AVG 7 Network Edition review
The free version of AVG has been a staple diet for home users during the last few years. But the decision to discontinue support for version 6, coupled with oft-reported problems getting updates for the new version 7, has been testing that loyalty.
If you want high-quality support and hassle-free connections to that all important update server, then the commercial versions should be considered – these haven’t experienced the same updating problems because they’re served up from a different machine. What’s more, the updating process has been overhauled to make it more efficient by reducing the size of update files. We were impressed by the flexibility of this function, which can be configured so that each machine (in a small network, or off-site laptops, for example) can update directly from the Internet or via completely centralised updating for the larger LAN.
An email alert system is available so that the network administrator can be informed as soon as any new virus or program updates are available. And if you don’t want to use the AVG Admin module, as in the case of some smaller networks, these updates can be scheduled for updating via a shared directory. Greater security is offered using AVG Admin though, as central updating can then be carried out using HTTP without a shared directory.
The administration module is free with AVG Network Edition, and includes an integrated TCP server and Firebird Database for efficient installation and management, although it can also be linked to an SQL/MySQL installation when there are more than 500 workstations present. AVG Admin also brings remote installation/configuration, remote updates, remote scanning and detailed logging to the party.
There’s been some tweaking to the user interface of AVG, and this shows in both the basic interface for clients and the advanced one, which offers much greater control over features, such as the ability to set schedules.
The array of different versions can be somewhat confusing, but this Network Edition provides the best option for LANs ranging in size from five to 100 workstations, assuming that you require the central updating feature. If not, then AVG SoHo Edition makes better financial sense. The same, very effective, combination of virus-detection modes are included whichever you choose; namely, heuristic analysis and generic detection coupled to integrity checking. During our testing for this review it successfully caught and quarantined every infection we introduced onto the test network; be that by email or squirted directly into the server or a workstation. It’s surprisingly quick too, thanks to the fact that the scanning engine has been tweaked considerably for the version 7 release. This tweaking is evident not only in the speed of scanning but also the minimal impact upon system resources, although unfortunately the same can’t be said of the slightly sluggish email-scanning component. This supports Outlook 2000 onwards using integrated plug-ins, as well as any client using standard POP3/SMTP protocols.
When it comes to cost, all licences run for a full two years, providing both virus database and program updates, as well as technical support. Pricing starts at £84 (exc VAT) for a five-user licence, which works out to just £8.40 per seat, per year, right through to a 100-user licence for £725, which is just £3.62 per seat, per year. However, it’s worth noting that you don’t get the ability to scan at mail-server level, at least not out of the box. Instead, you need to make an additional purchase in the form of AVG 7 Email and Gateway Edition, which starts at £67 for a five-mailbox licence, or another £6.70 per account, per year. Plug-ins are included for Microsoft Exchange 5.5/2000/2003, Lotus Notes/Domino 4.6+, R5 and R6 – other email servers are supported using the AVG API library. So, for a smaller company requiring server-level email scanning, the true cost is £15.10 per user, per year for five seats – a larger company with the same needs but for 100 seats will be looking at a more acceptable per-user cost of £6.50 annually. Bear in mind that these figures apply only if you have exactly the same number of mailboxes as users. If, as is likely, there are more mail accounts than physical users then you’d need more of the Email and Gateway licences.