Recommended antivirus: Microsoft Security Essentials


Update: Unfortunately, since version 2 was released, Malwarebytes is no longer working properly. In fact I have seen on several computers where it is messing up other programs, including my clients’ online file backup software. I am recommending that Malwarebytes be uninstalled. The security software we now use and recommend is here.

I have been recommending AVG antivirus since 2004.  A couple of weeks ago, AVG introduced the 2011 version of their free program.  I downloaded and installed it with no problem, and I installed it on some of the laptops that I sell.  In last Monday’s Computer Tip blog post, I recommended getting it.

Microsoft Security Essentials

Then I started hearing from some people that installed AVG 2011.  Some were having a problem with the computer locking up after the installation was complete.  Others, like me, had no problem.  But I don’t really want to recommend a program that works for some and not others – especially since having an antivirus program is not optional, it’s required.

In researching alternatives, I kept hearing about one particular program: Microsoft Security Essentials.  Tech friends, and trusted sources in the tech industry, told me pretty consistently that they liked it and it worked well.  And like our previous choice, Microsoft Security Essentials is free.

So I installed it on a few computers, including mine, and used it for a few days.  Here are some things I found that I like about it:

1. It is a small download

2. It is easy to install

3. It is easy to configure

Rather than type out a step-by-step tutorial here, I created a screencast video that shows how to install Microsoft Security Essentials, and how I configured mine.  You might want to click to view it full screen; the detail is not all that great.

You can get MSE here:

One thing to keep in mind: get MSE downloaded, installed and updated before you uninstall AVG (or whatever antivirus you are currently using).  You might get a warning during the MSE installation that it’s not good to have 2 antivirus programs installed (which is true), but continue with the installation because the last step in the overall process is to uninstall your current antivirus software.

Also, I highly recommend that you use MSE in conjunction with a good antispyware program.  The one I have had very good experience with is Malwarebytes.  The paid version is just $24.95 (one time, not a subscription) and it runs all the time in the background to keep the bad stuff out (watch my Malwarebytes video review).

Questions, comments, etc – please put them in a comment below rather than emailing me directly.  That way, everyone else can benefit from the information.

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Moe Beaudin
October 25th, 2010

I have also downloaded the 2011 version of AVG and have been having problems
since but can’t say for sure it’s caused by AVG. One thing for sure that AVG
has been doing daily that I don’t like it having daily updates that require that I
restart my computer. Prior to installing the 2011 version AVG has had updates
on occasions but not daily like they do now. I have been booted out of game rooms due to “hungapps” every day and sometimes as many times as 3 in an
hours time since I downloaded the new version of AVG. I have been booted out
with hungapps before but not as often as I have since I downloaded the new
version. Maybe it’s a coincidence but I don’t think so. As a side note, I have the
paid version of Malwarebytes, thanks to Scott’s recommendation, and I am very happy with this program. I have even recommended it to others.

Steve Bristol
October 25th, 2010

I installed AVG 2011 but is gave me a notice saying that there was a conflict with Microsoft security essentials and that I first needed to uninstall MSE before I could proceed with the download. I chose not to uninstall MSE, but instead uninstalled mt previous version of AVG, and I have had nothing but freeze ups and slow running programs since then. I am now very frustrated with my computer’s performance, and even though I have uninstalled AVG, an icon still shows up in my system tray and AVG email scanner is still scanning my emails. HELP!! I can’t stand this anymore. I want AVG gone completely off of my computer, but I can’t seem to get it totally removed. It does not show up anymore as a program on my computer for me to even try to unintall again. What do I have to do? I do not wan’t to uninstall MSE.

Scott Johnson
October 25th, 2010

Steve – do a google search for Revo Uninstaller (free download). I think that is what you will need to use to get rid of AVG for good.

Moe Beaudin
October 25th, 2010

I downloaded AVG version 2011 and I did not like the fact that I was getting update notices every day and having me restart my computer. I was also having problems with “hungapp” when my computer would freeze up or I would get booted out of whatever I was doing. I didn’t think that the freezing up was caused by AVG but after I downloaded the MSE and uninstalled AVG 2011 I have not froze or been booted out once. Prior to uninstalling it I froze up twice while trying to write this comment. I had to power down by pushing the power button since
control/alt/delete would not work. So now I am convinced that AVG 2011 was my
problem. As a side note, I have the paid verson of Malwarebytes at Scott’s recommendation and I am totally satisfied with this software.

Steve Bristol
October 28th, 2010

Thanks for the info on the Revo uninstaller Scott. I did download that program, but since it didn’t see AVG on my computer either, I had to reinstall AVG 2011 and then uninstall it, and then reinstall Microsoft Security Essentials. Although AVG is totally uninstalled from my computer now, on start up I still get an AVG window that says my AVG product is not properly licensed. Small bother but I can live with it.

Milton Segal
October 28th, 2010

Thank you for the info about Microsoft Securty Essentials. I have using AVG for
about 5 years, since installing 2011 my computer ran slower than before and justdid not operate as it should. I took your advice and installed MSE. “Bingo” it made
a great difference. I am very please with it. Thanks again.

Les Bond
November 8th, 2010

I finally managed to get rid of the AVG window that kept popping whenever I started my computer, with the Revo Uninstaller. Per your and another person on this site’s suggestion, I re-downloaded AVG, at least the installer program, and then with REVO managed to get it uninstalled. I found REVO to not be intuitive or user friendly for me, but managed to get it done. Also got rid of a lot of old previously deleted items, so I may keep it after the 30 day free trial period.

August 21st, 2011

$brick = “AVG 2011”
$feather = “Microsoft Security Essentials”
$my_pc = “Windows XP”
$result = $my_pc – $brick + $feather

echo $result

“Runs like a breeze again”.

Thank you so much for this recommendation.