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I've installed anti-virus software, but Windows says I haven't. What do I do?

I have a new machine running Windows Vista, and I purchased an anti-virus
program, but it is saying that I have no virus protection? I am sooo new to
this, but when I purchased it, I sure thought that I would have virus
protection! Can you give me any idea what to do, because I am at a loss.

While I’m not familiar with the specific product you purchased, I’d say it’s
likely that you do have Anti-Virus protection.

Windows just doesn’t know about it.

Let’s look at how that can be.


Windows “Security Center” was added in Windows XP to help … no, encourage … no, annoy people into making sure that they had anti-malware and other security software installed and configured properly on their machines. It’s really a good thing, particularly for folks who typically didn’t pay attention to such things before. By far the easiest thing to do when the Security Center told you, for example, that you had no anti-virus software installed was to go out get and install anti-virus software.

As you’ve seen, the problem arises when you dutifully do the right thing and Windows keeps telling you that you haven’t.

The issue is simply this: when you install anti-virus software Windows must be told, or must otherwise “figure out” that you have done so. Most major brand anti-malware packages do this automatically, and installing them makes the warning go away. If the program doesn’t tell Windows, or if Windows can’t figure it out, it has no way of knowing that there is in fact an anti-virus solution installed, and thus it keeps on warning you.

“… the problem arises when you dutifully do the right thing and Windows keeps telling you that you haven’t.”

There are two approaches you can take.

The simplest, I suppose, is just to install a different anti-virus program. There are many good ones out there that, when installed, “do the right thing”. See the related links at the end of this article for other articles in which I name names. Be sure to uninstall your previous anti-virus software first as, unless you are careful, the two can conflict.

The other alternative is to tell Windows manually that you know what the heck you’re doing, that there is an anti-virus solution installed, and it can stop annoying you about it.

To do that, in Vista, Go to Control Panel, and in there visit the Security Center:

Windows Vista Security Center showing warnings

Click on Check Settings next to “Malware protection” and you should get something similar to this:

Windows Vista Security Center showing malware settings check

Your error message may vary, but click the button labeled Turn On, or an equivalent button in that position. You’ll now be presented with a choice similar to this:

Windows Vista Security Center malware options

Click on “I have an antivirus program that I’ll monitor myself“.

You should then see “Malware protection” in the security center change from red to yellow, and while it still says “check settings”, the state has been changed to “not monitored”.

Now, naturally, this approach implies that you do, indeed, know that you have anti-virus software installed and running. Check the documentation that came with whatever package you have to make sure that’s the case.

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