Editor's Note: This product has been discontinued. Please see our Internet Security Suites Software review site for side-by-side comparisons of the best products that are currently available.
Windows Live OneCare is the internet security suite developed by Windows and has been since updated and expanded into a second version. It is run on the Windows XP and Vista platforms along with Windows Defender to protect against viruses, spyware, phishing and other forms of fraud. However, while Windows Live OneCare offers very comprehensive scanning and cleaning operations, it lacks the firewall considerations like ICSA certification, registry protection, file protection, data filtering, VB 100% certification and W.C.L levels 1 and/or 2 certification. This means that you are scanning and cleaning viruses and spyware, which should be blocked in the first place.
Another drawback is the lack of filtering and safeguarding that is given, meaning that website filtering, password protection, email scanning, website history logs and privacy controls must be accounted for by another program, or left to chance. Windows Live OneCare does block most adware, phishing and spyware, but others forms of phishing like keylogging, which allows phishers to obtain information through recording user keystrokes, are not protected by this internet security suite.
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The availability of Windows products makes troubleshooting and other assistance issues relatively easy. However, since Windows Live OneCare is run simultaneously with Windows Defender on one of two different platforms, it can be difficult to pinpoint errors or to seek specific assistance.
Windows Live OneCare offers both port mirroring and network traffic monitoring. While these services are helpful in optimizing server use around crashed or overburdened servers, they often lack the reactive measures necessary to effectively combat malicious firewall breeches. These firewalls are further weakened by their allowance of Java applications and digitally-signed software to bypass the typical user warnings and filters.
Consistent scanning is one of the most commonly used antivirus tools. Windows Live OneCare scans and cleans for viruses routinely. Whether these scans are scheduled or requested, they can be directed manually or automatically, depending on the user’s needs. Unfortunately, Windows Live OneCare does not quarantine viruses, nor does it offer detailed information or notices of outbreaks when viruses are caught.
Windows Live OneCare uses the Windows Defender as its antispyware base. In its earlier versions, this required a separate installation, but in its current version, their installation is simultaneous. These programs together provide protection against spyware, adware, phishing, spam and Trojan Horses. However, the functions of Windows Defender are dependent upon the strength and stability of the firewall. If the firewall is weak, Windows Defender will be limited in its efficacy.
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While the services Windows Live OneCare offer would protect the average PC user from most viral and spyware threats, it lacks many of the features that are common in other internet security suite providers. Windows Live OneCare is hindered most of all by its lack of firewall depth. Also, many of the problems that have been associated with recent Windows platforms like Vista are common in Windows Live OneCare.
Overall, while Windows Live OneCare is coordinated by and compatible with other Windows products, it lacks the depth of preventative security that many other products have.