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I have instructions to install Microsoft Security Essentials.
The pc already has McAfee up and running.
Should I install the Microsoft product too or do they do the same thing (firewall, email protection, etc)?
Will there be any conflicts or problems if I have both installed?

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Who has instructed you to do this? Do they know you already have McAfee installed? –  music2myear Apr 18 '12 at 17:42

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Installing multiple anti-malware solutions will do more harm than good. I highly doubt any anti-malware vendor would recommend or support that.

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Windows already has a firewall by default since XP Service Pack 2. Depending on your McAfee product (add this information to the question please) you may have an additional firewall product in McAfee.

Having more than one AV software program running on your computer at any given time is not a good idea. McAfee requires a subscription and annual payments, Microsoft Security Essentials is free. MSE is generally regarded as "good enough" in most AV software reviews. I've always found McAfee to be bloated and generally low quality.

Personally, I would recommend uninstalling McAfee and installing Microsoft Security Essentials and making sure the windows firewall is turned on (in the Control Panel). However, if you've just recently payed for another year of McAfee, you may want to wait until your subscription to that has expired before removing the McAfee software and installing MSE.

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I support use of MSE. Very good AND free. Anti-virus software, to be effective, has to hook in very deep in the operating system. Who better than Microsoft to know how best to do that. +1. –  Xavierjazz Apr 18 '12 at 18:48

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