How-To Geek

Don’t Pay for Windows Security When You Don’t Have To

Note: This article is part of our archive and is likely out of date.
(Links may not work, downloads have not been recently tested for safety)

Over at Lifehacker, I’ve written an article of interest to How-To Geek readers, about how well the default Windows security tools work if you just use a little common sense (and install Microsoft Security Essentials).


If you’ve got any geek skills at all, you probably don’t need to bother paying for an expensive security suite and a subscription. Instead, you can use the completely free Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus application, which we’ve already given our official blessing as a great solution.

I also explained the basics of how to keep your computer updated using Windows Update and third-party tools like Secunia PSI (which we’ve previously covered here).


For more, check out the article over at Lifehacker: Stop Paying for Windows Security; Microsoft’s Security Tools Are Good Enough

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/10/09

Comments (13)

  1. darmar

    I had an icon at the bottom of my screen for the speakers. It is now gone. How do I get it back?
    I’m sure it’s something simple, but I’m in need of help on this one.

  2. bobbylight

    Great post, I like to see a comparison on the top anti-virus programs and how much memory they each use. Does MSE use more then Avira free edition?

  3. Doc

    @darmar: Go to Control Panel -> Sounds and Audio Devices. Make sure “Place volume icon in the taskbar” is checked. If it is, and you still don’t see the icon, click the left arrow (or up arrow in Windows 7) to unhide the icon. If you don’t want it to ever be hidden, right click the taskbar, select “Properties,” click “Customize” next to “Hide inactive icons,” and set the behavior for “Volume” to “Always Show.” Hope this helps.

  4. Doc

    @HTG: See my response to your Lifehacker article. BTW, by “play with computers” in my response, I mean “have been an IT admin for 10+ years.” :)

  5. Peter

    Well guys – sounds super: But we are not allowed to download this from the Microsoft homepage in Denmark.

    Any ideas as to how to work around this issue – apart from using some fancy Open DNS spoofing method ? Because if something that are free AND from MS AND are getting high recommendations from you then I’m convinced.



  6. bobbylight

    @ Peter

    Why not use a proxy?

  7. Jon

    You can always use Virtualbox to create a VM and do your own test comparisons for resource usage. Look for Msseces.exe and MsMpEng.exe as those are the running processes for MSE.

    My experience is that I have 4GB RAM so I am not concerned about how much memory it uses. I am more concerned about CPU usage as I’ve seen security suites just eat that up. An example is McAfee that will make a computer completely unusable during a scan. MSE is very lightweight in regards to that, you can run a scan and still use your computer without an issue.

    Never heard of a proxy before?

  8. Peter

    @bobbylight & Jon

    Proxy sounds interesting – can you point me to a good link where that is explained ? Know any good walkthroughs for this ?

    I willing to do some tweaking – but need a guide to make sure I’m not wasting too much time…


  9. jd2066

    @Peter: You should be able to switch Microsoft web sites and the download will appear.
    Like goto for the United States download page or for the Australia download page but if the version of Windows you have is specific to Denmark then the download .exe file for other counties may have checks to disallow it’s install on that version.

  10. Peter

    @jd2066: Smooth as silk – it worked like a charm !
    Thanks for taking the time to help me with your suggestions.



  11. fred

    all toooooo frequently when i d’load a new program to my xp machine, the restart/shut down functions go on the blink!…why is this and is there an easy fix other then NOT to d’load any new sfw?

    thanks for the help,


  12. Dwight Stegall

    Microsoft Security Essentials interferes with several other applications. Secunia is just plain awful. When you have problems it doesn’t tell you when you don’t have problems it says you do and when you have installed updates it says you haven’t. They can keep both of these.

  13. the earth ox

    Being born in the chinese year of the EARTH OX 1949 im not to intelegent on computers having taught myself from since may this year. DO read most of the geek posts that i may need and try to use them. Good to know information is being freely passed on THANKS THE EARTH OX

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