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  1. #1
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    TOP STORY
    Two great security tools get free updates


    By Fred Langa
    Two outstanding security apps, Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 and Secunia Personal Software Inspector 2.0, are now available.

    The original versions of these programs were great, but the new versions are even better; they're must-have software — and they're still free!




    The full text of this column is posted atWindowsSecrets.com/2011/01/13/01(opens in a new window/tab).
    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by Tracey Capen; 2011-02-09 at 16:44.

  2. #2
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    The segment on Secunia 2.0 mentioned having it perform the updates rather than having individual updates running. However unless one goes though each and every installed application on a computer and discover how to turn off the automatic update option, you wind up with having Secunia running in the background all the time duplicating the update checking. The update process is still not automatic and requires end user intervention just like the normal update method for flash and java for example.

  3. #3
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    Re the Secunia PSI version 2: Fred's article says "Like the original, PSI 2.0 scans your installed software and builds a database of application version numbers. It then compares what it found on your system to Secunia's central database of latest-available version numbers." This implies that he database contains the most up to date version numbers, but in my experience this is not exactly true. The database contains the latest available version numbers which do not have security vulnerabilities, which is not quite the same thing. I recently ran the FileHippo update checker, which told me that version 2 of a particular program was available, where I had version 1 installed. On running the PSI, it said that version 1 of the same program was "up to date", and did not offer the new version. On querying this through the forums, I was told that the PSI is a "vulnerability checker" and not an update checker. It does not check for "updates that are made by vendors for bug fixes or cosmetic changes", and I take this to mean that if an installed version is not seen as insecure then the PSI will say it is up to date. Fred goes on to say that "PSI detects that you're running an out-of-date version", but that is not strictly true; seems like it really only detects if you are running an insecure version. Here's the thread reference: http://secunia.com/community/forum/thread/show/6928 .

  4. #4
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    The latest version also does not work on many XP systems - a known problem on the forums. In those cases we cannot update beyond v1.5.0.1 (although I have the latest edition quite happily running on my Vista machine).

  5. #5
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    I would be concerned about using the autoupdate feature. There are too many application updates out there that do not work correctly such as Adobe Flash Player. Secunia has a section for that app stating the update does not always remove the previous version and you wind up with multiple versions. It even has the path from Adobe where you can get a uninstaller designed for Flash. The normal add/remove from windows does not always remove previous versions cleanly.

    This is no fault with secunia but rather vendors that do not seem too concerned with people being able to uninstall their product. Many times I have had to use other uninstallers such as revo to remove the apps before installing the update.

    Autoupdate will probably work fine with about 90% of your installed apps but can really cause headaches if you blindly depend on the upgrade to take care of itself.

    I would like to see Secunia develop an autoupdate feature that allows users to pick certain apps they do not want to autoupdate.

    I love secunia as a tool to let me know when an application has been patched for security reasons. I will handle the actual update myself. I am not sure what other "enhancements" have been made but I will probably try it since I can turn off the autoupdate "feature".

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    I don't like the auto-update feature either. I ran Secunia's beta version that featured this auto-update feature and ended up having problems with flash. Not sure if it was stricly secunia's fault, most likely it wasn't, but whenever there was a new flash version, I had to provide permission to install and that created issues with the UAC. Somehow the dialog to request permission never showed, even if sometimes I managed to see consent.exe on the list of running processes. The dialog not showing while consent.exe running always ended up in a totally unresponsive Windows 7, which always required a hard reset to get out of it. Once I disabled the auto-update feature, this stopped occurring.

    Overall I like the features of the new version, even if I find in interface quite flaky and unresponsive, at times. On my Win7 x64, the graphs never show up. It's a small thing, compared to the benefits of getting reliable information on the security status of the apps I run.
    Rui
    -------
    R4

  7. #7
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    I can't agree on MSE 2.0 being the best free AV out there. I have a 6 yr old XP laptop. Around Christmas I heard about the MSE 2.0 version and I switched that machine from AntiVir to MSE. That was a big mistake. This machine is light on RAM (512M) but it has functioned acceptably. After installing MSE physical memory utilization had risen to over 400M with no other applications running and the machine was sluggish to the point of seem completely unresponsive at times. I rebooted it a couple times and gave it a couple days with no improvement. Using Process Explorer I discovered that MSE was using around 200M. (about 140M in private bytes.) I downloaded the latest version of AntiVir, uninstalled MSE and installed AntiVir and immediately the machine performed much better. And physical memory usage dropped to under 300M. Since then I have talked with a couple other people and their experience has been that under XP, it puts a significant load on the machine.

  8. #8
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    Hi Fred.

    I've been a follower of yours as a paid subscriber for longer than I can remember. I'm glad you're on board at Windows Secrets.

    I have been using AVG Free for quite some time and have found it to work very well especially the latest version. I also use Malware Bytes free which I update every morning and Super AntiSpyware paid edition. I also use Spybot and Adaware from time to time plus Ccleaner and three or four other similar programs occasionally.

    If I remove AVG and install Essentials will I get better protection than staying where I am now? I have been tempted in the past but wasn't sure if there would be any advantage.

    In regard to Secunia, I have used it for a long time first the free version and then the paid version. I agree that the new version is pretty slick. It has worked well for me so far.

