Anti Virus Roundup

Symantec's anti virus product, as we have said in previous reviews of it, is a real heavyweight, capable of supporting many clients and available on a multitude of platforms. We are focusing on the Windows release in this test.

A seasoned anti virus product, and with a pedigree in the business world, so we had high hopes for the latest release. Although only a point release in name, a lot of work has gone into the product since 10.1, though its mostly under the bonnet so you will be hard pressed to notice any major differences from the product we looked at last year.

Installation was straightforward, though it took rather a long time. Initial scan also went through without incident, though it took a heavy toll on the machine and it was impossible to perform any meaningful use while scanning the files. During day-to-day use, we were disappointed to find that the main client application (doscan.exe) is prone to frequent crashes on start-up. This does not inspire confidence.

The system offers a wide range of alerting options including email messages, broadcast messages and SNMP traps. User programs can also be set to run when specific alerts occur, allowing an increased range of responses to meet particular needs. We really like this, as when we applied our test viruses, the wide range of reporting options the anti virus application can send up the electronic equivalent of multiple flares to signal anyone and everyone that there is a threat. It could also be classed as a little overkill in a smaller environment, but its fully configurable and easy to manipulate.

The main configuration and management options are extensive. Showing its enterprise credentials, the Symantec product offers a host of central management options from locally hosting and serving updates to centralised policy management and stats. Web-based graphical reporting is excellent, and Symantec is the only tool to offer this. Even in a smaller environment, we think this is a very useful tool to have available, allowing IT to centrally analyse a range of data relating to updates and threats.

The thing is, all this functionality, combined with a somewhat clumsy and daunting set of configuration menus makes for a clumsy, lumbering product that for all its good points, would be far better at home in a company of 1,000 than one with 25 or 50.

Symantec's product is big, powerful, and carries much of the baggage of a big enterprise product trying to fit into a smaller corporate environment. It's perfectly capable at what id does, but there are better, easier to manage products available that will have less of an impact on client productivity, particularly during updates. It is even worth considering the perfectly capable and lower impact Norton Antivirus 2007, which retains many of the features, but having been tailored to the consumer user, has less of an impact on the client it is installed on.


Symantec's product is a heavy hitter, but it's starting to show its age, and the current 10.2 version really isn't showing too much that differs from the 10.1 release we reviewed last year.