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Review: Windows Live OneCare Protects Your PC -- Almost

Microsoft has long received criticism that Windows is an insecure operating system, and that basic maintenance tasks such as backing up a hard disk are too difficult to accomplish. In that criticism, Microsoft recognized an opportunity, and so it created Microsoft Windows Live OneCare, an all-in-one security and maintenance suite, designed to protect PCs and keep them running in top condition.

OneCare is a reasonably priced, well-integrated security and tune-up solution that will be welcomed by beginning and intermediate PC users. But power users and small businesses may be disappointed because the suite lacks some important features, with a notably weak backup module.

Click image to enlarge.

The best thing about Windows Live OneCare is how well its different applications combine into a single solution, and how well OneCare itself integrates into Windows. OneCare's main control panel replaces Windows XP's normal Security Center. From this one location, you can use and customize all of the suite's features, including anti-virus, anti-spyware, a two-way firewall, computer tune-up, and backup. Because it replaces the Security Center, it acts as if it were a normal part of the operating system.

The alerts built into OneCare are particularly useful. The OneCare icon in the System Tray stays green when no action needs to be taken; turns orange when a task needs to be performed, such as backing up your hard disk; and turns red when a danger is found. Double-click the icon, and OneCare opens and informs you about the task that needs to be performed -- after which you can set it in motion with a single click.

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