Microsoft Security Essentials: Is “free” worth the price?

Microsoft announced last month that their Security Essentials anti-virus/anti-spyware product will be free for small business users as of today (10/7/2010). On the surface it’s great news! Is this free solution a good choice for your business? Let’s look into it further.


  • Free
  • Runs well on newer machines
  • Detection and cleaning is easy
  • Uses Microsoft Update for program updates
  • Can use WSUS for centralized updating on a business network
  • Includes scheduled scans and real-time protection
  • Scans both viruses and other malware


  • Can slow down older XP machines (systems that run fine with, say, VIPRE or ESET)
  • Reports of spotty detection and cleaning
  • Very few options or system tools
  • No centralized management. Each user can set up or change active protection, scan policies, and updates…and infections must be handled on a computer-by-computer basis
  • Not all remote monitoring systems will detect MSSE logs properly

Bottom line

MSSE may be worth a try if your business does not need automated antivirus policy management. If you have advanced users who can handle their own scan “fixing” (or can be trusted to ask when they see the windows pop up) it can work well. It sure beats paying for consumer-grade McAfee or Norton AV.

On the other hand, we can offer VIPRE Enterprise (or Eset or Trend Micro) for a couple bucks per seat per month and use the built-in management features to automatically set scan, protection, and cleaning policies…and get paged or emailed when problems arise. It costs more than this to check each system for protection status, scan logs, etc.

All of our Comprehensive Care plans include enterprise-level antivirus so we can managed your AV scan policies, cleaning options, and receive notification of any problems that are detected. Contact us if you’d like to find out more!

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  • By New guidance on free antivirus « Inside the Mind on November 7, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    […] Microsoft’s free anti-virus/anti-malware protection software. As we noticed a few months ago, there are some pretty bad gaps in MSE’s detection and protection ability. We also saw some performance issues on a few systems. Now it turns out there is a malware version […]

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