Microsoft Security Essentials Offers Fast, Powerful and Free Malware Protection
What it is:Microsoft Security Essentials is a free anti-malware and anti-virus package, designed to compete with both commercial and free offerings like AVG and Norton.
What we like:First, and most obviously, we like the price point; it's hard to argue with free. But no matter how free an app is, if it sucks, there's no reason to install it. Thankfully, there is plenty more to like about Security Essentials.
Unlike some other anti-virus suites, MSE (as it will be known from here on out) is light on its feet. In addition to using very little RAM, saving precious CPU power for more important things (like watching the Switched Video feature). MSE is fast; scans take significantly less time than they do with many free or paid options.
MSE also ranks with the best paid options for malware detection and removal. It outclasses all its free competitors, and even does a better job than some non-free products like McAfee.
What we don't like:While it is constantly improving, MSE does fall flat in a couple of categories when it comes to detection. In particular, MSE lacks a powerful behavior-monitoring engine for identifying suspicious programs before they've been flagged as malicious. It does have rudimentary behavioral detection, but it's nowhere near as powerful as those of most paid products.
You'll also miss out on some advanced features afforded by more established free options and for-pay suites. On the plus side, this makes MSE relatively unobtrusive and simple to use. On the downside, it can occasionally be frustrating for someone who is used to having complete control over their PC's security.
Bottom line:While it's far from perfect, MSE represents one of the best values in the security software marketplace. Its excellent balance of speed and power makes it a particularly compelling option for those tired of watching their PC become basically unusable for an hour or more while performing malware scans.
Download Microsoft Security Essentials here.