Microsoft Security Essentials review

15 Feb 2013

Dire test results mean we advise you to steer clear

Microsoft Security Essentials

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.


Software subcategory Internet security

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? no
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no
Other operating system support Windows 8