Microsoft Security Essentials 2

Category: Security

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is a free anti-malware program. It protects against viruses, spyware, rootkits, and even brand-new threats reported in real-time by computers running all over the world. Can MSE replace your existing Internet security software? Take a look at the features in MSE Version 2, and see if it's right for you...

What's New in MSE2?

MSE is a free all-in-one Internet security tool you can download from Microsoft. Installation takes about four minutes, a bit long compared to some competing programs but not bad for a free program. During installation you will have the options to enable Windows Firewall, use a third-party firewall, or skip firewall protection (bad idea). You can also opt in or stay out of Microsoft SpyNet, the real-time malware information database mentioned above.

SpyNet consists of computers running Microsoft operating systems and MSE. When threats are found on member computers, anonymous information about the threat, its origin, the user's response to it, and the result of the attempted countermeasure are reported to Microsoft. This data helps develop countermeasures to new threats as they appear, and the results benefit all SpyNet members. Microsoft promises to keep your data private, but you don't have to opt into SpyNet if you don't believe it.

MSE also uses the standard malware-signature database method of detecting viruses and spyware. It can be set to download updated signature databases automatically or manually. MSE 2 introduces integration with Internet Explorer to scan files as they are downloaded through that browser (no such cooperation with Firefox or other browsers, unfortunately). Windows Vista and Windows 7 users can scan their network resources for malware using MSE 2.
Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0

The Settings tab in MSE 2's interface lets you do a Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan in which you specify what drive(s), folder(s), and file(s) should be scanned. There are also tabs for viewing History logs of detected threats; setting Advanced options such as scanning of archived files; creating a System Restore Point; and letting all users of a machine view the History logs.

MSE Performance and Certification

The performance of your computer will decrease a bit with MSE 2 running, as it will with any extra load imposed by security software. Expect boot-up and shutdown to take a few seconds longer. Decoding of media files will also slow about 3 per cent, and other processor-intensive operations may be a bit more sluggish. MSE 2 is about in the middle on resource consumption as anti-malware programs go., a certification lab for anti-malware programs, gave MSE V1 a test run in the second quarter of 2010, but has not tested MSE V2. In that test, MSE on Windows 7 earned certification with a 15 out of 18 score. It achieved 4 out of 6 on Protection, 4.5 out of 5 in Repair, and 5.5 out of 6 in Usability. A minimum score of 12 is required for certification. MSE V1 on Windows XP did not earn the AV-Test certification, but it did get an Advanced+ certification from, another independent testing lab.

Bottom line: MSE 2 is a worthwhile contribution to the anti-malware landscape. Indications from my own testing on Windows XP and Windows 7 PCs, as well as feedback from my network of Very Smart Friends, tell me that it provides excellent protection, and can be relied upon as an alternative to the competing free and paid security suites.

UPDATE: SEE Microsoft Security Essentials: EPIC FAIL

What's your experience with MSE? Will you dump Norton or McAfee and install MSE2? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Microsoft Security Essentials 2"

(See all 32 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

20 Jan 2011

MSE seems good - picked up an annoying trojan but it takes so long. It took 1h 45 mins to scan my 9.83GB used space c drive.
Also updates take forever.

Posted by:

20 Jan 2011

I have been using since the day I had installed windows 7 on three machines. It is very good and I have not faced any problem so far. It detects virus and removes well.

Posted by:

20 Jan 2011

I have been using MSE in Windows 7 and have not experienced problems whatsoever. I dumped ever since ESE Smart Security for good.

Posted by:

20 Jan 2011

I have installed MSE on many client computers over the past year and love it. It's simple, uses low resources and just works. MS finally did something right. Hope they keep it up.

Posted by:

20 Jan 2011

Hello,can I use MSE2 and McAfee security center

together on a windows 7 OS 64 bit ?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I would not recommend using both. It's redundant, and possibly a source of problems.

Posted by:

Joe Marinan
20 Jan 2011

Replaced AVG with MSE-2 2 months ago, and am well satisfied. One problem despite checking everything going in or out, it insists on a weekly scan, which cannot be ignored or postponed. Monthly would be fine with me.

Posted by:

20 Jan 2011

I've been using MSE for about on my XP for about six months now. Prior to that I was using AVG, Spybot Search and Destroy, and Malwarebyte. I've since removed all those and find MSE does a better job than all of them combined.

The only downside is when MSE performs its automatic updates which is usually twice a day. Essentially, I have to wait till it's completed before I can perform any tasks, be it surfing the net, word-processing, etc. These updates will take anywhere from just a few minutes upwards to 45 minutes. Very frustrating when you're in the midst of a big project.

But I feel secure with MSE. And that makes it worth the while.

Posted by:

21 Jan 2011

I use MSE and like it. There's no conflict with my other anti-malware apps and if my system slowed down I never payed that much attention.

