Microsoft Security Essentials
Oct 21, 2013 / 5:00 am
I’ve used and recommended Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus for years, but now it seems that MSE has been overtaken by third-party antivirus products. And apparently Microsoft doesn’t care.
Microsoft Security Essentials is a free antivirus software from Microsoft. It was introduced late in 2008 and received certification from AV-Test (http://www.av-test.org/en/home/) in 2009. Many of us liked MSE because it didn’t hog resources, it was effective, and it was not intrusive. I used it on test and production machines here, and installed it for quite a few customers. I recommended it in several columns. It was an excellent product.
Microsoft eventually dedicated fewer resources to improving the product, or even keeping up. MSE lost its certification and recently achieved the lowest possible score in the AV-Test results. In the last few weeks Microsoft stated (http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/security/384394/microsoft-security-essentials-is-designed-to-be-bottom-of-the-antivirus-rankings) that MSE provides “good baseline” protection, but that third-party antivirus products are stronger. In light of all that, I just can’t continue to recommend it to regular computer users.
Note: Microsoft seems to be backing off the “designed to be baseline” comments. Their website now says they’re “fully committed to protecting our consumer and business customers from malware.” Read more here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/mmpc/archive/2013/10/09/our-commitment-to-microsoft-antimalware.aspx. But I still can’t recommend MSE for the average home user.
What’s a good alternative?
I think the best free antivirus product available right now is Avast! Free (http://www.avast.com/index). But you have to be careful installing and upgrading it. Avast! Free constantly tries to get you to install the paid version and it tries with all its might to get you to install the Google Chrome browser if you don’t already have it. I just hate it when good products mess around with people that way. But it IS free and they DO have a right to encourage you to go for the more robust paid version. Just say no.
What do I need to do?
If you ever decide to change your antivirus protection, no matter what product you are ditching and no matter what product you are going to use, you MUST completely uninstall your current antivirus program before you install another one. If you don’t do that you will break your computer.
Once you have completely removed MSE (or whatever you’ve been using) you can install Avast! Free. As you install it, always choose the free version and always choose Custom Install. Decline any unwanted products and features by clearing the check boxes for those products and features. You have to decline Chrome several times if you don’t want it.
After you’ve installed your antivirus program, check the settings. I recommend a full scan daily, and I recommend turning on the Real Time Protection. Most AV programs come configured to turn on Real Time Protection but not to do a full scan daily. Be safe and make sure that’s turned on. I have visited new customers who have never run a scan because they thought it was “automatic.” It IS automatic if you set it up!
Anything else I need to know?
Yes. As I’ve mentioned many times before, no matter what antivirus/antimalware program you use, you should supplement it with another, different kind of program to provide another layer of protection. SuperAntiSpyware (SuperAntiSpyware http://superantispyware.com/) or Malwarebytes (http://malwarebytes.org) are good. Both are free, and Malwarebytes has a paid version (http://bit.ly/mikeslink) with more features. Pick one or the other, and run the program once a week or so. These programs look for and remove different things than your antivirus program. Stay safe!
Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!
Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].
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Read more Computers articles
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- Microsoft Security Essentials Oct 21
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