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Normally, Microsoft Security Essentials should handle updating itself properly, but reinstalling might do the trick.

Microsoft Security Essentials says I'm at risk. I tried to update and the message comes back to me stating that it cannot update because MSE is out of date. I tried a few things when I looked online but it didn't work. I have Windows 7, 64-bit and Internet Explorer 8.

In this excerpt from Answercast #54, I look at an installation of Microsoft Security Essentials that won't update. We'll try starting from scratch.

MSE won't update

So, it sounds like Microsoft Security Essentials itself is out of date. In which case, the right thing to do is typically:

  • Uninstall the version of the program that you have right now completely,

  • Download a brand new copy from the Microsoft website,

  • And then reinstall that.

Automatic updates?

Now, I'm a little confused, maybe even a little concerned, because normally Microsoft Security Essentials should handle updating itself properly, so there shouldn't be an issue like this.

But, my sense is that if you do this, if you uninstall Microsoft Security Essentials from Control Panel > Programs, and then download a fresh copy and install it from scratch - you'll probably be just fine.

Article C5828 - September 19, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Steve Gledhill (PC Resolver)
September 19, 2012 11:11 PM

I agree: it seems that MS SE itself needs upgrading. However, it brings to mind a problem with the updating of the virus signatures in SE. The default setting is to run a scheduled scan weekly and there is a tick box to 'check for updates before scanning'.
I don't know if MS SE checks for updates at other times as well but, to be safe, I set my scheduled scan for 'Daily'. At least I know my virus definitions are (on average) 0.5 a day old and not 3.5 days.
Do you know how often MS SE updates its virus definitions?

September 21, 2012 6:14 AM

MSE updates come tagged along with standard updates as 'optional' sometimes, and MSE itself complains after about 5 days (if it doesn't auto-update)

September 21, 2012 8:32 AM

MSE Update FAQs

Make sure the clock is set properly including day/month/year.

Also ensure that BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) is "Started" and "Startup type" is set to "Automatic"

Although MMPC usually lists only three definition updates daily on average there are as many as five available and MSE will update up to twice daily (not including update before schedule daily scan)

Dave Grainger
September 21, 2012 9:17 AM

Since MSoft is NOT in the antimalware business and since I very frequently find a load of malware on customer PCs that only are using that lame (but free) MSoft product, I ALWAYS tell customers to use only one of the top three. AVG is another one that does not catch much. I have run VIPRE Rescue on MANY PCs with AVG and with MSoft Security Essentials and routinely find very nasty malware that was missed by both AVG and MS Sec Essentials. Only the top few anti-malware programs are reading code looking for malicious instructions; the rest are comparing file names to a list. Many malware attcks create randomly generated new file names which cannot be detected. You get what you pay for: if you always read restaurant menus from right to left, you always eat hamburgers.

Mark J
September 21, 2012 12:24 PM

Microsoft Security Essentials offers good antivirus protection and includes heuristic scans for virus patterns. And it is recommended by Leo:
What Security Software do you recommend?

September 21, 2012 4:02 PM

My neighbor had this happen. She had malware preventing updates. Microsoft solved it for her

A Richter
September 22, 2012 2:27 AM

To Dave G:

VIPRE Rescue only gets 3 out of 5 on Softpedia users ratings. Although it means "good", it is not reassuring.

September 26, 2012 8:04 PM

I had Avast Free for years, until they started bugging me for $$$ with no way around it.
I switched to MSSE, which worked fine for a few months, then wouldn't let me update either. I tried to uninstall & re-install then I couldn't install from new download either. Error code something or another. Finally went with AVG. Not happy about it, but it beats nothing. I'd really like to get Avast! back. Never had a problem in over 6 years with them, and they scan email attachments and such now.
Not a big fan of the Microsoft Security Essentials. As with everything from them, It's more hassle than it's worth when it should just plain work.

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