If you have not yet upgraded to Windows 8 and want a free antivirus program, then you may consider Microsoft Security Essentials. The program scans for different types of threats, including viruses, spyware, worms, Trojans and rootkits among others. Windows 8 has an enhanced security program built in, which is known as Windows Defender.
- Three scan modes
- Some advanced scan settings
- Automatic spyware and virus definitions
- Shell extension
- Scan scheduler
Using Microsoft Security Essentials
You must have a genuine copy of Windows to install the security software, and the process takes some time. The program asks users to uninstall other antivirus tools to avoid software conflict.
The user interface has a simple layout with four tabs marked Home, Update, History and Settings respectively. Although the software is considered “baseline” even by the makers, it has some advanced settings. Its color theme changes depending on the way it rates a system’s safety level, with green, yellow and red respectively indicating full protection, potential threats and risky activity.
In the Home tab, we could determine whether the virus and spyware definitions were up to date and real-time protection was either on or off. That was where we could also choose Quick, Full or Custom scan. When we made our choice and pressed the “Scan now” button, the program displayed start and elapsed times, scan type, a progress bar, and scanned items, including the name of the file currently being scanned.
The program displayed a pop-up dialog box when it detected something malicious, which showed the name of the malicious agent, alert level, status and action it recommended. If you want to get more information, then you need to log in at the Microsoft website.
We could filter the History list to display only allowed files or quarantined ones apart from showing all detected items. The Settings tab allowed us to schedule the type of scan we wanted the program to perform automatically every day at a specified time. We could also define the action we wanted it to perform without prompting us. It performs weekly auto-scans by default.
Although the virus and spyware definitions are updated automatically when you are connected to the Internet, you may also initiate the process whenever you want.
If you are a casual Internet user, then Microsoft Security Essentials is capable of protecting your system free of charge.