Security Software Recommendations
By Leo Notenboom
What security software should I use? How about a firewall? And what about spyware? Should I use one of the all-in-one packages that claim to do everything? Is there anything else I need?
As you might imagine, I get questions like this all the time. As a result, I do have recommendations for security software and techniques to stay safe in various articles all over Ask Leo!.
To make your life a little easier, here’s a short version that sums it all up.
The short-short version
Most home and small business users who don’t want to think about it too much should simply:
•Get a router even if you have only one computer; it will be your firewall.
•Install the free Microsoft Security Essentials as your anti-virus, anti-spyware and malware scanner.
•Turn on Windows Automatic Update.
•Turn on the Windows Firewall when you travel.
Good basic protection in four steps with only one download.
Basic security software: Microsoft Security Essentials
In the past, I’ve strongly recommended against all-in-one solutions.
By all-in-one, I mean any single program, package, or “security suite” that claims to do everything: firewall, anti-spyware, anti-virus, and often much more all in a single package. What I hear from readers is that these types of suites often have problems or actually cause more problems than other alternatives.
That strong recommendation against continues – I’ve not changed my mind.
With one exception: Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE).
In a sense, it’s not really an all-in-one solution like the others. It has both anti-virus and anti-spyware, but that’s it. It’s not trying to shovel in all sorts of other features that you don’t need and that often only serve to destabilize your computer. MSE isn’t trying to compete against other products with long feature lists – and as a result, it wins.
Not long ago, MSE came under fire by rating lower than some other security packages in a test published online. That happens almost every anti-malware package. It’s actually difficult to find consistent test results that point to any single, clear winner. In the case of this most recent test, I believe that the user actually had to explicitly ignore warnings presented by MSE and explicitly allow malicious software to be run.
My recommendation stands. MSE remains a solid and free anti-virus and anti-spyware package with minimal system impact that should be appropriate for almost anyone.
This post is excerpted with permission from Leo Notenboom.
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