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We have about 20 laptops running Windows Vista or 7 and we're looking for a new antivirus solution. We're obviously looking for the lightest sufficient solution.

Several vendors seem to sell an antivirus product and an internet security suite (or whatever) product that includes antivirus, firewall and some other stuff. With recent versions of Windows, is it sufficient to get just antivirus software and use Windows utilities for the rest? Do these security suites provide something significantly more or significantly better that Windows firewall, Windows defender and whatever else that comes with Windows? Is there a relevant threat that would be missed with plain Windows and antivirus?

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3 Answers 3

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What you get from the typical security suite are some additional layers of protection, not all of which are replaceable by built in or free Windows utilities. Viruses are just one potential vector for malware to get onto your system and these suites usually attempt to both prevent infection and to limit the impact if something does get by.

Some specific additional features you might expect in these products would include intelligent outbound traffic filtering, spam/email protection, and a centralized management/reporting console. The centralized management and reporting product for ESET, which we use, was a free add-on and has added a lot of value to the product for us, even on a relatively small network.

Since you mentioned your users are on laptops, if they are mobile and ever use untrusted networks such as public WiFi I'd say they would be especially good candidates for a security suite rather than just stand-alone AV. It's worth the piece of mind.

As I mentioned in a previous answer, we've been very happy with ESET Smart Security/NOD32, and have found it to be reasonably judicious with system resources compared to other offerings, even on older systems.

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Forefront works great and is now a core cal component. What you miss with just AV is malware protection.

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I just moved our company to Vipre, I spent a week gathering information from the different sources and they provided a centrally manageable solution with a very small system footprint on the client machines. I was using McAfee, but I hated using the EPO server and they are twice as expensive as Vipre. So the choice was easy, I don’t need extra firewalls or email scanners or even web filters since I have Barracuda appliances for the filtering and I use a cisco PIX and ASA. I just wanted a scanner for the clients, Vipre gave me a great deal for 3 years and as a bonus gave me 40 additional standalone licenses. I couldn’t say no to that deal.

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FWIW, Vipre make a big song and dance about being light but my own tests indicates it's actually a severe resource hog and false positives are at least as high as anything else I've tried. Despite the low cost I found it very easy to say no. YMMV. –  John Gardeniers Apr 27 '11 at 23:03

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