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Week in Geek: The Microsoft Security Essentials is Excellent Edition

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Earlier this week, Microsoft released their completely free anti-virus/anti-spyware solution, and we already gave it a thorough review—but it deserves our official endorsement, and that’s right here.

That’s right, we’re officially recommending Microsoft Security Essentials as our free Anti-Malware utility of choice. Not only is it simple, easy to use, and effective—it also barely slows down the computer compared to some of the giant “suites” out there.


As a real-world test, I installed MSE and started downloading from some really shady sources—pirated video games, crack files, etc. I simply opened up the directory containing the files, and MSE had already detected the threat and offered to quarantine the files.


The same thing happened again when I tried to extract a pirated piece of software that contained a virus. (I specifically downloaded one containing a virus to test… but please, don’t try this at home).


Of course, it should go without saying that you should STILL BE CAREFUL! when downloading files—you can’t simply trust your anti-malware utility to protect you all the time, because new threats come out daily. Don’t download from shady sources, don’t install crapware on your computer, and whatever you do… make sure to use a custom install and be prepared to uncheck the options for junk software when installing.

Download Microsoft Security Essentials from

For more, check out our must-read series on Spyware and Malware:

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The Geek’s Note

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  • Published 10/3/09

Comments (29)

  1. Shail

    Scan Takes Much Time :(

  2. Michel Billard

    Thanks for endorsing it. I presumed it was good enough because if Microsoft recommends it to its customers, then it must be pretty damn sure it’s going to protect them.

    I was waiting for so long to replace McAfee (at work because I sure don’t use McAfee at home) and this is perfect. Free and efficient, I barely notice it scanning while McAfee would slow my PC so much I couldn’t work for like an hour (yes scans took that long).


  3. Chito

    Yes it was able to detect viruses in which other commercial anti virus products wasn’t able to detect . . . the thing is . . . will this be FREE forever? . . .

  4. Brandon

    I’ve been using it on a fresh install of xp sp3 and so far it’s been excellent. I don’t notice any slowdon (though I haven’t tried to scan yet) I’m using avg on vista sp1 (because it won’t let me update to sp2) and I think I’m going to try it there too.

  5. calebstein

    I always trust The Geek. I am going to install it now.

  6. Zachary

    How does this compare to the existing anti-virus and anti-malware applications out these, ex. Avast, AVG, or Spybot S&D?

  7. Mark

    I installed on an XP SP3 system and the memory footprint is significantly smaller than Norton. I have noticed a slight delay when accessing files over the network, but cannot specifically attribute this to the MSSE…yet.

  8. Maanoj Rakhit

    Thanks Geek for excellent suggestion. I installed it on my Vista Home Basic system. It can be made better by adding an option to pause and later resume full scan which takes plenty of time but then I couldn’t find a way to submit the feedback to Microsoft. I noticed two issues and wonder if nayone else too has noticed them (1) on 3rd in settings I scheduled full scan every day at 10 am and then on 5th I checked at 11:30 am – I wouldn’t know if it did anything on 4th but I am sure that on 5th until 11:30 am it hadn’t started the scheduled task – it is important that I clarify on both days system was on at the scheduled time but task did not begin (2) on 3rd I had installed it, completed all definition updates, completed full scan, on 5th I checked at 11:30 and found no virus definitions had been updated – so I started manual full scan and after half-hour I checked and found system had not updated virus definitions though I had checked the box for definition update before starting scheduled full scan – probably system thought it was running a manual full scan hence not necessary to download virus definitions – so I had to download them by manual interference – thus system was without any definition update for over 48 hours. These issues became very apparent because I was running Kaspersky 2010 before installing MSE – just as an addition info I did uninstal fully KIS 2010 before installing MSE.

  9. roshamboe

    this is really good, detected something that mbam and mcafee didn’t even detect.

  10. Susan Parchick

    Can’t install Microsoft Security Essentials.
    Update hangs up and leaves an error message that says:
    Check your internet conection.

