the server, licensed and administered centrally. The administration console runs from Internet Explorer (ActiveX controls), so any computer able to access the server via TCP can be used to launch the console.

It will use an existing mail server to drop reports and alarms, with a small amount of adjustability in threshold levels.

I also have had to clean up after multiple Symantec explosions, and a few Trend Micro explosions, and Trend Micro is by FAR the easiest to tame. Symantec can easily take an hour to clean out the registry. I've even been able to recover a TM installation that crashed (thick dust bunny lodged in CPU fan creating thermal event), just by starting the install again, uninstalling, then reinstalling. Symantec would have been a nightmare...

Trend Micro also offers hosted email solutions, in addition to their product that sits on an Exchange Box (WFBS Advanced), though my experience is all with the latter.

Decent spam detection/removal, excellent virus detection/removal, and better prevention of trojans when the Reputation Service is used (browser URL monitor).

It will work with an existing IIS installation or install Apache, if need be.

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I have only used so many - we are currently testing some out as we prepare to do a new roll out ourselves. So far, AVG is working great in our tests and everyone that I speak to really like it.

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We have tried them all for all different clients at different stages. We are now deploying F-Secure. You get the control panel for free and it supports multiple platforms. They have a small business edition which covers your servers as well. The best thing about it is that it covers viruses, spyware, phishing, etc. The footprint is reasonable and it can be deployed remotely from the command center. Good Luck!

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ForeFront Client Security is easy to use, easy to deploy and easy to manage via AD Group Policy. The server side is a bit heavy though, but updates are deployed via WSUS and Windows Update.

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Interesting, but I don't use AD - can it be used without AD? –  jmsmcfrlnd May 8 '09 at 21:01

I have said it before, on a different question. I wholeheartly recommend Symantec AV Enterprise edition. It is robust, constantly up-to-date, consumes very little resources, highly effective.

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Interesting comment - how many machines are you managing? What percentage of your responsibility is dedicated to virus management? –  jmsmcfrlnd May 8 '09 at 21:03
    
We have a bit more than 1000 machines (including our two labs). I am the 100% responsible for them, and use the Symantec Antivirus Administration Console for their management. Very easy thing, pretty much set and forget. –  user1797 May 8 '09 at 21:25

Centrally managed may be overkill for this small a network. The console requires some admin, so with only a dozen computers you won't save much time over a visit to each machine to click the update button.

We use Symantec A/V here (150 PCs), and have the A/V console on the same server that we use for aggregating Windows Updates. I wouldn't recommend it for any smaller networks, because it does require management.

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