Is "Microsoft Security Essentials" a good anti-virus?

I just noticed an icon down on the bottom of my taskbar for “Microsoft Securtiy Essentials”. It found something called HackTool:Win32/keygen , but didn’t delete it. (it describes this as a “Tool”, with “potentially undesirable behavior” , which I should “permit only if I trust the publisher”.

First, a simple question: what is “microsoft security essentials”?( I assume it’s been installed on my computer automattically with Windows, and I just never noticed) – is it a good antivirus?
Second, what should I do with the “keygen” thingy–tell the security essential program to clean it?

I work in a small company with 6 employees . I have a PC running Windows7 , the other 5 computers use XP. We are connected with a router. Nobody is a computer geek–we call a technician when we need to. I’ve never bothered to ask what antivirus we have .

In my experience it is a good free anti-virus that doesn’t suffer from the severe bloat that some others do.

If it was me I would do an internet search on “hacktool:win32/keygen” and see what you uncover.

Top link of a google search:

Yes. I use it and I would say it’s great. I don’t understand why people pay for AVs.

It was very well regarded in the past, but last time I checked its detection rates had slipped.

I use AVAST! (free) because it also has an excellent Android version.

The ‘keygen’ result likely isn’t a virus or malware, but rather a** key gen**erator used to unlock some pirated software. No doubt installed by someone else who borrowed your PC. :wink:

For a while, I ran MSE next to Avast (both free) on two separate computers on a network that was known to have a lot of bad stuff floating around on it. I also had a third computer running Microsoft Forefront (not free). MSE and Avast both performed just as well as Forefront. Of the three, Forefront was the only one that made my computer horrifically slow. I couldn’t find anything that put MSE ahead of Avast or vice-versa. They were both excellent anti-virus programs that weren’t resource hogs.

Industry tests confirmed my own small scale tests. They placed MSE as a top-notch anti-virus at the time.

Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn’t been putting much effort into MSE lately, and it’s starting to show. It still ranks highly on some charts, but on others it started dropping in 2012 and many tests in 2013 didn’t rank it very well.

Avast is still scoring well. AVG scores well but in my own personal tests it’s become quite bloated and is too much of a resource hog. Avira is ranked well and worked well when I tried it. Bitdefender gets good ratings but I haven’t personally tried it.

Here’s AV-Test’s ratings for Windows 7 anti-virus programs:

MSE ranked very high in performance and usability, but in protection it only ranked a 0.5 out of a possible 6.0, which is extremely poor.
To put it in perspective, Trend Micro and Avast both scored 5.5 and AVG scored 4.5 in protection.

Just a word of warning, and this applies to any program you download. Be sure of the reliability of the source. I once downloaded a Microsoft Security Essentials that was an infector masquerading as a protector. The only reason I spotted it in time was I had just cleaned off a similar infector from a friend’s computer, and the MSE I downloaded had a disturbing similarity.

Let’s be careful out there.

I wouldn’t download anything purporting to be MSE unless I were getting it directly from a site on . If you know the source of something you want, go straight to the source.

That’s harder than you might think. IE is the only browser on a newly installed PC, and defaults to Bing. I was incredibly surprised to see that, for a good long time, searching for “security essentials” got you MSSE in the top links, but below similar-looking advertising that was clearly for malware.

MSE works for me on my 3 computers. Haven’t had any problems with it going on 3 years now.

MSE may also be the only valid AV/malware blocker that continues to work on XP systems. MS has committed to continuing updates to MSE for another year or two. While a number of AV and system security utility makers have promised to keep their tools protecting XP systems, they work under the limitation of not having access to MS’s core code. If an exploit is found that can only be fixed with an MS OS-level patch, MSE may be the only tool that can adequately protect your XP system.

<computer shop guy hat on>

If you are looking for a good free AV, right now Panda cloud antivirus has recently been born again Badass. MSSE is good, but pandas latest offering is IMHO much better. You do need to opt out of a toolbar (made by panda) and home page switch at install, but otherwise…awesomesauce.

Not true. Avast works just fine on XP. It’s what I use on my XP box.

AV-Test list a couple of dozen anti-virus programs that work on XP here:

MSE is by far the lowest ranked on the list, scoring 0.0 out of 6.0 for protection.

F-Secure, Trend Micro, Bit Defender, G-Data, and Comodo topped the list. All of those scored 6.0 out of 6.0.

I have MSE on my personal PCs. I like that it is made by the same guys who made the OS.
It will run in safe mode, a good way to find viruses, and the network based anti-virus at work will not.

To make sure you’re getting it direct, instead of searching just go straight to and click on the downloads link.

I was surfing around the other evening and got a “Microsoft Security Essentials” popup warning me of three separate horrible dire trojan hacker plague things on my computer and that I needed to click on “clean computer immediately”.

Something told me not to do that; instead I opened up MSE on my computer and ran a scan which (surprise!) did not find anything.

Gee, I wonder if it could have been malware masquerading as an MSE warning.

Very good. If I’m feeling paranoid or want a “second opinion” I’ll run Malawarebytes, but MSE is the only one running.

Same thing once happened to me, except it was McAfee’s from a false website and my computer had already been hijacked by one specific person. (That’s ancient history, though.)

Like sex, the best protection from viruses & malware is “safe surfing” – keep your adblock software up to date, never use IE as your browser, and avoid any potentially dangerous sites such as warez & pr0n. Those rules alone will protect you from 90% of all infections. It’s also helpful if you avoid having more than one person using any particular computer.

You omitted the rest of my comment, and may have misread the verb tense there. It’s possible that MSE will be the only malware blocker that continues to work on XP after MS stops issuing updates to everything else - only MS can patch deep holes in the OS, so if an exploit finds such a hole, it could undermine any third-party tool.

MSE is low on resources because it barely works. Every other free antivirus does a better job at protecting you.

And, unlike everyone else, I bring a citation: Note how its protection score is the lowest. Click on it to see how much malware it lets slip by.