Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials

Editors' Rating:
4.5
Outstanding
Average User Rating:
4.0
out of 661 votes
See all user reviews

Quick Specs

Version:
1.0.1611.0
File Size:
10.58MB
Date Added:
September 29, 2009
Price:
Free
Operating Systems:
Windows XP/Vista/7
Total Downloads:
3,489,989
Downloads Last Week:
4,409
Product ranking:
Additional Requirements:
Not available

Editors' review

The successor to Microsoft Live OneCare, Security Essentials (full review here) takes a different approach to securing your computer. The program is free with core security features intact, but abandons the additional heft of a firewall, performance tuning, and backup and restore options. Under a clean and uncluttered interface, Security Essentials wraps antivirus and antispyware engines, rootkit protection, and real-time detection courtesy of Microsoft SpyNet, the unfortunately named cloud-based service that compares file behavior across computers.

There are four tabs, each with a concise, understandable label: Home, Update, History, and Settings. From Home you can run a Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan, and a link at the bottom of the pane lets you change the scheduled scan. In the Settings window you can schedule scans, toggle default actions, adjust real-time protection settings, and create whitelists. An Advanced option here is still fairly basic, allowing you to set Security Essentials to scan archives, removable drives, create a system restore point, or allow all users to view the History tab. Security Essentials uses labels imported from OneCare: green for all good, yellow for warning, and red for an at-risk situation.

Independent test numbers for Security Essentials weren't available at the time of writing, although OneCare scored high detection rates. On a real-world machine, the Quick Scan completed in less than 30 seconds. Benchmarking tests from CNET Labs reveal that Security Essentials actually makes starting up and shutting down faster, but the Full Scan is much slower than many competitors. RAM usage was not insignificant, with 85 to 90MB used during a full scan, but it felt lighter. Security Essentials is basically a good set-it-and-forget-it security program, but if you want more options, you should look elsewhere.

Publisher's Description

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All User Reviews
  • All Versions:

    4.0

    out of 661 votes

    • 5 star: 371
    • 4 star: 121
    • 3 star: 43
    • 2 star: 48
    • 1 star: 78
  • Current Version:

    4.2

    out of 276 votes

    • 5 star: 184
    • 4 star: 38
    • 3 star: 15
    • 2 star: 13
    • 1 star: 26
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

    Results 1-10 of 20

  • 2 stars

    "It worked for a while but now?"

    September 01, 2014   |   By juditte

    Version: Microsoft Security Essentials 4.3.216

    Pros

    Runs very quietly - no stress on system

    Cons

    No longer seems to provide the best security. I got hit by some small stuff it did not identify. Fortunately no serious trojans or the like. So I think it is no longer doing the job it did before.

    Summary

    A reasonable search showed that a lot of people are finding that MSE is no longer keeping up with the need. So the next question is go with what? The c*&p I got I used Malwaarebytes free to get rid of. Now of course it wants me to buy it - but is that the right choice? sigh.

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  • 1 stars

    "Worse than Worthless - It's a False Sense of Security"

    August 27, 2014   |   By j-a-lind

    Version: Microsoft Security Essentials 4.3.216

    Pros

    None -- ZERO!

    Cons

    Consistently ranked as the WORST AV software in effectiveness since 2012.
    In Feb 2014 tests by AV-Test, an independent AV testing and evaluation organization:
    Failed to detect 29% of zero-day attacks!!
    Failed to detect 20% of known widespread and prevalent malware!!

    Summary

    M$ Security Essentials may have had a strong beginning in 2009, but M$ has been grossly negligent in maintaining it, particularly in updating its ability to detect, prevent and clean up viruses, Trojans and worms. Its performance sank so low two years ago in 2012 that AV-Test, an independent AV testing and evaluation organization, REVOKED and REMOVED its certification of MSE. It has yet to be restored in the two years since then, in spite of repeated testing by AV-Test.

    MSE is the rock bottom worst AV software, paid or free, for WinXP, Vista or Win7. Note that MSE cannot be used in Win8. It was replaced by Windows Defender in Win8 (and Windows Defender only works in Window 8). Like MSE, it also ranks rock bottom among AV software. It's as bad if not worse than MSE.

    There are substantially more effective FREE AV solutions. Among them are Avast!, Avira, and AVG. All three consistently rank in the upper tier among free and paid AV software for effectiveness.

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  • 3 stars

    "better than nothing."

    August 02, 2014   |   By ChoiceVoice

    Version: Microsoft Security Essentials 4.3.216

    Pros

    -no false positives
    -fairly light on system
    -non intrusive
    -easy interface
    -does not identify competitors as malware
    -no bsod

    Cons

    -very poor detections/protection as testified by all independent testing laboratories (it is now only used as a bottom baseline to order all the better detectors/protectors).
    -not supported on windows xp (figure that out, all the other private antivirus companies support xp, but microsoft doesn't support its own operating system.
    -not for other os (mac or linux)

    Summary

    there is far better freeware out there.

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  • 1 stars

    "useless!!!"

    July 26, 2014   |   By lizb1972

    Version: Microsoft Security Essentials 4.3.216

    Pros

    it is free, that's all i can say about it.

    Cons

    i'm not a novice, or a reckless internet user, this didn't protect from viruses, trojans, worms, etc. sorry MS fanboys/girls, this just does not cut it. there are better free antivirus out there, like avira, avast, malwarebytes, etc.

    Summary

    i'm back to paying for norton 360, my pc is worth paying for real protection.

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  • 4 stars

    "Best when customized"

    July 06, 2014   |   By tomysshadow

    Version: Microsoft Security Essentials 4.3.216

    Pros

    Really good and thorough scanning, has actually protected me against various viruses, very few false positives, is included in Windows 8 as Windows Defender, realtime protection is not slow, does not return false positives, and is almost instant

    Cons

    Default settings are poor. Enable archive and disk drive searching. Lower CPU Usage if necessary.

