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Is Microsoft Security Essentials Enough Protection?

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 by | Filed Under: Security Help

John from Toronto:

I have windows 7 home premium.I use Microsoft security essentials. Do I still need an anti virus? Thank you in advance.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free program that you can download for your Windows PC. 

In test results conducted by AVTest an independent IT security company, it scored OK, but not great. Security Essentials ranked 9 0ut of 10 systems tested, but that score isn’t as bad as it sounds. It still detected 59 out of 60 instances of malware, removed 53 out of 60 malware components and scored 88% on total system repair.

Essentials also detected all of the viruses thrown its way and managed to complete remove 26 out of 30.

Security Essentials was tested along with Avast, AGV, Avira, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes and Norton. The good news is that all of the programs did an acceptable job of protecting your computer.

But some did a better job than Microsoft Security Essentials. According to AVTest, Malwarebytes, Bitdefender and Kaspersky did the best job among the security suites they tested. Though they say that everything they tested, including Microsoft Security Essentials, did okay.

Microsoft does regularly update the security definitions for Security Essentials, but they also share this same information with third-party security providers and it looks like some of these programs do a better job of implementing the clean-up than Security Essentials.

It’s a little like the difference between having one lock on your door and adding an extra deadbolt for protection. It’s certainly not a bad idea to consider moving up to an added layer of defense for your computer. In addition to an anti-virus, it’s always a good idea to have malware protection.

Just a reminder to Windows users that while Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 can be protected by Security Essentials or third-party security software, there is no protection for Windows XP. You can clean off previously known threats, but there are no fixes coming from Microsoft for new threats.

~ Cynthia


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12 Responses to “Is Microsoft Security Essentials Enough Protection?”

  1. lyn buerger says:

    I was using Misc Essentials and my computer got so infected with no notifications that I thought it was totally lost. I ran several clean up tools before I finally got it cleared and then removed Essentials and went with AVG. Have had not problem since. I think Essentials stinks.

    • matt says:

      AVG is good MSE is also good.

      MSE stinks if you don’t use it properly and don’t update it on a regular basis while you do stuff that could guarantee a virus.

      third parties are different because they have their own set of features offered that all together in one package can be useful. third parties update their antivirus through their databases.

      MSE will turn on your Windows firewall and works with your windows updates for it to be effective.

  2. Fernando says:

    The question from John was, does he need an antivírus and the response is a test to several anti malware utilities, which are only a part of the problem.

    • cynthia says:


      I was comparing the performance of Microsoft Security Essentials against third-party security programs. As I said, it does pretty well, though other software did a bit better. Malware protection is a good addition to any anti-virus program.

  3. Tristan says:

    Can’t help but notice that the test results shown are a pretty small sample size (only 60 systems for each program) and has no specified variables (like, what kind of systems were used? Were they all pre-programmed with the exact same software and pre-existing viruses? Or were they just random computers that had been surfing the internet for a while?).

    I’d take those results with a pretty healthy pinch of salt or two.

    • Guest says:

      Um… that wasn’t 60 PCs with 1 malware, it was 1 pc with 60 malwares, repeated over, and over with each different AV vendor.

  4. BobD says:

    A Trojan virus and a bunch of malware goto thu my ms security Essentials. Malware bytes identified them but every time I hit “fix” I got “malwarebytes has stopped working.” So much for those two programs. I’m looking

    • matt says:

      The trojan virus is the worst you can get once it is on your PC.

      They are clever because they hide themselves they have fooled many antivirus programs it’s even fooled my mates AVG and he payed for that now that’s saying something.
      Malwarebytes has never had a problem finding these.

      MSE covers basic threats things that you install accidentally bad addons bad browser toolbars etc assuming you keep it up to date. It really does depend if you set up your PC properly first before you started what you were doing, and it depends that if you do get infected what the threat is and and where it is on your system.

  5. Bob says:

    I had a problem with getting the scam “Your PC is at risk call XXX”. Everything I read said use Malwarebytes to remove it. I have the PAID for Malwarebytes application and it couldn’t find anything. So, I don’t believe the statistics that you published are accurate.

    • matt says:

      I have used the free version of Malwarebytes but it’s recommended to use as a scanner once you have been infected and depending how bad the infection is, it is a very good product and several people that use it would recommend.

      Hackers will try and create a virus that attacks good detection products because bad guys know it is a good product and will remove their threats and they don’t want that so they will try and take down Malwarebytes.

  6. George Boggs says:

    Dear Cynthia:
    Could you rate [Webroot Secure anywhere] . After having some problems with System Mechanics becoming corrupt off and on, when I bought my wife a new laptop from Best Buy they recommended it and I had a 3 unit ability I put it on my desktop, running 8.1. So far I have had no problems.

    Thank You George Boggs

  7. Ran Craig says:

    I used third party antivirus, norton, avg,avast, avira..etc.. EVEN LICENSE AND PREMIUM THEre always a problem. but whwn i used microsoft security essential now no problem.. my pc is healthy!

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