Microsoft has released a free (for personal use) anti-malware service that protects against viruses, spyware and other malicious software. Security Essentials is designed to run quietly in the background alerting users only when there is an action for them to take.
It uses real-time protection to help prevent PCs from becoming infected, and takes advantage of the company’s Dynamic Signature Service. It runs on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 (both 32-bit and 64-bit versions).
To use this software, you have to pass a “piracy check” – that is, the scan that makes sure that you have a genuine, licensed copy of the Windows OS. During the installation process, you are also advised to remove other antivirus or anti-malware programs because the may conflict with the Essentials.
Upon running the program, it is automatically updated with all the latest virus and spyware definitions. Then you are ready to start the scan:
Scan results and the removal process:
Except maybe for the first time, I wouldn’t recommend the full scan, since it takes quite a long time (around 30 minutes on my disk).
The Settings menu allows you to to define a schedule for scans and lets you choose the default actions to execute when a potential threat is detected:
You can also turn on the real-time protection option that lets you know when malware is trying to install itself on your computer:
During the scanning, or in general, you can also make a list of files, file types or processes that should be excluded from the check.
Advanced options include:
All in all, Microsoft Security Essentials is a program that offers an array of options that you can find in most anti-malware software. It’s very user friendly, but a little on the slow side.