There was a time, not so long ago, maybe even last week, when people thought that the only computers that could get viruses were those that ran Microsoft’s family of operating systems.
Hopefully they are wiser now.
Its true, though, that machines running Microsoft Windows are probably more susceptible to malware than other operating systems, purely because of the size of the installed user base.
Therefore, if you use Windows 7 or one of the older versions of Windows, you will want an antivirus program installed.
What better choice, then, than a free program made by Microsoft themselves?
Microsoft Security Essentials Free Antivirus
Microsoft Security Essentials is suitable for anyone running one of the following versions of Windows -
- Windows XP 32-bit
- Windows Vista 32-bit
- Windows Vista 64-bit
- Windows 7 32-bit
- Windows 7 64-bit
Once you’ve downloaded the installer from the Microsoft page you need to run the application.
There are the usual terms and conditions to read and then agree to before the big M checks that your copy of Windows is a genuine one.
Assuming you have a legit copy of Windows, MSE will install itself very quickly indeed and will then go straight into an update which isn’t bad practice at all.
Once that update is complete you will be able to check out the features that Microsoft Security Essentials has to offer.
Said features are a little sparse when compared to other antivirus programs you may pay for but are certainly good enough for a free program (hopefully you can see them in the screenshot below).
One thing I would recommend you do straight away is to click on ‘Advanced’ and then put a tick in “Scan removable drives” as this is off by default.
Doing so will protect you from some nasty viruses, such as Conficker, that are often spread through removable drives.
Performance was the next thing I looked at, by running a scan and Task Manager together.
It was pleasing to see that MSE only used about 4 megs of memory during the process.
CPU usage wasn’t bad either – it used around 35% of the CPU on average but that was mainly on just one core so running other programs in the background was no problem at all.
Whether or not Microsoft Security Essentials is the right antivirus program for you or not is a personal decision of course – you may decide you need more features in which case you want one of the (paid for) top 10 antivirus programs.
If free antivirus suits your budget better then you could do far worse than MSE.