Are there any solid data (i.e. benchmarks) comparing the performance of Windows Security Essentials with other anti-virus products?

In particular, I'm interested in how much overhead it imposes on a system when it's running.


4 Answers 4


It is very hard to benchmark this type of software, Sam; Why you don't see that type of analysis often. And when you do, close examination reveals the model used is probably not very adequate and leaves behind a lot of other variables that collectively impact the application performance. This becomes more evident when you remember, security software of any kind behaves on-event, and certain types of events may be more demanding than others and under different conditions.

Essentially you are left with only two points of interest; system resource usage and heuristics. The first is a no-brainer and you can find information on the many reviews of Security Essentials (google "microsoft security essentials review"). I can say without fear, Microsoft Security Essentials completely and utterly displaces suit-like solutions like McAffee or Norton's. It's far more benign on system resources, much esier to maintain and has a lot less impact on normal computer usage. (However this is not a product meant to compete with these solutions, since McAffee and Norton suits provide deep security facilities absent on Microsoft's Security Essentials. It however will compete with many current free software).

Heuristics is a lot more interesting as it describes the software in terms of its accuracy detection capabilities. This should always be your main concern, unless system resources are indeed at premium.

So to sum it up:

  • Reliable benchmarking is near impossible to achieve given the nature of the software.

  • System resources usage is measurable and becomes your next best option.

  • Heuristics and general protection is what should concern you for the most part.


Try the results from AV-Comparatives. This site provides a comparative study of many antivirus products.

  • @Ram: the site has the kind of information I'm looking for, but (not surprisingly) does not yet have Microsoft Security Essentials) Sep 30, 2009 at 10:54

There is now a report with MSE included: http://www.av-comparatives.org/images/stories/test/performance/performance_dec09.pdf

Seems MSE does pretty well, which fits with my impression.


I use Avast, Malwarebytes and Microsoft Security Essentials on my computer.

When I visit some sites that are infected, Security Essentials detects the viruses, and asks me to clean my computer. However, these infections are not recognized by my other free antivirus programs. Sometimes Avast shows a pop-up finding a virus and automatically disables it. Security Essentials asks what to do when infected. In the case of Malwarebytes, it detects adware and cookie tracking programs very well, but Avast and MSE do not search those much.

In my opinion, MSE is very powerful to find threats. The only problem is that the adware and cookie tracking softwares is neglected. I often found that these adware and cookie tracking programs also disconnect the Internet connection, or slow it down.

Avast is very good. It finds and corrects automatically. However I'm not sure if its virus database is perfect when compared to MSE.

Some viruses which are found by Avast are not found by MSE. In the case of Security Essentials, it lacks only very few viruses Avast finds.

I choose MSE's virus database to be the best of all. The benchmark must see MSE on top.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.