Microsoft’s Security Essentials has been our favorite anti-malware application for a while—it’s free, unobtrusive, and it doesn’t slow your PC down, but now it’s even better with the new 2.0 release, which adds network filtering, heuristic protection, and more.

Just to be clear and direct with you: we absolutely recommend Microsoft Security Essentials as your anti-malware / anti-virus utility over any other option—and how can you argue? It’s totally free!

New Features in 2.0

Here’s all of the new features in the latest release, which make it even more of a must-download:

  • Network Traffic Inspection integrates into the network system and monitors the traffic at a low level without slowing down your PC, so it can actually detect threats before they get to your PC.  
  • Internet Explorer Integration blocks malicious scripts before IE even starts running them—clearly a big security advantage. 
  • Heuristic Scanning Engine finds malware that hasn’t been previously detected by scanning for certain types of attacks. This provides even more protection than just through virus definitions.  

These new features make MSE on par with other anti-malware applications, especially the heuristic scanning, which has been the only complaint that anybody could make against MSE in the past—but now it has it.

Disabling the New Features (Though You Shouldn’t)

If you head into Settings –> Real-time protection, you can remove “Enable behavior monitoring” to disable the heuristic scanning, or uncheck “Enable Network Inspection System” to remove the network traffic filtering.

Limiting CPU Usage

We can’t remember if this is a new feature or not, but you can head into Settings –> Scheduled Scan to reduce the CPU usage during the weekly scan—normally the weekly scan only starts when you’re not using the PC, but if you sit back down on the PC while the scheduled scan is going, performance will be less impacted with lower CPU usage.

Again, you should download this new version. It’s excellent. Note: you should make sure you only have a single anti-virus utility installed at a time.

Download Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0

Manual Download for Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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