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Review of Microsoft Security Essentials

written by: Nicholas•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 3/4/2010

Looking for a free antivirus software? Microsoft Security Essentials just may be right for you. Aside from being a basic virus scanner, Security Essentials also offers spyware/malware protection and live system security. But how good is Microsoft Security Essentials? Read the review...

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    Compatability

    Rating Average

    operating system compatible 

    There is really nothing negative that can be said in this Microsoft Security Essentials review as far as compatibility. Security Essentials, which you can download for free, is available in several different formats. Not only is it compatible with Microsoft's latest operating system Windows 7, but Vista and XP as well. For Windows 7 and Windows Vista, Security Essentials is available for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. For Windows XP, it is available in 32-bit. It is also comes standard in over 20 different languages, making it a good free choice for just about everyone.

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    Features

    Rating Average

    Microsoft brands Security Essentials as an antivirus software as well as a spyware/malware remover. This really is a decent deal, considering Security Essentials is completely free. However, just about every antivirus security suite not has antivirus + spyware/malware protection. So this is not some extraodinary feature. Aside from being a basic malware scanner, Security Essentials offers live protection as well. This is an extremely nice feature to have in a free software. But again, just about every security software these days offers live protection. So, nothing too special.

    Most premium security software offers several more options than Microsoft Security Essentials.

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    Updates

    Rating Average

    security essentials update Being security software from Microsoft, one could only wonder on how often Microsoft would actually release virus updates and definitions. However, Microsoft Security Essentials actually does a pretty good job. It's not uncommon to receive new virus definitions from Microsoft a couple of times a week.

    As far as the update process, it's just as smooth as doing a Windows Update. Security Essentials basically displays a reminder message telling you that there are new updates available. From there, you can choose to download updates immediately, or get them later. If you want to manually check for updates, you can do that from the Security Essentials Update tab.

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    Efficiency

    Rating Average

    Microsoft Security Essentials does a great job at not slowing down computer performance. The application itself is lightweight, yet fully functional. When not in use, Security Essentials runs quietly in the background, rarely displaying any unneeded notifications. Occasionally, Security Essentials may remind you to do a scan, if it's been a while since your last one.

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    Effectiveness

    Rating Average

    Microsoft Security Essentials is good at detecting malicious threats. Not great, but good. Upon actual testing and trying to download a questionable file, Microsoft Security Essentials immediately recognized the file as a virus, during download. After the download was complete, Security Essentials promptly displayed a pop up, stating that the file was recognized as a virus and could potentially harm the computer. From there, it gives you options to whether or not you want to delete the file.

    Security Essentials is not great because it doesn't catch everything. For example, Super Anti Spyware caught several cookies that Microsoft Security Essentials failed to recognize. Cookies are not necessarily malicious software. But, Security Essentials does claim to be a spyware/adware remover as well, in which it should have picked them up.

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    Overall Rating

    Rating Average

    Microsoft Security Essentials is a good program. It's best feature is efficiency. It runs very smoothly in Windows, and does not slow down performance even slightly. For a free application, Security Essentials really is a good choice. If you want full protection for free, it's recommended that you download a free spyware/adaware/malware program as well.

    Overall Microsoft Security Essentials Review: Recommended

    Want to learn about security for Mac computers? Check out this article.