Even an agent-based system still needs to evaluate data that the agent collects, which means that data must flow over the network at some point ó so it does need a certain amount of bandwidth. But even though some older agentless systems did consume significant bandwidth because they had to read entire copies of files across the network to check versions, more advanced agentless systems have overcome this shortcoming and now consume only moderate amounts of bandwidth.
Itís a trade-off: Whether agent-based or agentless, doing a thorough, accurate scan will require more bandwidth to complete as compared to a superficial scan, but which would you rather have?
Myth No. 4: Agent-based systems are faster.
You may hear that agentless systems scan each machine sequentially, which means it takes them longer to scan an entire network and limits their ability to patch for a critical vulnerability in a timely fashion ó as opposed to an agent-based system.
This argument is flawed on two fronts. For one, agentless systems typically use multi-threaded processes that enable them to scan multiple machines simultaneously. The real heavy lifting happens at the server, which has to examine all the gathered data.
In an agent-based scenario, if all agents are reporting in at once, you should ask whether that server can keep up. And in practice, itís not likely that the scanning tool will be the gating factor in how quickly you can get a patch out ó itís how quickly the third-party vendor makes the patch available.
Myth No. 5: Agent-based systems offer better coverage.
This is true to the extent that agent-based systems are better-suited for machines such as laptops that are often disconnected from the network. Itís also why most agentless patch system vendors also offer an agent-based option. Yet here again, thereís a tradeoff: For every laptop user who may benefit from an agent-based approach, you might have a desktop user who turns off the desktopís agent, or closes the port used to connect to it.
The truth is: Thereís a place for both agent-based and agentless patching technologies. In an ideal world, your vendor will offer both ó along with the sophisticated scanning technology that is at the heart of a quality patching solution.
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