    Summary

    Good after you tweak it correctly.

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  • 5 stars

    "Top notch software"

    May 13, 2014   |   By tarantino1983

    Version: Microsoft Security Essentials 4.3.216

    Pros

    Thorough scans.

    Cons

    I have not found anything negative.

    Summary

    This software works extremely well.

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  • 1 stars

    "False Sense of Security"

    April 18, 2014   |   By Krupotkin

    Version: Microsoft Security Essentials 4.3.216

    Pros

    None, really.

    Cons

    Microsoft Security Essentials offers only a false sense of security. It has been flunking independent tests for the past year. Rather than fix the problems, Microsoft has made excuses. First, it was: "These tests don't measure protection against realistic threats." Then, it was: "People don't seem to understand. Microsoft only provides baseline protection." Bottom line, in a recent test, this service finished dead last of those tested, missing 41% of threats. I just ran AVG Free and found that there were two Trojan Horses that MSE scans have been missing for God knows how long.

    Summary

    Get good third-party protection if you value your computer.

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  • 5 stars

    "PAYING FOR ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE IS LIKE BURNING MONEY"

    April 05, 2014   |   By eon17

    Version: Microsoft Security Essentials 4.3.216

    Pros

    It provides a decent security blanket over human error. The only software that tops this is malwarebytes. This is nice however because its FREE and does not practice in the arts of fear mongering like ALL of the paid for antivirus.

    Cons

    None. Honestly. It does what anti male-ware software is supposed to do. It provides a real time security blanket to assist you while your educating your self on how to not use the internet like a complete idiot. There is not one, and when i say one I literately mean there is not a single antivirus that you can pay for that will run better.

    Summary

    HEED MY ADVISE. THE PEOPLE WHO COMPLAIN ABOUT THIS SOFTWARE TITLE ARE THE SAME IDIOTS WHO FEEL ENTITLED TO ACT COMPLETELY RECKLESS ON THE INTERNET BECAUSE THEY JUST INSTALLED AN "ANTI-VIRUS" SOFTWARE TITLE. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "ANTI-VIRUS". IT IS 100% FEAR MONGERING MARKETING GENIUS BY THOSE WHO RELEASE THE PAID FOR TITLES. TO GIVE EVIDENCE LOOK UP THE REVIEWS ON ANY OF THE PAID FOR TITLES. THEY WILL BE EVEN WORSE THAN SOME OF THESE REVIEWS FOR A FREE... COMPLETELY FREE... WORKING... EFFECTIVE TITLE... WHEN PEOPLE BUY SOMETHING THAT IS MARKETED AS AN "ELECTRONIC DEFENSE BARRIER" THEY FEEL LIKE THEY ARE FREE TO ACT HOWEVER BIG OF A FOOL AS THEY WANT. THEN THEY REALIZE THAT THE SOFTWARE THEY PAID FOR IS COMPLETE GARBAGE. SO THEY GO BUY ANOTHER TITLE. RINSE AND REPEAT. FUN FACT FOR ANYONE WHO CARES. THE ONLY ANTIVIRUS... TRUE ANTIVIRUS.... IS EDUCATING YOURSELF BEYOND THE BASICS. IF THE PROSPECT OF NOT RUNNING ANTIVIRUS PROTECTION TO GUARD YOU ON THE JOURNEY TO YOU FAVORITE FACEBOOK GAME SENDS PEE RUNNING DOWN YOUR LEG YOU ARE DOING NOTHING BUT MAKING YOURSELF STUPID. YOUR STAYING NAIVE. ALL OF WHICH IS IN COMPLETE VAIN. LIKE I SAID, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ANTI-VIRUS. IF THERE WAS, THERE WOULD NOT BE 20 TITLES TO CHOOSE FROM AT YOUR LOCAL OVERPRICED RETAIL TECH BIG BOX STORE. DO YOUR SELF A FAVOR AND WAKE THE HELL UP. EDUCATE YOURSELF. EVOLVE. THIS COMPUTER STUFF.. ITS NOTHING TO BE SCARED OF. SHOW SOME DIGNITY. LEARN FROM YOUR TRIALS AND ERRORS. STOP BEING SUCH CONSUMERS IN A MARKET YOUR NO NOTHING ABOUT. YOUR GOING TO GET BURNED AND YOU WONT EVEN KNOW ITS HAPPENING.

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  • 1 stars

    "going out of business"

    April 01, 2014   |   By njbrit

    Version: Microsoft Security Essentials 4.3.216

    Pros

    was useful, fairly, in the past, I think

    Cons

    i got a notice that in the next two weeks the program would be deactivated for windows XP but if I spent approximately $800 on upgrades to my apps I could keep it. Oh boy, does that sound like a bargain

    Summary

    even mcafee is cheaper!

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  • 3 stars

    "Pretty good software."

    March 30, 2014   |   By Sue Geek

    Version: Microsoft Security Essentials 4.3.216

    Pros

    It's free, works, and doesn't contain Malware, Crapware, or Bloat ware.

    Cons

    None that I know of.....Yet!

    Summary

    While waiting for AVG to get its act together and clean up the big steaming pile of horse manure that is AVG 2013-2014, I was using MSE as a stand-in antivirus program. A colleague of mine who does hardware said that MSE had out-performed the more expensive rivals such as Norton, detecting viruses more quickly and accurately.
    The problem is that you never know if an antivirus program is working until you actually need it. All I can say is that I am very surprised at its efficiency because of the fact that Microsoft usually is a bit slow to react to some security gaps. All I can say is: so far, so good.

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  • Results 1-10 of 20

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