onecareThis is for anyone who might have been procrastinating. Look down in the lower right corner for the icon for your security program.

If you see the Windows Live OneCare icon (pictured above), it’s time to move on!

securityessentialsicon

If you see the Microsoft Security Essentials icon (pictured at right), you’re fine. Go back to work. (If you’re using Windows 7, you may have to click on the up arrow to find it in the hidden icons.)

Microsoft is sending out a blizzard of email notices to former OneCare users about OneCare subscription extensions and renewals and cancellations. You can ignore them. There are no further charges for OneCare and you don’t need to do anything to cancel your subscription.

OneCare is technically still up to date with virus definitions but its detection engine is not being updated to deal with the wave of malware arriving via your Internet browser. You’re less safe with OneCare than with Microsoft Security Essentials or another current program.

BACKUP  A special word of caution if you’ve been using OneCare for backups: once you remove OneCare, you have to set up a different backup routine! You can use the built-in backup in Vista and Windows 7, but there’s no easy answer for Windows XP computers. You’ll have to read my backup tutorial and decide what works for you – online backup, third party software, dedicated backup devices or a Windows Home Server, manual copying, or a new computer. Let me know if you want help figuring that out. There are really only two important rules:

  • You must have a backup. I’m staring at a six-month old computer whose hard drive stopped spinning with no warning. It happens.
  • Whatever backup method you choose, take the time to learn how it works, how to set it up correctly, and how to know if it’s working. When you turn to me for help in a crisis, your backups will be useless unless you can tell me what backup program you used and where the software came from!