Managed and Unmanaged Antivirus

One question facing many growing SMBs is when to switch from unmanaged to managed anti-virus. It’s a company with 3 computers does not need a managed solution. A company with 3,000 computers does. The question is when a company needs to make the change to a centralized management system.

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) – Unmanaged Anti-Virus

For small businesses without the infrastructure to run a managed anti-virus, we recommend Microsoft Security Essentials. MSE is free on any genuine copy of Windows. It also has a lighter impact on system performance than most commercial unmanaged anti-viruses.

Problems With MSE/Unmanaged Anti-Virus

Unmanaged anti-viruses, like MSE, have a problem. End users can disable it or uninstall it like any other program. They can also ignore the “definition update” request, causing the anti-virus to become out of date, and not protect against the latest threats. It’s a headache for any IT department to educate users, or track down the renegades who disable/uninstall their anti-virus to play games, or download ‘free ringtones’.

Advantages of Managed Anti-Virus

So, you may ask, how can we fix these problems? Managed anti-virus software solves these issues by taking control of the program out of users’ hands. It can’t be uninstalled or disabled without a password. Updates are downloaded and applied automatically, to protect against the latest threats. The IT department can manage it all centrally, to their hearts’ content. Everyone wins!

Disadvantages of Managed Anti-Virus

The downside to managed anti-virus is cost. There’s no free managed anti-virus solution. Be prepared to spend an average of $35/year per license seat. You may be leery of spending that much money, but it’s a great deal cheaper than regularly calling in IT to scrub a virus.

Properly managed anti-virus needs to have a small amount of monitoring done by a live person, to ensure that everything runs smoothly. SMBs without an internal IT department, or dedicated IT resource should consider a managed service contract. It’s important to have someone on the job to resolve issues that come up and monitor the software for problems.

When To Switch To Managed Anti-Virus

I recommend that you switch to managed anti-virus when you reach 15 to 75 users. A managed anti-virus solution requires that you deploy it on an always-on server, so it’s not an option for a company with 5 workstations and no server or Remote Management System running.

If you’re in the process of upgrading or installing a new server, consider anti-virus as well. A reduced overall down-time is a huge benefit! You will have to upgrade to a managed anti-virus solution sooner or later, so get it done when an opportunity presents itself.

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