Great value for money and plenty of improvements over the previous version
Agnitum’s Outpost Security Suite 2009 is the new version of what is effectively a low-cost alternative to similar products from household names such as Norton and McAfee.
It offers a comprehensive degree of security against typical threats and includes a firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam. You also get web control tools to protect against online threats.
Installation is straightforward and offers the option of advanced or standard control. Agnitum has been criticised in the past for making its interface overly confusing. It seems to have paid attention to much of the criticism though, since things are improved now.
A switch at the bottom left of the screen lets you alternate between ‘simple’ and ‘expert’ views; the former basically hides some of the more detailed options for tools such as the firewall and web control.
Regardless of which you choose, you’ll find options for adjusting settings are well controlled by an initial form that allows you to select from generic categories.
In the case of the firewall, for example, you can opt to Block Most, Allow Most, use the Rules Wizard or allow or block all. This way of setting things up is also used on the anti-malware and web control tools, making it easy to adjust the general security level.
For advanced users, there’s a wide array of settings for tweaking just about every activity, process, port or protocol active on your machine, with each offering a range of tabs to fine-tune the behaviour of each.
One problem we have with this approach is that there’s no real middle ground between the two, it would have been good to see a more straightforward way of performing common tasks such as opening ports for specific applications or tweaking specific program access.
Anti-virus tools are buried within the Anti-malware section along with spyware, which is a sensible idea when you consider that most users would prefer to perform a single scan or update for any of a general range of threats.
Unlike many packages of this type you’re also given access to an extensive array of information on exactly what threats were blocked or quarantined by the firewall or the various scans. Though this won’t appeal to everyone, it makes it easy to diagnose problems you think might have been caused by applications that have been inadvertently blocked or discover the source of threats that attack your computer.
Anti-spam is easy to use and customisable so you can help the software identify exactly what sorts of emails you want blocked, and you’re notified if websites you visit may contain potentially harmful materials and given the option to browse or not.
Most of these features are new or improved from previous versions, which shows just how far the suite has come over the past few years. In general it’s a very unobtrusive security suite, with the Entertainment Mode making sure your gaming isn’t interrupted by pop-up messages from the software.
When you take into account how cheap Outpost is compared to rival suites offering similar functionality, it’s an excellent way to secure your PC. Purchase direct from the Agnitum website and for £25 you get a one-year licence (this includes complete version updates) for one PC. A version for three PCs is £52, but unlike similar alternatives you get updates for two years instead of just one. All in all, it’s tremendous value.
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Pros: Comprehensive, customisable protection; detailed reports on all activities; unobtrusive; great value Cons: Some advanced settings tricky to manage; lacks extra features such as backup tools Overall: Outpost has improved its security suite considerably with the last couple of versions, with 2009 being the most streamlined and best value for money yet
$49.95 (£25 approx)
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