Microsoft Security Essentials - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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Microsoft Security Essentials - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
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twospirit
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February 20, 2010 - 4:24 pm
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Hi Y'All. Its been near 6 months since I have logged into the forums. Rebuilding a System with its' sometime problems, one of which not being able to log into Forums has been a bummer. Thanks to Dave for helping me fix the problem of not being able to log in. Anyway it is nice to be back.

I would like to present you with my experience using Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). It is an experience of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

Near 4 months ago it was necessary to install a new anti virus application. My old one, begin to give me a large number of False Positives. While I was trying out various anti virus programs, it was recommended that I try Microsoft Security Essentials.

The Good: Easy install. Small Foot Print. Updates Automatically. Does a Daily Scan. It is so quiet that I found myself checking to see if I still had the Icon in my Task Tray. Yes, it did flag a few anti-virus.

The Bad: After MSE was up and running,I begin to experience instances when my CPU would max out and cause a temporary Freeze up. These freeze ups, with the CPU maxing out can/could occur once per day. Actually, my experience was 3 times per day. Duration being 2 to 5 minutes.

Eventually, I was able to determine that the High CPU use was being caused by "MsMpEng.exe". A search using AnVir Task Manager revealed the following:
1. Processes - MsMpEng.exe
2. Applications - Antimalware Service Executable
3. Startup - Services: Microsoft Antimalware Service
4. C:ProgramFilesMicrosoft Security EssentialsMsMpEng.exe

Well, MSE has Antimalware Service, however, it is a BIG CPU Hog. But there is more on this subject. I managed to Goggle up a MVP Microsoft Forum that was addressing the issues I just provided. However, in that forum I found out that this problem has been around several years. To be exact this problem popped up after Microsoft Purchased the Giant Defender Package and did nothing about it. Thus, Microsoft Defender, Windows Live, Microsoft Security Essentials, the New Windows Live Mail which is in Win 7 all have this problem. That is NOT good.

I sifted through all of the messages in that forum, and a recurrent theme from Microsoft was that they were not aware of the problem but had opened a Ticket. After being Stonwalled for a nearly 3 years, the last message in this Forum, dated around 12-30-2009 said that Microsoft did not believe there was a problem, canceled the trouble ticket and, CLOSED the Forum.

Well, Bad has gone to Worse than bad. Microsoft has washed their hands on this issue and if you are going to use the product, you just will have to put up with the Maxed Out CPU/Freeze situation. I was hoping that the CPU Hog Antimalware service would protect just in case. Well, it gets really ugly now.

The Ugly: If I was going to continue using MSE, it meant living with the CPU & Freeze thingies'. I decided I would take some time to really search for an Anti-virus application that would meet my needs.

Then the real ugly showed up. Three weeks ago, I begin experiencing some even more invasive problems. When I tried to open certain applications, especially those that have to do with my computers well being, everything slowed to a crawl and in some cases the application I was trying to open would not open. As the day went on, more and more of my applications were acting funny. It finally dawned on me that something else was running my computer instead of me.

Strictly by luck, two days before the Real Ugly raised its head, I had read a blurb in "How To Geek" dealing with a new and very dastardly Malware/Trojan/Super worm that takes over your computer and when it has full control, holds your computer hostage. It is called,"Security Tool".

Perplexed, I thought if this is Malware why didn't my MSE Antimalware Service intercept it. I tried to get in MSE to check my logs, but I was blocked. And, Why did my Windows Firewall not block it? The Maleware Blitz-ed right through both of them.

However, I hand an ace in the hole, so to speak. Many months ago I had installed the free version of Malwarebyte's Anti-malware. I had never activated any of the auto capabilities. I manually performed a Complete Scan. Several hours later the scan completed. There were 3 results involving "Security Tool" and two results indicating a Download File called, "File and Folder Backup". As I worked further into this,it was evident that Security Tool had piggy backed into my computer via a download of "File and Folder Backup".

