Anti-virus has always been a hot topic on the Forums here at We Got Served and while everyone has their personal preferences, the choices available for your server (assuming you have stepped past the arguments on whether your server and its precious data needs AV protection or not) have been limited to only a few vendors. The limitations have been both support for the OS environment (it is a server after all) and management through the Console.
Avast has been a long favourite here, being the first to market with a proper WHS product. However, their ongoing support has been questioned with the withdrawal of the Family Pack, and no support yet for their version 5 product on WHS.
McAfee has met mixed reactions and is only available on the HP systems. F-Secure has not really been pushing to increase their small following (I couldn’t locate their offering through their web site without a search).
While we wait for a fully functional WHS implementation based on ClamWin and the developing WHSClamAV Console Add-in from Al West, I thought I would take a look at ESET’s NOD32. They haven’t pushed WHS as a possible platform but I know that they have a lot of fans and a reputation for an efficient, low-impact AV engine.
Jim Clark put up a review of NOD32 just about a year ago and while he concluded it is a very capable product, Jim’s parting comments were the lack of Console support may put some potential users off. I thought it was time for another look and see if I could improve the manageability.
A search of the ESET web site, prompted by earlier searches on Google, brings up the Knowledgebase article on installing their Home Edition AV product on Windows Home Server. To quote the article:-
You can install ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4.0 Home Edition on your Windows Home Server PC using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). The installation process is slightly different from the Windows Vista or Windows XP process. Please follow the steps below to download and install your ESET NOD32 Antivirus on a computer running Windows Home Server:
The rest of the article goes through the process of downloading and installing the AV product on WHS. There is a VERY IMPORTANT NOTE that should be heeded. ESET have two product categories; Anti-Virus and Smart Security. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PUT THE SMART SECURITY PRODUCT ON A HEADLESS WHS! I was tempted to try (in the interests of science) but logic said it would be pointless. Clearly there is a firewall component in Smart Security which will lock out both RDP and Console and render the WHS useless and needing a reinstall. In any event, the Anti-Virus would be more than adequate for the WHS needs.
The other element of suspicion that lurked within me was whether NOD32 Home Edition would baulk at seeing a Windows Server 2003 OS and not install. No such issues arose and the installation was exactly as in their article and Jim’s review.
Having got the software installed, and there being a tentative nod (sorry, I couldn’t resist) at support via the knowledgebase, the next hurdle was how do you manage it.
Here is a piece of software clearly designed to interact and communicate through the desktop. Notifications are through screen pop-ups and the system tray icon.
The Knowledgebase gave no hints on what to do next and so I started to look at what options could be made available. Clearly we were not going to get status information posted through the Health icon (nice to see that in the WHSClamAV add-in now) and I would hope to avoid RDP’ing to the server for configuration changes. Here are some options I found to give a bit of WHS-like integration.
Management can be achieved fairly easily if you have the Advanced Admin Console add-in from Andreas M. You can create a Custom Link to the NOD32 GUI application. Install the AAC add-in if you haven’t already (installation just as with standard WHS add-ins) and then navigate to the AAC tab in the Console. Click on the small grey bar at the right end of the menu strip and click on Customize. Select Custom Shortcuts and click on Add Shortcut.
Browse through to “C:\Program Files\ESET\ESET NOD32 Antivirus\egui.exe” and click on OK. Give the Shortcut a meaningful name (like ‘ESET NOD32’) and you are done.
You can now bring up the NOD32 management screens through AAC by clicking over on the right-hand drop menu.