Review: HFNetChkPro

Shavlik's Windows-only offering was fast and accurate in eWEEK Labs' tests.

HFNetChk Pro

Shavliks tight relationship with Microsoft shows: Its agentless HFNetChkPro effectively patches every major and most minor Microsoft products, and the product is effectively integrated with Microsofts Active Directory. HFNetChkPros user interface neatly shows IT managers what needs to be done.
















  • PRO: Comprehensive Microsoft product coverage; large user base.
  • CON: Non-Microsoft products are pretty much ignored.

For 100 seats (workstations or servers), HFNetChkPro costs $23.75 per seat for an annual subscription; for 1,000 seats, $16.69 per seat; for 2,500 seats, $13.69 per seat.

Shavliks Windows-only offering—which is closely related to the no-cost HFNetChk that Shavlik developed for Microsoft and that Microsoft distributes on its Web site—was fast and accurate in eWEEK Labs tests. In contrast to the free version, HFNetChkPro has a GUI and a number of features that make it much more useful to enterprise system administrators.

HFNetChkPro 4.0 was released in March; eWEEK Labs tested a point release update ( that shipped late last month. For 100 seats (workstations or servers), HFNetChkPro costs $23.75 per seat. The price for 1,000 seats is $16.69 per seat and for 2,500 seats is $13.69 per seat. The maintenance fee is 25 percent of the list price.

Within moments after installation of HFNetChkPro, we were able to scan single machines, domains or the entire network. (We recommend against this last option, however, because, under most circumstances, it places too big a burden on network bandwidth.) We scanned test machines using the quick and full-scan methods and were able to see and use the results within minutes.

HFNetChkPro does not use agents, a model that reduces the amount of time it takes to install the product and that mitigates ongoing management concerns. However, it also makes the product unsuitable in environments where heightened security calls for encrypted communication between the agent and the central management console. The same holds true for the Ecora system.

HFNetChkPro has a clear, easy-to-use interface, and the product was easy to administer during tests. We were able to easily navigate the Microsoft-maintained XML database of service packs and hot fixes for Windows operating systems and the entire family of Microsoft applications, including Internet Information Services, SQL Server and Exchange Server.

With HFNetChkPro, as with the Ecora and St. Bernard systems, we simply right-clicked on a machine icon from the central management console to generate a patch deployment job. HFNetChkPro made it easy to see what patches remained to be installed. For example, we could sort patches by the importance assigned by Microsoft, which helped to prioritize research, testing and deployment of patches. This explicit sorting was something we saw only in HFNetChkPro.

As mentioned earlier, we were concerned about the amount of bandwidth consumed during initial device discovery, but HFNetChkPro does provide several bandwidth-limiting controls. For example, we were able to throttle back a scan we regularly conducted to check for machines that were out of compliance with our standard template.

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Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be contacted at