Aardvark Computer Repair

Microsoft Security Essentials

The successor to Microsoft Live OneCare, Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) takes a different approach to securing your computer. The program is free with core security features intact, but abandons the additional heft of a firewall, performance tuning, and backup and restore options.

Under a clean and uncluttered interface, MSE wraps antivirus and antispyware engines, rootkit protection, and real-time detection courtesy of Microsoft SpyNet, the unfortunately named cloud-based service that compares file behavior across computers.

There are four tabs, each with a concise, understandable label: Home, Update, History, and Settings. From Home you can run a Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan, and a link at the bottom of the pane lets you change the scheduled scan.

In the Settings window you can schedule scans, toggle default actions, adjust real-time protection settings, and create whitelists. An Advanced option here is still fairly basic, allowing you to set MSE to scan archives, removable drives, create a system restore point, or allow all users to view the History tab.

The install is quick and easy, with three versions available for download. One is for 32-bit XP systems, the others are separate 32- and 64-bit releases for Vista and Windows 7. Clocking at just over 4MB, it takes less than a minute to download over a broadband connection.

Once installed it will automatically update to new versions as they come out, and then regularly download updated signature files as they become available from Microsoft Update. When you're up and running, MSE will download the most recent set of signatures and scan your PC for the first time.

If a new piece of malware appears on the net, and if it's detected by MSE, then it'll report back to Microsoft, and the information used to help build a signature file that can be delivered to every MSE install. MSE turns every PC that runs it into part of a massive honeypot, making MSE not just an anti-malware tool, but also an early-warning system for all Internet-connected Windows PCs.

Microsoft really has stepped up to the mark here, providing Windows PCs with the essential security tools they need. MSE is one of the simplest and easiest to use anti-malware tools around. It's quick, unobtrusive and works without slowing your PC down.

Malware is caught quickly, and the default actions work well for most users. It's a small download, and keeps itself up to date, and above all, it's free - with no need to register or re-register. There really isn't much to dislike here, as MSE does what it says, raising the bar for all the other anti-malware vendors out there.

Our one big caveat is the default time for scheduled complete system scans. Once a week at a time a PC is likely to be off is not good enough, by a long way. If you're not running anti-virus software, you really have no excuse. MSE is free, simple to use- and has been tested by independent anti-malware certification bodies.

It may not have all the features of other security suites out there, but that's really not that important, especially when widespread use of MSE should help make it a safer internet for everyone.

Microsoft Security Essentials  Download Now.

Some Screenshots