Malwarebyte

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David Hartsock
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February 21, 2010 - 10:26 am
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Very interesting read, Twospirit! I'm glad you've worked through the problem and hope you have better luck with Comodo, though I would suggest you have a look at Eset Smart Security before you jump on another solution.

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Mindblower
Montreal, Canada
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February 22, 2010 - 1:19 pm
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An Excellent and well documented posting on trusting M$. Hope you're able to steer others away from the tragic experience. I've been staying clear of M$ security products for that very reason - you cannot trust 'em to protect you; something of a contradiction if you consider they make the o/s we use, Mindblower!

"Light travels faster than sound;
That is why some people seem bright until you hear them speak"

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kevkat8
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February 22, 2010 - 1:23 pm
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I have been useing MSE for a "few" months now and find it to be a great little AV program. No problems have showed up yet that I can trace back to MSE. Will continue to use it but will keep a close eye on it in the future.

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Jim Hillier
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February 22, 2010 - 3:20 pm
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Hey Kevkat (and all) - I have MSE installed on a laptop running Windows 7 Pro, no issues to date. So far I've found it to be light on resources and very effective, although I do not surf around dangerous sites at all.

MSE was recommended by a mate who runs his own computer store, he has been using it on clients' machines to help with malware removal and swears it is above average. Seeing how he has been working with these types of programs on a day to day basis and over many years, you've got to take[i:1830h3b1] some[/i:1830h3b1] notice!

Reviews of MSE are also overwhelmingly favourable, from users and 'experts' alike. I wouldn't place MSE ahead of AntiVir or Avast but would have no problem recommending it to anyone looking for an easy to use AV which is light on resources. At this stage, I would certainly rate MSE above AVG.

I know there are plenty who agree with our good friend Mindblower and I concede the point. I am not generally a Microsoft knocker though and approach their software the same as any other....with an open mind.

Twospirit - Good article mate!! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Although I've been using Windows Defender for many years without any issues, there are plenty of reports, on forums and the like, about this same problem. The process is associated with Windows Defender, Live One Care and MSE. Seems the problem can occur mainly when these programs scan their own process and the cure is to include msmpeng.exe in that application's list of exclusions.

Not sure why this issue should be apparent on some machines yet many others can run the software successfully for years without ever experiencing it. Maybe a conflict or incompatibility.

Anyway, enjoyed the read,
Cheers....JIM

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clifnotes
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February 22, 2010 - 7:35 pm
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I tried Microsoft Security Essentials for several weeks with no problems - XP & Win7. However, it's been so long since I've had any virus or spyware problems that I've decided to opt for a minimal system impact rather than a robust shield.

Based on what I've read, I am now using Immunet Protect, which is a cloud AV system. I'm very happy with it.
You can see my review of it here:
http://techie-buzz.com/utilites/immunet ... ility.html

If you would rather have more speed than more protection, I can recommend it with no reservations.

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David Hartsock
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February 22, 2010 - 8:35 pm
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Thanks for the info, Clif. I find the "cloud" solutions interesting, but I'm also scared of the "cloud".

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Jim Hillier
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February 22, 2010 - 10:33 pm
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Hey Clif - Thanks for the heads up on Immnunet mate....very interesting.

Seeing how Immunet is clearly reliant on data gleaned from its users computers, can it really provide any significant protection until (if/when) that user base is seriously substantial?

I see the Immunet project is the baby of former Symantc executive, Oliver Friedrichs. He has openly stated that there will also, eventually, be a paid version available. Wonder what 'extras' that might include or, conversely, what features might be cut (or limited) in the free version.

Mr Friedrichs is quoted as saying..."Immunet will pursue a freemium business model".

