Small businesses running Microsoft Small Business Server have not had an easy time finding antivirus software.  Security suites designed for large companies are frequently complex, difficult to install and configure, and all too often require an inordinate amount of handholding.

On the other hand, every small business discovers a shortcoming of security software that is managed individually by each user: there’s always someone who doesn’t pay attention.  As a consultant collecting an hourly fee, I’m reluctant to log onto each workstation in a client’s office individually every couple of weeks to check whether updates have been installed and whether virus definitions are up to date.  These days though, the consequences of falling behind can be dire indeed.

Windows Live OneCare has offered a compromise for the smallest of offices, letting a single workstation monitor the status of a “circle” of computers in the network.  Theoretically that’s limited to three computers, although I’ve successfully used it for larger groups.  I’ve got some clients who can and should continue to use OneCare with a central computer monitoring the group.

Small Business Server 2008 increases the desire for centrally managed security, because it does other management chores so well.  Windows Server Update Services, for example, takes over the task of downloading Windows updates, monitoring and installing the updates on each workstation, and reporting on results.  I had terrible experiences with WSUS when it was first released for Small Business Server 2003 R2, but the version integrated with Small Business Server 2008 is working flawlessly so far.

As I move around in the Small Business Server community online, I consistently see Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security Advanced identified as the program of choice for Small Business Server networks. My experience installing it on my own SBS network has been beautiful so far – all the default choices were the right choices, installation on the workstations took only a moment, and no restart of the server or workstations was required. The program installed on the individual workstations is extremely light and unobtrusive.

The server-based security suites cost about $40.00 per user per year, more than the individual programs, and certainly more than OneCare and other antivirus programs in the last couple of years, which have sometimes cost almost nothing or been given away.  That cost will quickly be recovered, however, if I don’t have to bill for checking the computers manually, and of course the cost is trivial compared to the cost of a computer or network brought down by out of date security software.

I’m going to settle on the Trend Micro suite and recommend it to my SBS clients. I expect quirks and glitches but at the moment I’m optimistic that it will serve you well.

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