All-in-One Software: OneCare

Windows Live OneCare is a Microsoft solution that combines the power of antivirus, antispyware and firewall technology into one powerful package.  It also offers backup and recovery solutions for the local hard drive of your computer.

Installation and Interface

Windows Live OneCare is an easy download with a quick setup and installation process.  The toolbar across the top of the interface displays the current system status.  You'll also find alerts flashing across the toolbar, indicating details such as your activation status.  To the left of the interface is the scanning engine that seeks out viruses and spyware, along with options to start a backup, restore from backup and a help section.  The main area of the interface includes reporting modules for reporting on PC Security, Transaction Security, Backup and Recovery and PC Tuneup.  There is a brief explanation of each module with options that give you more details of their functions. 

Description of Features

While Windows XP and Vista operating systems come included with its own security utilities, OneCare offers a few more performance tools to enhance protection.  One of the program's biggest features is Microsoft's antivirus scanning engine.  The engine is based on GeCAD technology, a Romanian security organization purchased by Microsoft many years ago.  Unlike security solutions offered by Symantec and McAfee, the OneCare scanner allows user configuration.  You choose the drives to be scanned, how they will be scanned, and how to proceed if any infections are detected.  To assure protection against spyware, Live OneCare uses Windows Defender technology.                          

Like many security solutions on the market, Windows Live OneCare includes the basic tools for the purpose of system backup and recovery.  The program allows you to safely backup data onto a CD, DVD, HD or USB drive.  Microsoft does not recommend backing up any data onto a FAT32 storage device.  For this reason, the OneCare software provides instructions on how to convert the hard drive of an FAT32 system over to NTFS. 

Though Windows Live OneCare has proven to be efficient, there have been a few consumer complaints regarding it's list of features.  For instance, the protection it provides against spyware can be achieved with Windows Defender, a utility that can be downloaded for free.  To protect against phishing scams and rootkits, it uses Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, a browser that is also freely available.

Many of OneCare's performance tools are also available in the Windows XP operating system.  The same results of the program's defragmenter can be achieved with the defragmenter underneath the System Tools menu of your computer.  The same can be stated in regard to the feature used to delete temporary internet files, a task that can be easily performed underneath the Tools and Internet Options tab of your web browser.  Windows Live OneCar does simplify the process with a one-click system to automatically run these features, though some consumers do not feel this is enough to justify the price. 


When searching for an effective all-in-one solution, it is important to look far beyond the cost.  Windows Live OneCare is a quality program, even though some of its actual features are questionable.  The good thing is that these functions are more defined, accessible, user friendly and play a significant role in protecting your system.       

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You can protect your computer from viruses without expensive software. Instead, follow these simple tips:

Stay up-to-date on all system updates.

Don't download any email attachments you weren't expecting.

Avoid freeware and peer-to-peer sharing sites.

Use alternative web browsers and email software.