Freemium???? Now there's a nice portmanteaux.....apparently it's the new buzzword for products which are available in both free and premium (paid for) versions. Better add that one to the old dictionary......LOL

Cheers mate.....JIM

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Jim Hillier
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February 25, 2010 - 12:31 pm
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Here are very recent test results from 'Anti-Malware Test Lab'...they speak for themselves:

[u:ahzjbr95]MALWARE DETECTION AND REMOVAL TEST:[/u:ahzjbr95]
Dr.Web Anti-Virus 5.00 (81%)
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2010 (81%)
Avast! Professional Edition 4.8 (63%)
[i:ahzjbr95][b:ahzjbr95]Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 (63%)[/b:ahzjbr95][/i:ahzjbr95]
Norton AntiVirus 2010 (56%)
F-Secure Anti-Virus 2010 (44%)

FAILED:
Panda Antivirus 2010 (38%)
AVG Anti-Virus & Anti-Spyware 9.0 (31%)
Avira AntiVir PE Premium 9.0 (31%)
Sophos Anti-Virus 9.0 (31%)
Trend Micro Antivirus plus Antispyware 2010 (31%)
BitDefender Antivirus 2010 (25%)
Eset NOD32 Antivirus 4.0 (25%)
McAfee VirusScan Plus 2010 (19%)
Comodo Antivirus 3.13 (13%)
Outpost Antivirus Pro 2009 (13%)
VBA32 Antivirus 3.12 (6%)

Also, MSE was the only free product to be pass the 'zero day threat detection test'. It is ranked third (Bronze award) in that category alongside Eset Smart Security.

I realise these tests can often be subjective and the results somewhat unreliable. Even allowing for those vagaries though, MSE has done quite well.

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gazza
SE Queensland, Australia
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February 26, 2010 - 12:17 am
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I have been using MSE for a few months now on XP home and Pro, Vista Premium and Business and Win7 Pro and Ultimate.
I support these OS at home and at centre where I tutor in using PCs. So far non of the problems which two spirit has experienced have affected any of the PCs.

twospirit thanks for the information, it has provided an alert in case we experience similar issues.

None of the PCs have had virus or malware issues since we installed MSE.

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. (Winston Churchill)

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Jim Hillier
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February 26, 2010 - 2:31 am
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Hey Gazza - Thanks for the comments mate....much appreciated!

The more people who share their experiences the better idea we all get of how various programs are performing.

Cheers now....JIM

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Ken Harthun
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March 11, 2010 - 10:41 am
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Lots of good information here, folks! Let me put in my dime's worth.

As I am always testing and researching, I have rarely kept the same anti-malware suite on my computer for any length of time. I did have a bad resource-hogging experience with MSE when it first came out, but I have since put it on several XP and Windows7 PCs with no issues.

I am currently running Panda's Cloud Antivirus, but since I just had to wipe and reload two systems that were running it, I can no longer recommend it.

Having nearly ten years' experience with all things Symantec (including Norton), little of it good, I discourage anyone from using any brand of their anti-malware products.

I use Dr. Web and Kaspersky both for my bootable rescue drives and can't say enough good things about them. In fact, Dr. Web CureIt! is one dandy product. If you don't believe me, try it.

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Chad Johnson
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March 24, 2010 - 9:28 pm
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I was setting up a new computer the other day and decided to give MSE a run for its money.

I downloaded it from Chrome. Easy.
Double clicked the install. Easy.
Got a message to run this software, Windows Genuine Advantage had to be installed. --CANCEL!

As I've mentioned to many people, if a company insists on treating me like a pirate, I will not use their software. So...no MSE for me.

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wawadave
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June 2, 2010 - 11:28 pm
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I used the free ms security on my computer twice every day it attacked my graphics art program:Bryce. And killed it. after several days i removed ms and reinstalled comodo.

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grr
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June 2, 2010 - 11:35 pm
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I used the free ms security on my computer twice every day it attacked my graphics art program:Bryce. And killed it. after several days i removed ms and reinstalled comodo.[/quote:17gp9pyp]

I would recommend you Avast Free. Grab it from here:
http://www.avast.com/free-anti.....s-download

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