If you're looking to protect your company PCs from malware then you could just equip each one with your preferred free antivirus package. You'll still get a reasonable level of protection, and it might seem like you're keeping costs to a minimum.
Of course you'll have to manually install each copy, though. And train every user in its operation. And rely on them to let you know if there are any problems. And hope they won't turn off particular functions - or remove the whole package - if they think it's getting in their way. The software may be free, but it could still have some major costs attached.
If you have plenty of systems to protect - 10 or more, say - it could make more sense to choose a business antivirus solution, instead. This will typically have extra functionality (firewall, browsing protection), be easier to deploy over your network and you'll be able to manage your entire setup from a central location, enforcing your preferred settings, viewing detailed reports, sometimes even remotely accessing company PCs to help troubleshoot any problems.
Best of all, the price per installation can sometimes be cheaper than even our top recommended best home antivirus packages. So, what's on offer? We checked out eight of the best business antivirus tools around to find out. All of them offer discounts if you buy a two or three-year package, so we ordered them by their 10 PC, two-year package prices to make things fair. You can of course choose whichever package suits your needs best when buying.
1. Avast! Endpoint Protection
£240/US$370/AU$450 - 10 PCs, 2 years
If avast! Endpoint Protection looks cheap, that's because it's the most basic business product the company offers: there's core antivirus, browsing protection and remote management only. That may well be enough, though, and even if it isn't, jumping up to the Endpoint Plus edition will get you a firewall and spam filter while still remaining cheaper than most of the competition.
Whatever you choose, you get full control over how it's implemented. You can install a few programs and maintain them individually - installing avast!'s Small Office Administration tool provides simple web-based remote management, or using the high-end Enterprise Administration tool gets you automatic discovery and deployment of the program, detailed control of user access rights, strong support for mobile devices (they're automatically updated whenever they connect to the network) and more.
The antivirus protection you get is generally rated as mid-range by independent testing, with AV-Comparatives scoring Avast's engine at 98.9% in its March-June 2013 Real World Protection report, for instance, while the very top packages scored 99.9%. And if you need value for money then avast! Endpoint Protection could be a great choice.
2. AVG AntiVirus Business Edition 2013
£350/US$450/AU$575 - 10 PCs, 2 years
AVG is perhaps best known for its free security software, but the company also has some surprisingly feature-packed business tools. The AVG AntiVirus Business Edition 2013 includes a firewall, for instance. You also get identity theft protection, and it blocks malicious websites. There's the core antivirus engine, too, so you can manage the entire setup from AVG Remote Administration 2013, and AVG offers free phone support should you need it (Monday to Friday, anyway).
Despite all this functionality, AVG AntiVirus Business Edition 2013 is very easy to use. Its features are sensibly organised via a clean and simple interface (the same as AVG's consumer products), but for the most part you won't need to browse them at all: you can just install the program and forget it.
There are still issues here. AVG's antivirus engine is generally ranked at the lower end of the scale by independent testing labs, for instance, and the price is similarly mid-range. AntiVirus Business Edition 2013 is worth a look if you're an AVG fan, but others will probably do better elsewhere.