John from Toronto:

I have windows 7 home premium.I use Microsoft security essentials. Do I still need an anti virus? Thank you in advance.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free program that you can download for your Windows PC. 

In test results conducted by AVTest an independent IT security company, it scored OK, but not great. Security Essentials ranked 9 0ut of 10 systems tested, but that score isn’t as bad as it sounds. It still detected 59 out of 60 instances of malware, removed 53 out of 60 malware components and scored 88% on total system repair.

Essentials also detected all of the viruses thrown its way and managed to complete remove 26 out of 30.

Security Essentials was tested along with Avast, AGV, Avira, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes and Norton. The good news is that all of the programs did an acceptable job of protecting your computer.

But some did a better job than Microsoft Security Essentials. According to AVTest, Malwarebytes, Bitdefender and Kaspersky did the best job among the security suites they tested. Though they say that everything they tested, including Microsoft Security Essentials, did okay.

Microsoft does regularly update the security definitions for Security Essentials, but they also share this same information with third-party security providers and it looks like some of these programs do a better job of implementing the clean-up than Security Essentials.

It’s a little like the difference between having one lock on your door and adding an extra deadbolt for protection. It’s certainly not a bad idea to consider moving up to an added layer of defense for your computer. In addition to an anti-virus, it’s always a good idea to have malware protection.

Just a reminder to Windows users that while Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 can be protected by Security Essentials or third-party security software, there is no protection for Windows XP. You can clean off previously known threats, but there are no fixes coming from Microsoft for new threats.

~ Cynthia