The security protection of Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare 2.0 suite is much better than that of the debut version. Add to that a low price, and you have a solid, easy-to-use security product for PC users who don't want to mess too much with software settings.

OneCare combines the virus, adware/spyware, and two-way firewall protection of a security suite with the backup and defragging tools of a utility suite. We downloaded and installed it quickly, although we had to create a Windows Live ID to do so. One £37.99 inc VAT licence lets you use Microsoft Windows Live OneCare 2.0 on three PCs, and you can use the program to back up to one or more CD/DVDs, external hard drives, and (new in this version) networked drive volumes. You can create backups on demand or on a schedule.

Microsoft Windows Live OneCare 2.0 is simple to use, largely because it has few settings to configure. A status bar lets you know whether your PC's health is Good (green), Fair (orange), or At Risk (red), and prompts you to take the appropriate corrective action.

The software ran smoothly on two test machines, one running Windows XP and the other running Vista Home Premium. (We were amused to see that Vista's User Access Control required that we grant permission to Microsoft Windows Live OneCare 2.0 - Microsoft's own security software - to run.)

In performance tests by German security research company, Microsoft Windows Live OneCare 2.0 was reasonably good at detecting known malware samples. It recognised on average 95 percent of the backdoor programs, bots, Trojan horses, and worms in's collection of 674,589 threats.

In a recent round-up of security suites, detection percentages in this test ranged from 69 to 98 percent; though we can't compare exact test results between stories due to differences in sample sets, we can still reasonably conclude that Microsoft Windows Live OneCare 2.0 did fairly well.

Microsoft Windows Live OneCare 2.0 also detected a pretty good 88 percent of adware and spyware, and 83 percent of rootkits. OneCare's heuristic ability to detect unknown threats based on their similarity to previously recognised samples was very good too.

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