  9. #9
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    I've been running Security Essentials version 1 on Vista Home Premium with no problems. Vista came installed on my Dell Inspiron 530. I downloaded version 2 from the Security Essentials website. Installed it. It said Windows was not genuine. Clicked the button it had to resolve the problem. A webpage appeared for a couple of seconds, then redirected to a search page. Security Essentials still claimed Windows was not genuine. Searched the Microsoft forums. Found some suggestions for changing permissions on the file data.dat, but my data.dat was in a different location and changing its permissions didn't help. Used System Restore to remove the update. System Restore is very slow, but it succeeded, and now I'm back to a working version 1.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Schlueter View Post
    I can't agree on MSE 2.0 being the best free AV out there. I have a 6 yr old XP laptop. Around Christmas I heard about the MSE 2.0 version and I switched that machine from AntiVir to MSE. That was a big mistake. This machine is light on RAM (512M) but it has functioned acceptably. After installing MSE physical memory utilization had risen to over 400M with no other applications running and the machine was sluggish to the point of seem completely unresponsive at times. I rebooted it a couple times and gave it a couple days with no improvement. Using Process Explorer I discovered that MSE was using around 200M. (about 140M in private bytes.) I downloaded the latest version of AntiVir, uninstalled MSE and installed AntiVir and immediately the machine performed much better. And physical memory usage dropped to under 300M. Since then I have talked with a couple other people and their experience has been that under XP, it puts a significant load on the machine.
    ]That's weird because I have it running on 2 Win 7 computers and it is using 157k (on x64 machine) and 166k (on a 32-bit machine). It suggests that there was some sort of conflict with your laptop.


    I should have said that I'm running v2.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Schlueter View Post
    I can't agree on MSE 2.0 being the best free AV out there. I have a 6 yr old XP laptop. Around Christmas I heard about the MSE 2.0 version and I switched that machine from AntiVir to MSE. That was a big mistake. This machine is light on RAM (512M) but it has functioned acceptably. After installing MSE physical memory utilization had risen to over 400M with no other applications running and the machine was sluggish to the point of seem completely unresponsive at times. I rebooted it a couple times and gave it a couple days with no improvement. Using Process Explorer I discovered that MSE was using around 200M. (about 140M in private bytes.) I downloaded the latest version of AntiVir, uninstalled MSE and installed AntiVir and immediately the machine performed much better. And physical memory usage dropped to under 300M. Since then I have talked with a couple other people and their experience has been that under XP, it puts a significant load on the machine.
    I agree with Kelly on using MSE 2.0 with XP, even with double the amount of RAM that Kelly has. MSE is a memory hog and an even worse CPU hog. It often uses 80-90% of CPU even with the CPU usage limit set to max of 40%. Has anyone tested whether the CPU limit setting in MSE is actually working? My experience is the CPU limiter does not work during a scan.The problems are similar whether running a scan or just having real time protection turned on. Even with real time protection turned off, MSE still uses large amounts of memory. Not sure what MSE needs that memory for if MSE is doing nothing!!!

  12. #12
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    Fred Langa has again, as always, presented an excellent, easily understood, current article.
    Thank You
    Ron

  13. #13
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    Arrow

    You did a story on Microsoft Security Essentials In my opinion they all all the same except the name that is involved in the app, Anyway, Your readers are more that likely running to get theirs from MS, But the BAD thing about it is that it uses ALOT of memory in order to function. Microsoft is trying to find a way to LIMIT ones speed, Thats why there are other who if you run Microsoft's Security Essentials you will have a virus just for having another ANTI-Virus program on file, even if its not being used.Its funny how AVG does not see Microsoft Security Essentials as a threat, but Microsoft Security Essentials sees AVG as a virus. WHY??? Its not because it shouldn't be used its because Microsoft is trying to corner the market in O.S.
    So the next time you talk about a product as being pretty good take another GOOD look on its approach to not bogging down ones PC

  14. #14
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    I don't think MonopolySoft fixed it, but my biggest problem with MSE was the fact it didn't auto-update. If you shut your computer off for two or more days and then reboot, MSE was out of date. Now the interesting part. MSE would not try to update itself nor would it notify you it was out of date. You had to wait for Security Center to pop up and tell you MSE was out of date. Then you had to manually update MSE. I'm willing to bet MonopolySoft isn't smart enough to fix that bug.

  15. #15
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    If Microsoft Security Essentials is being offered as updates, this concerns me! I run Norton Internet Security 2011 in my Windows 7 laptop and Symantec Endpoint Protection on my XP Professional desktop. Both are exquisite and very complete security suites! I am concerned that these Security Essentials updates will begin to interfere with the proper operation of these security suites. It has been my experience that these Microsoft updates have a nasty habit of messing with other peoples stuff, especially if it is better than theirs! Sorry but I pay for my security, I don't trust anything that's free. There is just to much stuff that the free stuff misses. I don't know how many times I've had to reinstall an entire computer because they were running free software which just couldn't cut it!I do not want one of these updates to overwrite the firewall I've paid good money for and unfortunately every security item I've gotten by accident from Microsoft has mucked with my installed security suite and I'm not about to go through all that again! I'm hoping that the Security Essentials is an optional update so I can chose not to download it! I'd rather stick with what I have, it's clearly way better!

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