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Posted by: thepinetree on 05/25/2010 07:52 AM Updated by: thepinetree on 05/25/2010 07:52 AM
Expires: 01/01/2015 12:00 AM
:

Free PC Software Top Picks Part 1 of 5 – Anti-Virus Software~By Greg Douglas

I have always been a proponent of free PC software (freeware), especially Anti-Virus software. I’ve never liked the notion that you have to pay someone just to protect your PC from the vulnerabilities of Viruses and Spyware. Unfortunately, Anti-Virus software is a life necessity, but it doesn’t have to break the bank for good protection. Most new PC’s do come pre-loaded with some form of Anti-Virus software, but usually these are time limited trial versions that will expire within 30-90 days. Once expired, your PC will once again become vulnerable to new threats as the program will no longer update the virus database until you pay for a subscription. PC manufacturers provide these trial versions in the hope that you....

will subscribe once expired. This is one of the ways that they subsidize the low cost of the machine as they are paid by the software manufacturers once you subscribe to the service.

I have used many AV programs over the years, both paid subscriptions as well as freeware. The problem with most of today’s Anti-Virus software programs is that they try to do far too much stuff all at once, requiring an excessive amount of system resources at all times (high memory, CPU and disk usage requirements). These resources are no longer available for the operating system and other programs to access and, in turn, will slow your entire computer down. Older, low powered and low memory machines are most affected, but even newer, more powerful machines will feel the pinch. Many of the freeware AV programs also limit the types of Malware they detect unless you pay for their “Premium” service, leaving your PC vulnerable to countless threats. What most users need is just a basic AV program to provide solid protection, without all the extra junk like backup utilities, personal firewalls, IM/search protection, etc that are commonly bundled into most AV programs.

Enter Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). This new release of Anti-Virus software from Microsoft provides protection against viruses, spyware, adware, rootkits, worms, trojan horses and even fraudware, or fake Anti-Virus programs. Very few AV programs even attempt to detect the latter, even most paid AV providers. It is designed for Windows XP (32-bit only), Windows Vista, and Windows 7 (both 32-bit and 64-bit versions). Oh, and the best part, it’s absolutely free!! With it’s built-in hueristics, MSE may quite possibly the most complete virus protection that money can’t buy.



MSE is a free security suite designed for consumer PC users as well as small and home-based businesses. It includes the same exact anti-malware engine that all other Microsoft anti-malware products share, including paid versions of Forefront Client Security enterprise software and the Windows Live OneCare consumer software (discontinued). MSE will disable Windows Defender (if installed) upon installation as adware and spyware will now be handled by MSE. MSE will also enable Windows Updates to fully automatic mode as well.

MSE can be installed on an unlimited number of computers in your household or small business with the only requirement being that you own a genuine copy of Microsoft Windows XP, Vista or 7 on each PC it is installed on. MSE checks the operating system during and after the installation to be sure it is genuine. There are no registration requirements and no personal information is sent to Microsoft during or after installation. If it detects that your copy of Windows is not genuine it will display a dialog box with options to resolve the problem or continue with a time limitation of 30 days before the program stops working.



Hardware requirements are minimal, 500Mhz CPU/256MB RAM for XP and 1Ghz CPU/1GB RAM for Vista/Windows 7, 800X600 VGA, 140MB disk space for installation and an internet connection for updates.

MSE has a very small footprint and is very lightweight, using about 120mb of disk space and well under 10mb of memory, even during a full scan. It does not bog down your PC, like so many AV programs do. In fact, it is nearly transparent.

MSE provides real-time protection, email scanning, automatic updates three times daily and scheduled scans in a simplified tabbed user interface. The user interface is very intuitive and the default settings are adequate for most users. If a threat is detected a dialog box will appear in the lower right corner of the screen. It gives the user the option to “Clean Computer” or “Show Details”. It will automatically clean the threat in ten minutes if there is no user input. Scans are relatively fast, around 10 minutes for a “Quick Scan” and about 45 minutes for a “Full Scan” and can run in the background.



Microsoft hit the ball out of the park with this one. MSE is a very well rounded and very powerful security suite for the average user, with a lightwieght package, easy to use interface and it’s best feature…it’s free. I use MSE exclusively on all of my PC’s and recommend it to all of my clients.

You can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free from Microsoft’s website at http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/

Look for Part 2 of my Top Picks – Keep it running smooth with PC Cleanup Utilities

Greg Douglas is an Angels Camp resident, providing affordable computer services to surrounding communities. Contact info: angelscamp.pc.guy@sbcglobal.net or (209)663-2456.


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