To compare the protection strength of Security Essentials to that other free and paid antiviruses, you can refer to AV-Test's website for its latest testing results. Those results, at this writing, show that Security Essentials provides great malware repair and removal: placing third, just behind Bitdefender and Kaspersky. But the program's results for malware detection are much worse: It placed 21st in a field of 22.
Additional Free Antivirus Options
If you'd like to save some money, but prefer to use some other program, you have quite a few options. Again, I'll refer to our roundup review from last April, which evaluated seven free antivirus suites. Here are the top four you might consider using:
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition: Though it had the lowest detection rate of the top four free antivirus programs with a 98.7% detection rate against known malware (Avast, Panda, and Avira finished with rates of 99.1%, 99.9%, and 99.7%, respectively), it handily outperformed Security Essentials (which finished with a detection rate of 97%). And though it wasn't as good at completely removing malware as Security Essentials (66.7% versus 80%), it was the only antivirus to disable 100% of detected malware; Security Essentials finished at 93% on this measure. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition also tied Panda Cloud Antivirus for the top rate of blocking brand-new threats, at 85.7%, whereas Security Essentials was at 71.4%.
Avast Free Antivirus: Avast's freebie provided strong detection of known malware samples, at 99.1%. Its rate of completely removing malware (67%) fell short of Security Essentials' rate (80%) and the two programs delivered matching 93% rates for disabling active malware. Avast Free Antivirus did provide better blocking of real-world malware, achieving a 78.6% rate, compared to Security Essentials' 71.4%.
Panda Cloud Antivirus: This tool provided the second highest protection against known malware samples overall at 99.9%, compared to 97% by Security Essentials. Though Panda's malware repair percentage was among the lowest in the group of seven, it tied with AVG for the best performance at fully blocking brand-new threats, turning in a rate of 85.7%, versus Security Essentials' mark of 71.4%.