There’s a new anti-virus/anti-spyware product on the market. This one’s from
Microsoft and it’s free to anyone with a licensed copy of Windows. It’s called Microsoft Security Essentials. It replaced Microsoft’s fee-based One-Care software and was released September 29, 2009.
Why is this free, we all ask? Some think Microsoft is trying to make amends for its spotty history of delivering operating systems that continually need patching and updating. We’re all familiar now with ‘patch Tuesday’ – the second Tuesday of every month when there’s usually patches to be pushed out to users.
Some feel that since Microsoft developed the OS, they should take responsibility for providing the tools to keep us safe. The software seems to be working great on my system. It’s lean and fast. It installed in minutes, updated itself and did an initial scan of my computer.
I really like that it’s not bloated like Symantec & Norton. I refuse to run either of these on my systems. I have used both the free AVG and the fee-based Nod-32 by Eset. Both have worked well for me, but I decided to switch over to this product because to me it makes sense to have a security suite by the same people who made my OS.
Here’s a screen shot of a protected computer – green is good!
There are tabs to check out for fine-tuning your system. The settings tab has many options on it for configuring when, where and how to handle whatever the scan might find.
There aren’t a whole lot of reviews out yet, but here’s one by Computerworld that will give you a more technical, in-depth assessment of the software.
Use Bitlocker on a USB Drive
Bitlocker is a premium feature found only on Windows 7 Ultimate & Premium (it’s on higher-priced Vista systems too). It’s an easy-to-use encryption tool to encrypt your entire drive, an external drive or usb thumb drive.
For those of us who’ve downloaded Windows 7 for the free test drive, we all received the Ultimate version of Windows 7, which has Bitlocker installed on it.
For those of us who will be ‘downgrading’ to Home Premium, we should be able to put Bitlocker on any thumb or external drives now and it should continue to work. I haven’t been able to test this yet, but I have encrypted a thumb drive.
To encrypt a removable drive, insert it into your usb drive and then go to the Start button and type in Bitlocker, then manage bitlocker encryption. It takes several minutes to encrypt the drive, especially if it’s large. You will be prompted to enter and verify a password. It’s very important to save it to a file on your computer or print it out. When finished, then move files, folders, etc. over to the drive.
Now, you’ll want to verify that your data is encrypted. Take it to a different computer and try to access the thumb drive. You should get a notice that a password is needed.
I tried this with my encrypted drive on my daughter’s computer, running Vista (without Bitlocker), and I was able to enter in my password and view the files on it. Microsoft says that you can take the drive to a computer without Bitlocker, running either Vista or Windows 7 and enter your password and view your files. I haven’t tried it on an XP machine. I’ve read reviews of folks using the Beta Win 7 and this feature didn’t work, but it’s working with the RC version of Windows 7.
Bitlocker can be turned off if you decide not to use this feature later on. If you routinely carry thumb drives around with your or customer data, why not take advantage of this free feature. If the drive is lost or left somewhere, at least it won’t be accessible to prying eyes.