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Microsoft Security Essentials Review



Product: Microsoft Security Essentials
Price: $0
Company Info: Microsoft - www.microsoft.com
Editor Rating:

 

Microsoft Security Essentials Review -  Essential Improvement on Security Software

Virus, spyware, and malware protection are an absolute must for any computer user, but there are very few individuals willing to pay the outrageous prices some companies seem to charge for services like these. While there are a number of different free solutions available today, one that comes from a trusted name like Microsoft is certainly making waves. Called Microsoft Security Essentials, this programs is touted as "high-quality, hassle-free antivirus protection for your home PC" according to the company.

The company's marketing materials claim that you get real-time protection for any home PC, and that includes code to guard against viruses, spyware, and any other malicious software applications floating around these days. It's free for all Windows users, and according to Windows, it's really easy to install and keep updated. Using a simple "green-means-go" type system, if you see a green checkmark on the main interface, you're as secure as possible.

Microsoft also suggests that this utility runs "quietly and efficiently" in the background of your PC, which means you won't have to endure the downtime during scans as you might with other products. According to the company, features here include comprehensive malware protection, an easy download, auto updating, and a basic interface almost anyone can use.

Interface

The initial installation of this program is pretty fast, and most tests revealed that you can have it on your computer within just ten seconds depending on your internet speed. An update will automatically occur, but even after it does so, you'll be less than two minutes into the entire process.

After you create the settings you like on your computer, the program is designed to fade into the background of your day to day computing process, so it's distinctly possible that you won't notice it at all.

The interface itself is clean and easy to use. The program has just four tabs, and you'll know almost immediately what each of those four do. There's a home tab, one to update, one for the history of your scans, and one for settings. From the home tab, you can actually run the scan of your choice, and there are three main options to scanning. There's even a link at the bottom that allows you to change any scheduled scan settings you may have. Within the settings window, of course, you can access that same scan scheduler as well as toggle the default actions, change any real-time protection settings you have, and create a whitelist. There is also an advanced setting that allows you to create a system restore point and other functions.

The biggest feature of the interface, though, is its simplicity. A green means that you're fine, while a yellow means you should watch out, and a red means that you're in a more serious situation.

Performance

When you think about the performance of any program of this type, there are a couple of different areas you have to consider. First, you have to think about performance in terms of speed - both the speed of the scan and the speed of your computer during a given scan. In both of these categories, Microsoft Security Essentials performs well. The scan will likely take just five to ten minutes if you're doing a quick scan, but there are two other types of scans you can perform, both of which have the potential to run much longer. You may also choose between a full scan and a custom scan. The quicker scan takes a look at the commonly infected parts of any computer system. During the scan, the program uses quite a bit of RAM, which can make accessing other programs a bit slower, but it is certainly possible as long as you're willing to wait. There are other security applications that simply freeze up all of the resources on your machine during a scan, and this certainly isn't one of those.

The real key with any protection software, though, is how well it performs against threats to your machine, and Security Essentials seems to do a fairly good job of this. It tends to update its definition files three times a day, which means you're constantly installing the new information necessary on your machine to keep it safe. Most tests reveal fairly high detection rates, which is almost amazing for a free program.

Pros and Cons

+ Offers easy ways to simply set the program up and forget about it so you can put your own level of computer security on auto-pilot.

+ After installation, security updates and scans will begin automatically, which can be really helpful if you tend to forget to handle those tasks after you've installed a program like this one.

- The default settings on the program have the daily scan taking place at two a.m., and while this is certainly something that you can choose to reset, the simple fact is that most people don't have their PCs turned on at that time, so you will have to reset it to a more convenient time.

+/- Works with Windows XP/Vista/7

Summary

There aren't very many things about this program that you won't like, and in terms of actual protection, there's quite a bit to offer almost any user. While you'll probably have to tweak a few settings here and there to make it better suit your needs, it's easily one of the best free programs on the internet for Windows users.





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