Microsoft Security Essentials
I just read something about a new security tool from Microsoft, that's supposed to be better than Windows Defender, which I use now. What is your recommendation?
What Is Microsoft Security Essentials?
You are correct, Windows Defender has been superseded by another free Microsoft utility. On September 1, 2009, Microsoft released Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). It protects against a broader spectrum of malware than Defender does, including viruses, rootkits, and trojans as well as spyware.
Windows Defender detects and removes spyware only. It won't protect your computer from other malicious software, such as viruses, worms, and Trojans. The new Microsoft Security Essentials, on the other hand, is a comprehensive anti-malware solution. MSE is meant to replace both your existing anti-spyware and anti-virus programs.
If you're running Windows Defender, you don't actually have to uninstall it. MSE is smart enough to detect and disable Windows Defender. But, if you are currently using some other anti-spyware program such as Malware Bytes Anti-Malware, SpyBot S&D or Ad-Aware, OR an anti-virus program such as Norton, McAfee, AVG or Avira, then you SHOULD disable or uninstall them before installing MSE. Anti-malware programs tend to fight with each other, if you have more than one active.
How Good is MSE?
Reviews have been positive, for the most part. A Washington Post review found that Microsoft Security Essentials is light on system resources, consuming only 4 MB of RAM, and fast. A "quick scan" took only 10 minutes and a full system scan only 45 under Windows 7. PCWorld lauded MSE's clean, straightforward user interface and small installation footprint.
MSE found 89 per cent of malware samples deliberately installed on a test computer, but only 30 per cent of keyloggers - programs that record everything you type and can capture passwords for bad guys. MSE found only 67 per cent of rootkits. Alarmingly, these results are considered "average" for the anti-malware industry.
Should You Install MSE?
It's fair to say that for most users, Microsoft Security Essentials is an acceptable alternative to other free security products on the market, and certainly preferable to pricey commercial products. From a user standpoint, it's certainly nice to have one program that provides comprehensive security protection, eliminating the confusion between anti-spyware and anti-virus tools.
But does MSE provide the best possible protection? Perhaps not. If you read the reports at AV Comparatives you'll see how various security programs compare in terms of detection rates. Many of them score in the high 90's for detecting viruses and malware. AV Comparatives has not yet tested MSE, so this may not be a true apples-to-apples comparison. Even so, I think it's fair to cut MSE a little slack, since it's only been out for about a month. Microsoft always did a good job of updating Windows Defender, so I think we can expect that MSE will get better over time as well.
Here's my recommendation...
If you currently have a commercial anti-virus program, and you'd rather not be paying for security, dump what you have and give Microsoft Security Essentials a try. If you already have a free anti-virus program that you're happy with, AND good anti-spyware protection, stick with it for now. You may also want to check out my list of Free Anti-Virus Programs.
UPDATE: SEE Microsoft Security Essentials: EPIC FAIL
Have you tried Microsoft Security Essentials? Post your comment or question about MSE below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 23 Oct 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Microsoft Security Essentials (Posted: 23 Oct 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved