Microsoft Security Essentials vs. Top Third-Party Antivirus Tools

Check our top-choices list and protect your device

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Key notes

  • Our antivirus list will guide you to choose the perfect solution for your device.
  • If you’re looking for an extra security layer, check out our options.
  • We chose both free and premium antivirus to assure all the features you’re looking for.
  • You should also try an antivirus solution that comes with a firewall and VPN.
Microsoft Security Essentials vs. top third-party antivirus tools
ESET HOME comes with all the security tools that you may ever need to protect your data and privacy, including:
  • Anti-theft support
  • Banking-level encryption
  • Advanced digital threat protection

Microsoft Security Essentials is the built-in security solution developed and offered by Microsoft for business and personal purposes on older OS versions.

This is the basic antivirus software that can be used on Windows 7 for protecting your data and the actual firmware against malware attacks.

However, the Microsoft Security Essentials features lack some important capabilities when discussing web browsing protection or malware database, which means that depending on your own needs, you can find better alternatives.

Well, in that respect, during the following review we will compare Microsoft Security Essentials with some of the best third-party antivirus programs.

The top antiviruses that are currently available will be always in the development stage.

That means that specialized developers are working on finding the best security solutions for your business or for your personal Windows 10 system.

That doesn’t mean Microsoft isn’t trying to do its best for improving its security solution, but sometimes it will be better to choose an external (usually more specialized) service.

So, do you really need Microsoft Security Essentials?

If you’re running Windows 10, the answer is no. Windows Defender already provides real-time protection and you don’t need to install Microsoft Security Essentials as well.

Keep in mind that running more than one antivirus solution at a time may trigger various technical glitches. So, do avoid that.

On the other hand, if you’re still running Windows 7, you can install Microsoft Security Essentials to keep cyber-threats at bay.

As Microsoft explains:

Windows Defender for Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, and Windows 10 provides built-in protection against malware. You can’t use Microsoft Security Essentials, but you don’t need to—Windows Defender is already included and ready to go.

If you’re looking to protect a PC with an older version of running Windows 7, you can use Microsoft Security Essentials to provide comprehensive malware protection that will help guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It provides free* real-time protection for your home or small business PCs.

Thus, below we will try to outline the most important differences between these top antiviruses and antimalware programs and the default Microsoft Security Essentials platform.

Hopefully, based on this review, you will be able to choose wisely the antivirus that best suits your needs.


Microsoft Security Essentials vs. top third-party antiviruses

Microsoft Security Essential vs. ESET HOME Security Essential

ESET HOME Security Essential is a top solution if you have a modest PC configuration because it’s a light solution and has great Windows integration.

The difference between ESET HOME Security Essential and Microsoft Security Essential is pretty big in favor of the third-party solution but that is a paid one.

Both are on par when it comes to system resource consumption and although the Microsoft tool is already integrated, the ESET program is also extremely easy to install and use.

The bottom line is that ESET HOME Security Essential will offer a lot more sophisticated protection than the embedded Microsoft tool.

Let’s see what are its key features:

  • Minimal power usage
  • Easy to install, update, and even renew the subscription
  • Multiple platform compatibility
  • One account for all your devices and computers
  • Privacy protection against password theft
  • Tracking and locating your computer in case of device theft

ESET HOME Security Essential

For a reasonable budget, you will protect all your devices by using this trusted solution.
Free Trial Visit Website

Microsoft Security Essential vs. Bitdefender

antivirus web filtering

Bitdefender is one of the most appreciated antivirus solutions out there. The software is developed in Romania and was first released in 2011.

Since then, the devs managed to extend the actual platform and bring new security features that can protect your devices regardless of what you usually do on a daily basis.

It offers a wide range of feature, not only in term of anti – virus scanning but also VPN security, online banking protection and Parental control.

But not only, Bitdefender actively scans every file and email attachment immediately after you access them and it blocks every malicious file before you could even download it.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Web filtering technology
  • Protects your Wi-Fi connection
  • Online banking protection
  • Password manager
  • Anti-phishing and Anti-fraud

Bitdefender Security Essential

If you want the best security against all Internet threats, Bitdefender is your best bet.
Check price Visit website

Microsoft Security Essential vs. Avira

Avira is maybe the best free alternative for Microsoft Security Essential. Unlike the other reviewed third-party antivirus programs, it is offering decent features even if you choose to download its free version.

The antivirus has a good score if we observe the latest AV tests so you can rely on the scan results that you will receive.

It will grant your browsing protection and your privacy all the time and you can customize its main scan engine.

For example, you can set the resources that will be used during certain scans and you can play with different add-ons. Its interface can be easily customized but it has a relatively intimidating user interface.

However, thanks to the tweaks that are available the antivirus can smoothly run even on low-end configurations.

Let’s see Avira’s top features to consider:

  • Firewall and VPN included
  • Extremely easy to use thanks to its friendly interface
  • Constantly good scores on the antivirus tests
  • Customizable search engine


The free version of Avira will still offer greater protection than the embedded Microsoft solution.
Free trial Visit website

Microsoft Security Essential vs. Kaspersky Internet Security

Kaspersky is another antivirus program that ranks high in AV tests. It is a light antimalware platform that can offer full security protection for your Windows 10 system.

Similar to Bitdefender, for full protection, you have to purchase the product; once more, you can choose from three different paid plans depending on what you plan to do on your computer.

Kaspersky is cheaper than Bitdefender but lacks some features and ranks a little bit lower in the latest AV tests.

However, it is lighter and still has a better antivirus database compared with what you get with the default Windows Security Essential software.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Secures your online banking process
  • Security for kids
  • Secure passwords manager
  • File backup & encryption

Kaspersky Internet Security

Keep your device secured and safe from any kind of cyber threats with the Kaspersky antivirus solution.
Free Trial Visit Website

Microsoft Security Essential vs. Norton

Among basic security features, Norton provides an extra 25 GB of secure cloud storage where you can add your personal files and data in order to increase the security settings for these selected files.

The antivirus also grants backups for your images, videos, and other similar packages and secures your banking initiatives, and protects the browser experience for your kids.

You can choose from 4 different pricing plans and you can also download a free version, but in that case, you will get only minimal protection.

However, the Norton AV tests are once more ranking higher than Microsoft Security Essential which means that with this third-party security solution you can better secure your Windows 10 system.

Other key features you might want to know about:

  • Anti-spyware, antivirus, ransomware, and malware protection
  • Firewall
  • Password manager
  • Dark web monitoring
  • PC cloud backup


An antivirus program with high detection ranking that offers anti-spyware, ransomware, and malware protection.
Check Price Visit Website

Microsoft Security Essential vs. Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes will find infected files even when other antivirus programs will fail.

This is an anti-malware, anti-ransomware, and anti-exploit software that can successfully remove almost any type of virus and malware which tries or already managed to infect your files.

So, you should use Malwarebytes when everything else isn’t efficient enough.

From this perspective, it is way better than Microsoft Security Essential, though in this case, we are not discussing a classic antivirus program but specialized antimalware.

Other key features include:

  • Threat scan
  • Phishing and malicious URL protection
  • Remote or local remediation
  • Command-line interface
  • Dissolvable agent


A specialized antivirus program that helps you totally remove any type of virus and malware that can affect your PC.
Check Price Visit Website

Microsoft Security Essential vs. McAfee

McAfee is still working closely with Microsoft even if now Windows Defender is the built-in and default antivirus solution.

If installed correctly, McAfee will automatically disable Windows Defender from your computer; otherwise, you will have to do this process manually as the programs cannot properly work together.

Overall, McAfee offers better protection than Microsoft Security Essential with better results when AV testing is initiated.

McAfee features more options even though it isn’t offering too many customizations.

Take a look at other key features of McAfee:

  • Firewall
  • VPN
  • Parental control
  • Home network analyzer
  • Anti-spam


Keep your device safeguarded with McAfee’s various useful protection features.
Check Price Visit Website
antivirus old pc

Avast Free Antivirus has Email Shield, Behaviour Shield, Auto sandbox, and far more configuration options and lower resource usage.

And that’s only for the free version, which is way more than you can get with the default Microsoft Security Essential program.

From this perspective, Avast Free Antivirus is comparable with Avira and maybe with AVG, another antivirus that offers sufficient features without purchasing the full program.

In that respect, AVG and Avast Free Antivirus are now sharing the same platform as they are part of the same company.

Both have a light system-performance impact, which ensures a great and updated antivirus database (comparable with Bitdefender and Kaspersky), but AVG comes with fewer useful extra features than Avast.

Let’s see some of Avast Free Antivirus key features:

  • Advanced online protection
  • Do Not Disturb Mode
  • Constant app monitoring
  • Doesn’t interfere with your system or apps

Avast Free Antivirus

Great antivirus solution with light system-performance impact that ensures full protection of your PC.

The overall idea is not that Microsoft Security Essential is the worst antivirus solution to use.

The conclusions are more complex and there are better solutions than Microsoft Security Essential even when discussing free platforms, such as the already described Avira, Avast, or AVG platforms.

If you choose to test these antiviruses you will see that even the resources used are in most situations fewer, a strange aspect considering that Security Essential is part of the Windows system.

You can share your own observations with us through the comments field below. Also, stay close as we will keep you updated with further security solutions available for your Windows 10 computer.

More about the topics: Cybersecurity, Microsoft Security Essentials