How do I enable Microsoft Security Essentials?

How do I enable Microsoft Security Essentials?

By Dave Taylor

The Question:I’m tired of paying for virus updates from McAfee and I don’t really trust AVG’s free version. My professor recommended I try Microsoft’s Security Essentials as an alternative and I’m interested, but can’t find it in my Windows 7 Home Essentials package. So how do I get it running and if I need to download it, where should I go to do that?

Dave’s Answer:
Ever since Microsoft introduced its own antivirus and anti-malware solution, I think it’s been getting a lot of unhappy pushback from security vendors like Symantec and McAfee. That’s the only reason I can imagine that Microsoft isn’t automatically including it – enabled! – on every new system that it powers. Instead, you have to download it, but it’s a free download and it’s pretty darn easy to install.

And as for the other anti-virus solutions, I’m sure that they’re still good and they definitely offer capabilities that Security Essentials doesn’t offer, but if you haven’t cracked open the hood in Windows 7, there’s a lot you’re missing.

To start, there’s a built-in spyware protection system called Windows Defender that you should definitely be running already. Let’s start there.

Off your START menu, look for it:

windows defender

Choose “Windows Defender” and, more likely than not, you’ll find it’s not running…

windows defender 2

No sweat! Click on “Start now” to get the program running on your system again. First step will be to update the spyware definitions from the Microsoft server:

windows defender 3

Steps Continued Here

This post is excerpted with permission from Dave Taylor.

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11 thoughts on “How do I enable Microsoft Security Essentials?”


  2. Backwards, please. I have Windows XP Pro running in BootCamp (on a Mac.) I have NEVER been able to install MSE, even though I once actually removed ALL security programs, including the ones that couldn’t possibly interfere with anything else. (Of course I restarted many times, and also combed through the registry for anything that could have caused the problem. No dice.) Could this be because of the difference in architecture, or something else? And, if it’s something else, how do I find out what it is that’s preventing it? I’d really appreciate some help. Microsoft doesn’t tell you much, whether you’re a Mac-user or not.

  3. Hi, just wanted to know why, when running MSE is running in Windows 7, Win defender turns off and no matter how you try to turn Windows Defender on, it will not turn on while Microsoft Security Essentials is running?


    1. @Ian: Because Microsoft Security Essentials includes a spyware scanner to I think, so it automatically turns off windows Defender which is a spyware tool. There’s no point running the same tool twice it wastes resources.

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