    Can you help?

  11. Jarrod

    PC Mag does NOT recommend MS Security Essentials.,2817,2353699,00.asp?kc=PCRSS03069TX1K0001121

  12. The Geek


    PC Mag is not really very reputable anymore. They even admit that MSE blocks 98% of dangerous malware, but they still don’t give it a recommendation.

    The fact is, many of these big sites make a lot of money from anti-virus and security software vendors. Microsoft giving away free stuff cuts into their bottom line.

    It’s a culture of fear for the sole purpose of making money, and it needs to stop. MSE is an excellent solution, and will continue to get better.

    And of course, nothing is a substitute for using your computer responsibly. Stop downloading stuff that you really shouldn’t, from shady sources, and you’ll probably never have a virus.

  13. Chocobito

    Microsoft Security Essentials is not so light like Microsoft said. Eset Smart Security use less CPU and less RAM, also this don’t slow explorer like MSE did. Considers that ESS use several module like firewall, antispam, IMON (web shield) and others, vs MSE that is only a antivirus. Anyway its a good FREE alternative but not the best.

  14. Nick 8pmStart

    Working on 3xp machines here.
    Individual file scans seem quicker than AVG.

  15. calebstein

    Ever since I dumped Avast! for MSE, my computer’s startup and logon times have decreased a lot. And it has protected my computer about the same amount or more than Avast!.

    Thanks for the recommendation, Geek!

  16. traffic

    I tryed this security essentials with my lenovo minipc and it appeared to slow my computer sometimes very dramatically. Changed back to avast! and no problems. So for slow or old computer I wont recommend.

  17. rupeshkp728

    During installation I get the “error code 0x80070643”. The message says: Can’t complete the Microsoft Security Essentials Installation wizard. An error has prevented the Microsoft Security Essentials Installation wizard from continuing. Please restart your computer and try again.
    Any idea on how to resolve it?

  18. jeka

    your computer needs some Minimum system requirements to actually get the full potencial and run well the requirements are minimun like I said so to get your computer in shape to run well it’s not difficult. you computer must not have one of it!

    geekly yours

  19. calebstein

    I just read some things about MSE and decided to go back to avast.

  20. tom


    what did you read that made you switch back, and can you link the articles?

  21. calebstein

    @tom: (they said that mse had fewer features)

    I also prefered the avast interface and all of its features.

  22. Rob

    After using MSE on my Windows 7 machine for a few months now I can say it is the best free Anti-Malware/virus available. ESET NOD32 is still my anti/everything of choice, but MSE is very impressive for free.



  24. Guilty Spark643

    Hi Giacomo I had a similar problem when installing MSE on a friends laptop if you downloaded it from microsoft site and it was the xp version I found it wouldnt install try the vista version it works the same and will update. failing that you would have to check your config settings in the cmd prompt.

  25. Sandy

    If you are having trouble downloading and installing MSE,upgrade to windows 7!I tried to download MSE on my xp and vista,and it was crappy.when i upgraded to windows 7,the download worked just fine!MSE is great,but the scans are pretty long.

  26. Kim

    It works! Thanks man.

  27. Peacepox

    Can MSE be paused?

    Also, I lost my sound.

    I want to pause MSE, and see if that helps me restore my sound.

  28. vgamesx1

    @Zachary and anyone else that likes (AVG, Avast, Norton, McFee, and MicroTrend)
    These all fail.. the free version hardly does anything since all they do is scan, so if you do not scan it won’t protect you, and the paid version of Avast would be ok but all others would be about as bad but have active protection.
    MSE is best overall because it protects of vriuses and spyware, and most important has real time protection, plus can set CPU usage to scans making it easier to run in the background.
    only thing I want from MSE is a few more advanced features but whatever.

  29. A

    MSE installs and runs flawlessly on Windows 8, for those of you that installed a copy of the Developer Preview for Windows 8.

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