Windows Foundation

Top Third-Party Tools

Sysadmins can't live by Windows 2000 alone. Check out these handy antivirus protection and backup/restore programs that can help you get through the day.

As high-priced management consultants like to say (and to charge you for saying it), there comes a time when you have to think outside the box. In this case, I'm referring specifically to Windows 2000 and its native toolset. Now that you've worked with Win2K for some time, you've probably discovered its strengths and weaknesses. I want to share my discoveries with you this month as I present a couple of third-party tools that are a necessary part of your Win2K installation.

Basically, I'm presenting two products that perform functions not included in Win2K or functions that Win2K doesn't perform as well—namely, virus protection and backup and restore.

Virus Protection
With the spread of the Sircam and Code Red viruses, Win2K novices and gurus learned something new about virus protection. As an MCSE consultant, I've worked with several virus-detection applications and have settled on Trend Micro's OfficeScan as my top choice. I've found that OfficeScan is a simple install, and it operates in a cohesive client/server manner. That is, both the server and client computers are protected as a whole system (you don't install the client-side components separate from the server-side protection).

OfficeScan is a bundle of Trend Micro products that's priced significantly lower than if you purchased these components individually. Another point is the integrated installation routine that basically works well. But what really stand out for me are the OfficeScan management tools and the use of the logon script to update the network clients at each logon.

For managing the basic input/output scanning operation, you use the OfficeScan Management Console (see Figure 1).

OfficeScan Workstation Admin
Figure 1. The Workstation Administration view allows you to assess the current virus protection status of network clients. (Click image to view larger version.)

Note that the Workstation Administration view allows you to configure the network clients with options on the left side, including the ability to force a scan at the workstation with the "Scan Now" button. The Server Administration view (Figure 2) lets allows you to observe and configure various server-side options.

OfficeScan Server Administration
Figure 2. The Server Administration view gives you the opportunity to observe and configure various server-side options. (Click image to view larger version.)

Another critical configuration screen with OfficeScan is the Update and Upgrade screen (Figure 3). You'll note that important update information is displayed, allowing you to access how current the virus protection on your network is.

OfficeScan Update/Upgrade
Figure 3. You can access update information via the Update and Upgrade screen, which allows you to see how current your network virus protection is. (Click image to view larger version.)

Best Practice: I wasn't entirely clear how to use the update OfficeScan via the Internet. That is to say, I was initially baffled by the auto-update if you add ISA Server 2000 to the picture, which is a typical setup when you're working with Small Business Server 2000 and BackOffice Server 2000. It was clear enough that you'd click the Auto Update button under the Update and Upgrade listing on the left side of the OfficeScan Management Console; but instead of putting in the server name (e.g. NHM1) or the server's IP address (either internal or external) in the HTTP Proxy field, I had to manually type localhost. This undocumented step is shown in Figure 4.

OfficeScan Proxy Config
Figure 4. Configuring the Internet Proxy for Trend's OfficeScan. (Click image to view larger version.)

And then there's the ScanMail component of OfficeScan (Figure 5), which provides both scheduled and real-time scans against Exchange 2000 Server-based e-mails. While I don't want to distract you by going into excruciating detail here, ScanMail can be richly configured (e.g. attachment blocking).

OfficeScan ScanMail for Exchange
Figure 5. The ScanMail component provides scheduled and real-time scans against Exchange 2000 Server-based e-mails. (Click image to view larger version.)

Best Practice: Assuming you run Exchange 2000 Server, which is a reasonably safe bet for many MCSEs, the following applies to you: Trend and other virus-detection application vendors are eagerly awaiting the release of Exchange 2000 Server Service Pack 1 (SP1). Why? Because Exchange 2000 SP1 corrects a few things in the application programming interface (API) that allow third-party virus-protection programs to scan incoming and outgoing e-mail in real time. Note that these Exchange 2000 Server virus-detection applications can already perform scheduled scans against the storage group (where the e-mail is stored), just not in real time. This will be fixed in SP1. Note that, if you used Trend Micro's OfficeScan 5.0 for Small Business Server 2000, you need to download ScanMail version 5.1 to correctly interact with the new Exchange 2000 Server service pack.

Oh, and I must mention that Trend Micro's products, more than any other virus-detection application I've used, is minimally invasive. Compare that to the Symantec's Norton anti-virus offering. It has been my experience that the Norton virus-detection application likes to come to dinner and never leave—that is, once Norton is installed on a Win2K system, it's amazingly difficult to remove it, and even then some applications get upset along the way. Trend Micro's products such as OfficeScan are good neighbors on a Win2K box.

Backup and Restore
Close to or equal in importance to virus detection is backup and restore. The question is: Should you use improved native Win2K backup application in lieu of a third-party solution? I respectively submit that no, the native application likely won't meet your mission-critical backup and restore needs in the long run. I say this for a couple of reasons:

  • Application agents—Third-party backup applications truly differentiate themselves by adding application agents. That is, the native Win2K tape backup application doesn't have agents for SQL Server and, arguably, the Exchange agent is a tad feature-light.
  • Logs and reporting—Maybe I'm just in a fussy mood, but the darn reporting in the native Win2K backup application is inconclusive. It doesn't report "success" or "failure." Rather, the logs are detailed reports of backup activity and require a fair amount of study to understand them. A full featured backup program's strengths are often in the numerous reporting functions it provides.

So my vote for an acceptable third-party tape backup program in the world of Windows 2000? Backup Exec from Veritas gets the nod. Backup Exec uses a console (see Figure 6) to allow you to select different tape backup and restore-related tasks. The current version for Win2K is version 8.6.

Backup Exec
Figure 6. Backup Exec is a reliable program, which uses a console that allows you to select different tape backup and restore-related tasks. (Click image to view larger version.)

Best Practice: I've received e-mails from MCSEs who have asked how can they take their careers to the next level, beyond the Win2K administration skills taught in this column. My response is "look above." Suppose you're an MCSE with Win2K administration skills (along with the majority of Win2K MCSEs).

Additional Info

Trend Micro OfficeScan, $300 for 25 users
Trend Micro

Backup Exec, $795
Veritas Software

How do you distinguish yourself and increase your compensation at the same time? Simple—choose a niche that's in high demand. Both Trend and Veritas have extensive classes you can take to master the lucrative intricacies of virus protection and disaster recovery (which includes backup and restore).

So there you have it—a couple of third-party tools I consider mandatory for any Win2K site. Don't get caught without some form of virus protection and backup routine-or ye shall suffer the consequences!

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