If you are like almost everybody else, and you’re reading this article, then you have a computer and use it on the Internet. In using your computer on the Internet you expose yourself to viruses, spyware, and other malware. This malicious software intends to infect your computer to steal your personal information, try to sell you stuff with pop-ups, or just slow your computer down and cause mischief.
For the longest time the only option to protect your computer was to purchase antivirus software such as McAfee or Symantec for a yearly subscription fee. More recently antivirus programs like “AVG antivirus” and Avast have offered to pay for full-featured versions as well as free versions that have fewer features. Now Microsoft has finally created their own antivirus program called “Microsoft Security Essentials” that offers comprehensive protection against spyware, viruses, worms, trojans, and other malicious software. It’s very easy to use and integrates with “Windows Update” to download and install the latest definition files. To install Microsoft security essentials open “Internet Explorer” or another web browser like Firefox or Chrome, and go to Google.com.
In the search field type in “Microsoft Security Essentials”. This link may change over time, but for now it is “http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/products/security-essentials”. Click on this link. On the “Microsoft Security Essentials” home page, click the “Free Download” button. You will be prompted to either save or run the file. Click “run”. After the download finishes if you have “User Account Control” turned on, you’ll be asked if it’s okay for this program to make changes to your computer. Click “Yes” on the “Welcome to Microsoft Security Essentials Installation Wizard” screen.
Click the “Next” button. On the “Microsoft Security Essentials Software License Terms”, read the license agreement, and then click the “I accept” button. On the “Join the Customer Experience Improvement Program”, click the “Join the Customer Experience Improvement Program”, this will send some basic information to Microsoft to help them improve the product, and click the “Next” button. On the “Optimize Security” screen, leave the defaults, and click “Next” on the “Ready to Install Microsoft Security Essentials” page. Click the “Install” button. On the “Completing the Microsoft Security Essentials installation Wizard” screen it will tell you if you have successfully completed the installation or not. By default the “scan my computer for potential threats after getting the latest updates” is checked. Unchecked this as we’ll do this manually, and click the “Finish” button.
After the installation is finished its first step is to connect to the Microsoft servers and download the latest definition update files. The definition files provide information to Microsoft Security Essentials on how to detect and remove all known viruses. Once the definition updates finish installing it brings you to the home screen of the Microsoft Security Essentials window. This is the main window of the newly installed application. Notice in the bottom right of the screen in the system tray that there is a new green icon with a white check. This is the Microsoft Security Essentials application that will monitor your system at all times. If it’s green everything is good, if it changes color to red there is a problem that needs attention. When the application is closed you can open it again by double clicking on this icon.
Click on the “Settings” tab. By default it is set to run a scheduled scan on my computer on Sunday night at 2 AM. It is set to run a “quick scan”. Let’s change this to a “full scan”. A full scan scans every single file where as a quick scan only scans the most commonly used files. Make sure that the time set for the scan is when the computer is going to be on, and if possible not in use. Change the default time as needed. Click on the “save changes” button. On the “User Account Control” window that pops up click the “yes” button. To allow Microsoft Security Essentials to make changes to your system, click on the “history” tab. Any threats detected over time will show on this screen. Click on the “update” tab. You’ll get the latest definition updates once a day. If you want to update manually, just click on the “update” button. Back, to the home tab. Let’s run a full scan on our system by clicking the radio button next to “full” and click the “scan now” button.
Depending on how many files you have on your system the scan could take quite some time. Now that the scan is complete I’m going to run a test virus to show you how to remove a problem if it is detected. You do not need to follow this part. I will browse to www.EICAR.org. Click on the “download anti-malware test file” link. Scroll down and select the text in the box, right-click, and select copy. Minimize everything, right-click on the desktop, new “Journal Document”. This will be changed so it really doesn’t matter what file type is selected.
Rename “testvirus.net”. Click the “yes” button to confirm you want to change the file extension. Right-click and select “edit”. Right-click and paste. Click the file menu to save. Close the window. Now without even having to run the file Microsoft Security Essentials has detected it as a threat. Click the “clean computer” button. We can see the EICAR test file here, the action is to remove it. Once a file is successfully removed click the close button..