Windows Live OneCare
Note: This software is no longer supported by the vendor. It has been replaced by Microsoft Security Essentials.
This all-in-one security and maintenance service offers an everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink approach: You get anti-virus, a firewall, anti-spyware, backup software, and performance tune-ups in one very large package. Whether you'll find it worth the money depends on whether you like advanced configuration options, or prefer to let Microsoft handle all that for you.
Many of the features are fairly basic. The tune-up, for example, does little more than defragment your hard disk, remove files such as those in your Internet cache, scan for viruses, and check for updates--all things that you can do yourself manually. The backup program is better than the one that comes with Windows, but then again, almost any backup program is better than that. Windows Live OneCare includes Windows Defender anti-spyware--previously a separate installation--so when you install OneCare, Windows Defender is installed as well.Given that Microsoft already offers a free firewall in Windows XP and Windows Vista, and also makes its Windows Defender anti-spyware available for free, the main new security feature you get is anti-virus. Independent tests don't rate the anti-virus feature as being one of the best. In May, 2006, PC World tested its capabilities, in performance tests conducted by AV-Test.org. In them, OneCare displayed some weaknesses. It failed to detect 14 out of 1690 file viruses on the WildList, a published list of common malware; since these viruses are publicly known, you should expect your security software to score 100 percent here. Also, among the ten security suites PC World looked at, OneCare received the worst score in our heuristics tests, which suggests that the program has a hard time detecting malware it can't recognize.
Overall, if you're looking for a simple solution to PC maintenance that you can turn on and forget, you might give this a try. But if you want something more advanced, you'd do well to look elsewhere.