Everybody is in such a hurry nowadays, and the average attention span is just about as long as a broadcast tv commercial.

Posted by:

25 Jan 2011

I use MSE since 9/2010 with no problems. I use the 64bit version on my Win7 Ultimate and the 32 bit version on my XP Professional computers.
It will be hard for me to give up the speed MSE has allowed me in all operations and in scan speed. I gave up Norton for Panda (when it was faster) and I gave up Panda for MSE and LOVE IT.
I don't use IE at all. The only time I get crashes was when I used IE so it will be hard for me to go to MSE2.
I use MSE in conjuction with Malwarebytes Antimalware.

Posted by:

paul redfern
26 Jan 2011

ive tried several anti virus etc but find that my NOD32 is the best of all of them. never a single prob of any kind in over 3 yrs now. ill keep my NOD32

Posted by:

26 Jan 2011

I have been using Trend Micro on XP for a number of years and find it to be an excellent protection.

Posted by:

26 Jan 2011

I've been using MSE on several machines and am very pleased. It seems to use a lot of CPU cycles for a minute or so after boot up. After that I don't notice a significant performance hit. In this regard, it is much better than my previous antivirus program, Sunbelt Software's Vipre. Vipre brought my old Vista laptop to its knees. The thing I don't like about it is that I have been unable to find any scan log. The history shows any detected items, but I can't find any record of negative scans.

BTW, Bob says it is "in the middle" in terms of resource usage. What anti-malware programs are best in resource usage?

Posted by:

26 Jan 2011

Wikipedia says "XP's Windows Firewall cannot block outbound connections; it is only capable of blocking inbound ones."
So for proper protection, I need a third-party firewall in addition to MSE. At that point I may as well have a suite like Comodo Internet Security.
For those running Windows XP what firewall do you suggest?

Posted by:

26 Jan 2011

MSE is simply the best freeware available!

Posted by:

26 Jan 2011

I used the AVG free edition successfully for many years but recently changed to MSE. Very impressed - its completely unintrusive, seems to consume less resources than AVG and gives 100% protection (well at least I've never had a virus get through). Can't be accidentally switched off either. Only gripe is that a scan takes a long time.

can't accidentally be switched off.

Posted by:

27 Jan 2011

"For those running Windows XP what firewall do you suggest?"

I have used the free version of Zone Alarm
[] since visiting ShieldsUp! [] back a few years ago.
Works well for me.

Posted by:

Nancy Haley
27 Jan 2011

I used MSE on 2 computers, with the firewall enabled, did all the automatic updates, daily scans and still wound up getting viruses on both. The first one was when I was asked to update to a new version, that one fried my hard drive. The second one took out all internet connections and locked up the keyboard. I don't open mail with attachments or from unknowns, have my browser security set high so I'm pretty sure I picked them up on Facebook. I'm almost scared to even get on the net after the repair bill. MSE2? Have to think hard about using it.

Posted by:

08 Feb 2011

I started using MSE 1 as it is fast! But I have a problem with
MSE 2 as it doesn't always startup each time I logon!
I have tried all the so-called fixes but to no avail. I may have to ditch this program if a suitable answer doesn't come from Microsoft!
What has changed in this version?
Vista 32 home premium.

Posted by:

R. Hill
13 Feb 2011

I have used McAfee since 2004. As time went by, my computer got slower; McAfee's scans got slower; everything got slower. I'm running Windows XP Home, IE8. Opening my home page used to take less than a second. After going with McAfee, it would take 10 seconds or more for IE to open to my homepage. After removing McAfee from my computer and installing MSE, the opening time is back to under a second again. Everything is opening at 'lightning-fast' speeds. And MSE is free. Wish I'd switched sooner.

Posted by:

Bob Greene
26 May 2011


Poster "Chris" on January 19, 2011, comments accurately-- Microsoft Security Essentials 2 is part of the old Big Brother spyware system Microsoft once foisted on users as "Windows Genuine Advantage".

To install and get the dubious benefit of MSSE2, Microsoft insists on running a check of your system for anything to which it might object (right or wrong, it is Microsoft's call).

Most users passively submit to this behavior, but they need not. Instead, skip MSSE2, as simply another intrusive Microsoft behavior with its paying beta testers (its customers).

You may be better off, for doing so. Only a few months ago, computer industry writer Fred Langa found MSSE2 notably deficient in failing to detect and remove a serious threat MSSE2 should have addressed easily.

The fact MSSE2 did not is another indication its primary purpose is to help police the desktops of law-abiding, ordinary consumers. Meanwhile, copies of Windows 7 are available across the globe, produced and distributed by networks of professional thieves. Guess which group suffers the burden of Microsoft's "anti-piracy" efforts?

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