Microsoft Security Essentials (beta)
This is set-it-and-forget-it software that handles the basic dangers, but doesn't try to compete with big-boy security suites
- Free, easy to use, none of the software bloat and slow performance that bedevilled OneCare
- Still only in beta, yet to be put through its paces by antivirus labs
Microsoft Security Essentials — even in beta form — appears to be a success. It's exceedingly simple to use, takes up few system resources and doesn't cost anything. Those who want fuller-featured security suites that do backups and other functions, or who want to be able to tweak their protection levels in more detail, will look elsewhere.
The beta of Microsoft Security Essentials is a solid, free tool that protects against malware while taking up few system resources and staying out of your way as much as possible.
This is set-it-and-forget-it software that handles the basic dangers, but doesn't try to compete with big-boy security suites such as those built by Symantec, McAfee or Panda. So you won't find extras such as a firewall, identity protection, anti-phishing technology or anti-spam. Instead, Security Essentials focuses on protecting you against viruses, spyware, rootkits and similar dangers, and does a very good job of it.
Those who have wrestled unhappily with the software's predecessor, Microsoft Live OneCare, will be pleased to know that Security Essentials suffers from none of the software bloat and slow performance that bedevilled OneCare. Unlike OneCare, Security Essentials doesn't do performance tune-ups, back up your PC, take up too much system resources - or cost a penny.
Installation and setup
Security Essentials comes in versions for Windows XP and Windows Vista (the Vista version will also work with Windows 7). Both are light downloads: The 32-bit Vista download weighs in at 4.8 MB, the 64-bit Vista version at 3.8MB and the XP version (there's only a 32-bit version) comes in at 7.6 MB.
Installation of the 32-bit Vista version on our machine took less than five minutes and was about as simple as an installation can be. There is one caveat, though: You need to have a validated copy of Windows. Not surprisingly, Microsoft's software won't work with pirated or non-validated versions.
Once installation is complete, the application downloads the latest anti-malware definitions. It then launches a quick system scan that took under ten minutes on my system.
Security Essentials uses a new feature called the Dynamic Signature Service, which employs a variety of techniques to check for malware even before that malware's specific signature has been identified. Microsoft says Security Essentials emulates the behaviour of programs before they run, and uses the signature created during the process to look for any suspicious behaviour or patterns of suspicious behaviour, such as starting an unexpected network connection or trying to modify certain protected sections of Windows. The Dynamic Signature Service then determines what action to take against the potential malware.
Once the software has scanned your system, you don't need to do anything else, unless it finds malware that it wants to kill or quarantine. New anti-malware signatures are automatically downloaded daily, using the Windows Update engine; you can also have the software to check for the latest definitions manually. Security Essentials also provides real-time protection, so it watches your system as you use it and warns you if you're downloading malware or if your system has been infected. The software also scans your system once a week by default. You can manually override the defaults and set up specific days and times to perform the scans; more about this later.
Join the newsletter!
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Ballistix Sport AT
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Apple iMac Pro
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Toys for Boys
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
ESET Smart Security Premium
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Tivoli PAL BT
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
ESET Internet Security
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 5 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
Latest News Articles
- McAfee releases 2019 Threat Predictions Report
- Malwarebytes releases 2018 Q3 Cybercrime Tactics and Techniques Report
- Cylance helps Australians stay smart online
- McAfee QTR detects 2018 threat activity
- Formjacking on the rise in lead up to festive shopping period
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- CES 2019 Round-Up:
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Samsung’s Galaxy S10 will launch on Feb 20
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies