I have to be honest, when I finally uninstalled this program, a lot of stress went away and my experience with my computer returned to a friendly relationship. I’ve been using and testing Windows Live OneCare Beta 1.5 for about three weeks now and it hasn’t been the best experience I’ve had with software of its type. OneCare is Microsoft‘s answer to an anti-virus and firewall program in one and if this beta is something to go by, a lot of users are going to be annoyed at the software after a week of installing it. Though, it’s not been a totally negative experience…
Windows Live OneCare, or Windows OneCare Live as it used to be known, is an all round computer security service for Microsoft XP and their newest operating system, Vista. It includes anti-virus, firewall, backup and malware/spyware protection utilities for the user in one simple to use program. The interface is minimal and provides the user with only the most important data when the program is opened. When not in use, the program sits quietly in the user’s taskbar and the icon changes colour depending on the status of the computer: green for good, orange for some action needed and red for a major problem.
The firewall provided in OneCare is different to that provided in Windows XP in that it is a two-way protection system – it blocks both incoming and outgoing traffic unlike the XP included firewall which only blocks incoming traffic. This provides protection from trojans and viruses that may wish to send data from your computer. Also included in the anti-virus protection. This is just your general anti-virus protection, provided by regularly updated definition files downloaded to your computer. The spyware/malware protection is provided by Windows Defender, another Microsoft product that specifically protects users against spyware and malware (the program that defines Messenger Plus! as a threat). OneCare also provides hard drive clean-up and defragmentation utilities that the user can utilise if he or she wishes to. Finally, it also provides a backup feature – something lacking in Windows XP Home Edition – that would compliment Home, Pro and Vista very well. It allows you to backup to a number of different storage formats including external hard drives, DVDs and CDs. It allows you to backup all or some parts at your whim and also allows you to backup networked computers which are also running Windows Live OneCare – a handy feature for a large network.
First Impressions of OneCare
I downloaded Windows Live OneCare Beta 1.5 because I was looking around for a solution to the small amount of anti-virus and firewall programs for the installation of Vista that I have. I decided to test it on XP as well as Vista to see what all the fuss was about. The installation was relatively painless – for a Microsoft product – and as usual I restarted and logged back on. The first thing I noticed was the time it took for it to settle after logging on. That time was significantly bigger than my previous setup. I stayed with it though. I opened up the program and the splash screen presented itself and then the main interface appeared. It was pretty simplistic.
I went through all the options available to me and was surprised that there wasn’t much I could do. I had the options to change a few settings like when to schedule scans, tune-ups and backups but I didn’t have as much control of what it did. At this point, I also noticed that I couldn’t turn OneCare off when I wanted to. This was a major problem for me as my previous firewall program allowed itself to be paused at my will – something that came in handy during LANs and other times. It stayed on all the time and I started to stare at the icon in the taskbar as if it were my captor. Another option that I seemed to have no control over was the fact it insisted, nay, demanded that I complete a tune-up at least once every month. The icon has remained orange for about one and a half weeks due to the fact I resisted doing another tune-up. I got annoyed, angry even, with OneCare and that is not a good sign.
OneCare on the bench?
OneCare for me was an experience that I don’t want to repeat – OneCare gave me more hassle than a virus or trojan would ever have and it was not worth it. You see what I go through reviewing software for you! Although it does provide some handy features, the way they are implemented is very clumsy in my opinion. Instead of just hiding the more advanced options, they’ve not included them at all and allow Windows Live OneCare to take control of your computer. I don’t like anyone, or anything, else having control of my computer. I suppose as this is coming from a more advanced user, it could be seen as OneCare is taking over but to a less advanced user OneCare is seen to be taking care of the computer, making the user have less to worry about.
But, since I installed OneCare, I noted my computer was slower (slower than it is usually) and I’m an impatient user – if you’ve seen me use the school’s computers, you’ve seen me become speedily annoyed with the dismal speeds they they reach. Also, things started to happen on my computer. Links started to appear in ‘My Network Places’ every now and again and also since installing OneCare, my internet connection seemed to die every once in a while and the only way I could regain connectivity was to renew the DHCP atleast 3 times – something that before the install and since the uninstall hasn’t happened.
My final thoughts are pretty simple: don’t use or download Windows Live OneCare. Besides the fact it costs $50 (£27) a year to use the service after the 90-day trial, it’s slow, not as effective as it should be and also hinders network connectivity as well as linking with other computers on the internet. The services it offers are not new and there’s nothing unique about the product other than they’re all provided in one piece of software. You can, and I have, obtain the same protection and the same utilities for free (or at least for a lower price). Although this means installing separate programs for each service, for me it means a faster system and more money in my pocket. My recommendation would be, as my current setup is, AVG Free 7.5 for your anti-virus solution and Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall for your firewall solution. There’s also a spyware solution in the form of Windows Defender (free), AVG Anti-Spyware Free 7.1 or Ad-Aware SE Personal. OneCare is really for the most inexperienced user that doesn’t want to play around with settings and just want something that works out of the box and who doesn’t want to touch any settings – at the cost of system functionality.