How to Set Up and Install Free Windows Antivirus Software

By Jonathan Wylie

The Internet is awash with malicious malware that is designed to cause you the maximum amount of inconvenience it can, so it’s important that you have effective, up-to-date antivirus software installed on your home PC. One of the best options is Microsoft Security Essentials. This free Windows antivirus software runs seamlessly in the background and is a great way to ensure that you and your family are safe online. Here’s how to get it.

Go to the Microsoft Security Essentials website and download the correct version for your PC. This software will run on XP, Vista, and Windows 7 so click the operating system that you run on your computer.

[Unsure if you have a 32 or 64-bit operating system? Click the Start button, right-click on Computer, and then click Properties. Under the System subheading you will see 32 or 64-bit next to System type.]


Double-click the installation file and follow the prompts to complete the installation of Microsoft Security Essentials. After the program is installed for the first time it will likely look to download the latest virus definitions for its database. This won’t take long but it’s important, so just be patient.

The main program window has four tabs across the top. The default tab is Home and this gives you an overview of your current levels of protection. The second tab is the Update tab. Here you can see when the last updates were installed and check for new ones. You shouldn’t need to visit this tab very often though because Microsoft Security Essentials automatically downloads and installs the latest virus definitions by itself.

The third tab is the History tab. Here you can see any previous evidence of malicious software that was found on your computer. The final tab is the Settings tab. Here you can schedule scans at times that are convenient to you in order to keep your computer as safe as it can be.

Once you’ve tweaked the settings the way you want them, run a full scan of your computer. This will take some time, but it’s worth it to see if there are any viruses hiding away on your hard drive.

Is Microsoft Security Essentials the only free Windows antivirus software that is worth your time? No, but it is among the easiest to set up and maintain. If you’re looking for something else, try AVG Antivirus Free Edition, Avira Antivir Personal Free Edition, or avast! Free Antivirus.


Jonathan Wylie

Jonathan Wylie

Jonathan Wylie is the owner of The Education Technology Blog, a website dedicated to helping teachers advance the use of technology in the classroom. He is a teacher, husband, and proud father, but also works as a freelance writer for several online publications. Jonathan is originally from Scotland, but now lives and works in rural Iowa. He has a love for education, photography, computers, and just about any gadget that he can get his hands on.

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Posted in Technology on July 20th, 2011 | Permalink | Comments »
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