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Microsoft Security Essentials review

Microsoft Security Essentials

Verdict

Dire test results mean we advise you to steer clear

Review Date: 15 Feb 2013

Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith

Price when reviewed: Free

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
2 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
1 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
5 stars out of 6

True to its name, Security Essentials covers only the bare basics of malware protection. You might think that means less bloat slowing down your system, but in fact Security Essentials added 13 seconds to boot time and 125MB to our system’s RAM usage, making it heavier than some fully featured suites. See also: best free antivirus 2014.

The package’s simplicity does make it easy to use. There’s pretty much nothing to configure: when malware is discovered, a pop-up gives a warning and deals with it automatically. You can check the details and unblock detected items from the main program interface.

Microsoft Security Essentials

Security Essentials updates its signature database only once a day, while many paid-for packages run to an hourly schedule. This may partly explain why it stopped only a shocking 67% of zero-day threats in AV-Test’s detection tests, and even missed 10% of more established threats. This isn’t what we’d call peace of mind.

If you’re looking for free protection, consider Avast Free Antivirus instead: it’s a more lightweight program and provides much better protection.

Author: Darien Graham-Smith

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User comments

Reading this review I was shocked at how bad MS Security Essentials is!

I've been using it for years without issues but reading this I swapped to Avast Pro anti virus - which has some interesting sandbox features.

By cyberindie on 15 Feb 2013

My installation of Security Essentials gets updated every day. It may use Windows Updates but it does a check to make sure the DATs are not out of date. It has also removed viruses that Avira has failed to deal with.

By james016 on 15 Feb 2013

Infrequent Updates?

I have used Microsoft Security Essentials for several years and it gets daily updates, so your information is untrue!! In fact, if I manually check, I often get 2-3 updates in a day!!

Adds 13secs to boot time? Are you using a Pentium II for your testing? LOL.

By cooloox on 15 Feb 2013

Infrequent Updates?

I have used Microsoft Security Essentials for several years and it gets daily updates, so your information is untrue!! In fact, if I manually check, I often get 2-3 updates in a day!!

Adds 13secs to boot time? Are you using a Pentium II for your testing? LOL.

By cooloox on 15 Feb 2013

Infrequent Updates?

I have used Microsoft Security Essentials for several years and it gets daily updates, so your information is untrue!! In fact, if I manually check, I often get 2-3 updates in a day!!

Adds 13secs to boot time? Are you using a Pentium II for your testing? LOL.

By cooloox on 15 Feb 2013

13 seconds?

"Security Essentials added 13 seconds to boot time"

This is simply not true.Over on the tablet pc review forum I've conducted multiple tests with various machines, all with MSE, with NONE of them having an added 13 seconds to the boot time.

Please provide video evidence and computer specs as proof

By rhythm on 16 Feb 2013

flexi-time?

Is this the same thirteen seconds Avast adds to the boot time of your low spec test laptop? If so, it doesn't seem to be a problem in that review...

By ilambert64 on 16 Feb 2013

@ilambert64

I think the issue is more:

"it stopped only a shocking 67% of zero-day threats in AV-Test’s detection tests, and even missed 10% of more established threats."

Missing 33% of new threats and 10% of old threats is a little worrying!

By cyberindie on 17 Feb 2013

What spec?

What are you using as a test machine? Adding 13 seconds to the boot time?

My laptop uses Windows Defender (Windows 8) and if MSE / Defender adds 13 seconds to the boot time, that would mean that the latop would boot, either before I've turned it on, or at the most, in 2 seconds!

Also, I've been getting daily updates to MSE on Windows 7 for the last few years and Defender is still getting daily updates.

By big_D on 18 Feb 2013

Are you kidding?

I use MSE on some 12 PC's and previously used paid for Norton and Avast free. Norton was pure junk, Avast a bit sluggish and prone to system hangups(especially with email scans) plus Avast did not pick up some items MSE did. Generally I have better experience with MSE and would recommend it over Avast.

By fortysix on 18 Feb 2013

try reading Which not PC-PRo

strangley Which recent review rated MSE as No1 compared to other antivirus suites.

Also remember PCPro's tabloid style scare-story March Cover? there does seem to be an on-going agenda here.

personally I would rather stick with unbiased reviews (ie not this one)

By msharratt on 21 Feb 2013

Not impressed

This article is probably the worst I have seen in PC Pro. I'm thinking of cancelling my subscription as a result

By clonefellow on 21 Feb 2013

Insufficient , badly researched report

This is poorly researched & inaccurate report about MSE. Please use your journalistic skills elsewhere. Refer to Which? or to Windows Secrets for a thoroughly researched report which finds considerable favour with MSE.

By spitzf on 21 Feb 2013

Insufficient , badly researched report

This is poorly researched & inaccurate report about MSE. Please use your journalistic skills elsewhere. Refer to Which? or to Windows Secrets for a thoroughly researched report which finds considerable favour with MSE.

By spitzf on 21 Feb 2013

Insufficient , badly researched report

This is poorly researched & inaccurate report about MSE. Please use your journalistic skills elsewhere. Refer to Which? or to Windows Secrets for a thoroughly researched report which finds considerable favour with MSE.

By spitzf on 21 Feb 2013

Biggles Flies Again

That's all I have to say.

By arichter on 21 Feb 2013

Worst Antivirus

It runs several unidentifiable programs such as abc.exe, pqr.exe etc. (do not remember the exact names) in the background, which slows down substancially or even stops an average PC consuming nearly 100% CPU. It took me several months to realize it. I removed the rotten MSE, and now the PC is back to normal. Other antivirus, such as AVG, also has such background programs which are easily identifiable because of names such as avgabc.exe, avgpqr.exe etc. and which do not slow down the PC.

I wonder how Microsoft produces extremely slow and user unfriendly programs like MSE and Windows Vista. I am using Windows but will never install other Microsoft programs in it.

Do you think that a company like Microsoft will give anything free if they can sell it? You must be kidding.

By adhikari on 25 Feb 2013

The Joke Is On You

adhikari, 25/2/2013:

It is hard to decipher what you are talking about. If you "do not remember the exact names", why do you list an alphabet soup of exe files, and what makes you think they have anything to do with MSE?

With regards from my smooth running Vista with MSE to boot - and it boots fast, believe me!

By arichter on 27 Feb 2013

Microsoft Security Essentials

I need help, for some unknown reason my updates are not going on my laptop,on screen it says unknown error.Its been like this for a week or so Im at my wits end,everytime I switch on my laptop I have to update my security essentials because the micro updates are failing,its one big headache can you tell me how to rectify the problem.

By Enigma1951 on 20 Jun 2013

GREAT PRODUCT

I have spent literally thousands of dollars over the years on security programs. All were horrible--even screwed my computer up--always some kind of problem downloading etc. In fact I had to get a new computer because WEBROOT RUINED MY COMPUTER!!!Alas I have had this computer now for 4 years "knock on wood" not a bit of trouble!! It is the free edition of SECURITY ESSENTIALS FROM MICROSOFT--Way to go guys!!!!

By ricckky on 24 Jun 2013

I am surprised at the negative reviews. I have been using Security Essentials since it was first available and have found it more effective then Norton, AVG or Avast!! As long as it is configured to update daily AND I make sure that my Java is kept up to date, I have had no issues. I have been supporting computers for over 30 years, starting back with Wang labs on their VS Super minicomputers and on to all pc technology over the last 20 years. I have to believe that this review is biased and has an agenda!!

By PCDOC on 11 Nov 2013

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