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Tips about computer security, online safety, and privacy

Do I have to pay for antivirus software?

Do I have to pay for antivirus software?

  • Comments 25

Jo Anne writes:

I received a message that said that my Microsoft security software is turned off and I am not protected. What can I do? I even ran the scan. The warning says that I can buy antivirus protection, but I don’t want to pay for it.

If your computer is running Windows, you do not need to pay for antivirus software. To help fight both viruses and spyware, you can download Microsoft Security Essentials at no cost for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

First make sure to uninstall any other antivirus software—whether you installed it or it came preinstalled on your computer. If you choose to install other antivirus software on your computer, Microsoft Security Essentials will be disabled.

Windows Defender is an antivirus feature in Windows 8 PCs and tablets that replaces Microsoft Security Essentials. It runs in the background and notifies you when you need to take specific action.

Watch out for rogue security software

The message that Jo Anne received might have been a genuine warning from Microsoft, but it sounds like it could be a rogue security software scam. Rogue security software (also known as "scareware") claims to offer security benefits but actually provides limited or no security and may even lure you into participating in fraudulent transactions.

As you surf the web, you might see legitimate looking pop-up windows containing "updates" or "alerts" that say you need to click to install the software, accept recommended updates, or remove unwanted viruses or spyware. When you click, rogue security software downloads to your computer.

For examples of rogue security software, see our Real vs. Rogue Facebook app.

  • I have Microsoft Security Essentials installed on my XP PC and the icon in my system tray is green with check mark.  However, the system tray also has a Windows Security Alert (red shield with x).  What is up with that?

  • I am telephoned at least 4/5 times a day by IT Technical Help who tell me that my computer is throwing up warning signs on the server. If I don't get these warnings sorted out then my computer is at risk of crashing and leaving all my information open to anyone's use.  They have offered me Microsoft software for £169.99, then for £69.99 when I told them that I was a pensioner and didn't have the money to pay.  Are they telling me the truth?

  • Microsoft security Essentials states "CANNOT COMPLETE INSTALLATION of MSE" with no explanation

    WHAT IS the POINT of THIS?

  • The anti-virus says it is off in the security center, I have no other virus protection but I can't get the anti-virus turned on.  How do I get  the system on?

  • @ Judith Stevens- The calls are fake. Microsoft never calls unless you have contacted them first.

  • i have microsoft s. e. installed and it works, the green flag is on. when i do the system check it says it does not detect a virus protection program..and if i have one to change the settings.. whats up with this..

  •, that's nonsense.  To be sure everything on your computer is ok, check with a local company.  These phone calls are almost assuredly scams.

  • I have a virus on my computer and Security Essentials can't fix the problem am trying to take the program off my computer so that I can install Norton security. Why can't I delate Security Essentials it seems locked in?????

  • Microsoft security Essentials , shield is red, and tells me that the virus protection is out of date is this true or a scare ware, is this true or a lie

  • i am experiencing the same as judith.  i actually made the transaction. They attempted to delete alot of my programs and I stop the procedure.  Every download performed in claims of security was downloaded completely free from the internet... chrome, ccleaner, ms essentials, ninite essentials. They were so rude.

  • my computor keeps sending a message that my Hardware excelleration was not working  that my video card after upgrading from windows EX P  to windows 7 how can I fix this problem. I have gone to several sites microsoft, intell, dell. Help

  • The problem with Microsoft Security Essentials is actually REALLY simple :D

    All you need to do is open MSE and navigate to "Settings" tab.  Where it has the "Real-Time Protection" just uncheck that box!  Now both MSE and Windows will tell you there is a problem.  Restart your machine, then open MSE and click the big red button to fix the issue.  Now both Windows and MSE is on the same page.

    Even tho Windows says its not working it actually is.  This is a problem with Windows XP and Vista (if updates are not installed).  It just simply has a hard time actively monitoring the newer software since they have came out.  Got to think XP is over 10 years old, and anything made in the past 4 years has been developed to work with Windows 7.  So these kinds of setbacks are to be expected.

    If it can not complete the install, Colin, then it is due to either A) your system time is not set correctly.  Be sure to check the date, time, as well as time zone settings. B) Other updates are pending.  Please use Windows Update to install ALL of the latest updates first C) a 3rd party program is preventing it from installing (sorry cant help you there cause that is basically all on you) D) your copy of Windows is not Genuine.

  • I have not used Anti Virus on any PC ever since Windows 7 SP1. I typically scan my PC's a least a couple times a month since that time with online malware scanners. I have yet to have any PC found to have malware on it.

    But I consider myself very careful and informed about the exploits going on and like the latest Java exploits I quickly disabled or uninstalled Java. The stronger security then a Anti virus program is a well informed user. The really bad stuff tends to get past security programs anyway. As any security expert can tell you. Any security suite can only prevent around 25% of malware. To me that's not enough security to bother with it running on my PC's.

  • I have XP on my computer. The red shield is on saying I am not protected against viruses. The green MSE is up to date.  I have a failed secuity update which states "Microsoft NET Framework 1.1sp1 on Windows XP, , Windows Vista & W. Server 2008 x 86 (KB2742597) which will not update. Error code Ox 643.

    Also, every day I have an error report for:Files:NDP1.1sp1 KB2742597.x96 wrapper.log version.txt.

    What must I do to correct this?  Is it necessary to take the computer to be fixed???????

  • I am using Microsoft Security Essentials and the software that I installed tells me that  Microsoft Security Essentials version is outdated and the is a new version. How do I upgrade to the new version?

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