Microsoft Security Essentials
September 2, 2013 5:46 AM   Subscribe

Microsoft Security Essentials Missing From System Tray.

Greetings -

I was trying to help my father out yesterday with his laptop. He noticed that his Microsoft Security Essentials icon is now missing from his system tray. I haven't noticed this before as it has always been in my system tray. Of course, I did a couple of Google searchers which mainly brought me to sites where people post to message boards and you have to do a series of tests and posts reports for about a week.

I am not an IT guy - I know a bit more about it than my father - but I am trying to help him out. Does a missing icon in the system tray mean something serious? Should he bring it in somewhere and pay for it to have it fixed?

I also tried to open it manually from the Windows start menu, but got an error message.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks,
posted by dbirchum to Computers & Internet (35 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, with Windows, if a reboot doesn't solve it, my next advice is to uninstall and reinstall the program. It seems to work well for many issues like this (program won't start, icon missing) on Windows and Mac.
posted by Fortran at 6:01 AM on September 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Right-click in the tray and select "Customize Notification Icons".

Scan down to Security Essentials. Make sure it says "Show Icon and Notifications".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:28 AM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks.

Yes, this is a windows machine and I did try rebooting it several times.

I even looked for the .exe file in the MSE folder, but I couldn't find it. I can certainly find it in the control panel to uninstall, however, I am not sure where to find it to install it again.
posted by dbirchum at 6:28 AM on September 2, 2013

I also tried to open it manually from the Windows start menu, but got an error message.

This is the relevant problem. Forget about the system tray for now. What does the error message say?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:04 AM on September 2, 2013

You need to check to see if it's actually running. Open the task manager. (Right click the task bar and choose "Task Manager".)

See if there's a program called "msseces.exe" running.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:18 AM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: Ok. When I try and start to open/run it from the start menu, I get this error:

msseces.exe Application Error

The Application was unable to start correctly (oxc00000ba). Click ok to close.

I will check in the task manager. When i open that, look for "msseces.exe" in the "Processes" portion of the Task Manager, correct?
posted by dbirchum at 7:36 AM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: He is running Windows 7 Home Premium edition, if that helps.
posted by dbirchum at 7:41 AM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: Ok, the "msseces.exe" is NOT showing up in his Task Manager 'processes'.
posted by dbirchum at 7:42 AM on September 2, 2013

Best answer: In the "Search" field in the Win7 start menu type "Services.msc" (without the quotes) and scroll through the list of services until you see "Microsoft Antimalware Service". What are the "Status" and "Startup type" for that service?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:55 AM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the reply!!!

Ok. I found the "Microsoft Antimalware Service" in the list of services.

Under "Description", it says "Failed to read description Error Code:5

Under "Status" its blank, and

Under Start-Up Type, its "Automatic".

If there is anything that you would like me to check, let me know!

(you can send me an ask meta email if you would prefer not to post on the board). Up to you.

Thanks again!!
posted by dbirchum at 8:08 AM on September 2, 2013

That could reflect either an innocuous but annoying configuration issue or malware. Have you scanned the computer recently with any antivirus products?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:54 AM on September 2, 2013

Your copy of MSSE is in a condition that we doctors call "b0rked".

If I were you, I'd download the MSSE installer from the official MSSE download site, then use Programs and Features from the Control Panel to uninstall the one you've got, then restart Windows, then run the installer you downloaded to put it back.
posted by flabdablet at 8:57 AM on September 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: To my knowledge, the only antivirus protection he uses, is Microsoft Security Essentials. I will download malware bytes and give that a scan.

I will also download the MSSE installer that flabdablet and give that a go too. I am on my way over to his house to do this in person again and I will be there in a couple of hours and report back.

Thanks to everyone who has helped thus far! I want to get to the bottom of this!!
posted by dbirchum at 9:07 AM on September 2, 2013

Do the virus scan first - if you have some type of malware that has the ability to stop MSE from running, just reinstalling MSE will not help. If you are clear of viruses etc., then go ahead with the reinstall. Microsoft has a very helpful knowledgebase article if you run into issues with the reinstall.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:15 AM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: Sounds good!

Do you recommend that I install Malware Byte? Or another scanner for his computer?

As I noted, right now, he only uses Microsoft Security Essentials...
posted by dbirchum at 9:25 AM on September 2, 2013

The free version of MalwareBytes should be fine. If you want to be thorough you could first run something like McAfee Stinger to reduce the likelihood of any existing malware interfering with the MalwareBytes install and MSE reinstall.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:43 AM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: Ok Thanks!

I will fire it up when I get there and post back later.

Thanks again!!
posted by dbirchum at 9:46 AM on September 2, 2013

AntiMalware is a different program. It kind of gets invisibly and magically installed by Security Essentials, I think, but it's separate.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:57 AM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: Ok. I ran the McAfee Stinger. It found one threat and removed it (Google Updater trojan? or something like that - sorry, I closed out of it by accident before I wrote it down). Then I ran the scan again, and it was clean.

Should I try and remove and reinstall MSE now like mentioned above? Or should I run Malware Bytes first?
posted by dbirchum at 11:30 AM on September 2, 2013

Go ahead and run MalwareBytes first just to be safe. MB should not conflict with MSE as the free version of MB has no real-time protection module - the only thing you'll want to avoid is having both run a scan at the same time, because that will seriously slow both scans and may cause other conflicts.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:42 AM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: Ok.

Here is the latest.

As mentioned above, I downloaded and ran Mcfee Stinger. It showed something, but I cleaned it. I uninstalled Microsoft Security Essentials from the Control Panel and then reinstalled it following the link above.

That worked fine. I ran a scan and it was clean! I rebooted and MSE is again missing from the system tray, yet I was able to open it and run it from the start menu (which I wasn't able to do this morning). And now its in the system tray. Maybe there is a setting that I have to click to get it to stay in the system tray?

So then I installed and ran Malware Bytes. I did a quick scan and one infected item showed up: Trojan.Zaccess. I clicked remove and it said I had to restart immediately in order to clean, which i did. I did a quick scan again, same item showed up (Trojan.Zaccess) and rebooted again. Now I am running my third quick scan to see if it shows up.

She here is the latest:

1. McAfee Stinger - scanned and fine
2. Microsoft Security Essentials - scanned and fine
3. Malware Bytes - quick scan twice and both times the "trojan.Zaccess" has showed up (working on my third scan now).

And suggestions as to what I should do now?

Thanks again for those being so patient with me!!
posted by dbirchum at 1:12 PM on September 2, 2013

MB should be able to remove ZeroAccess without issue, I think. Here is a guide for a more extensive manual method with multiple tools that should ensure you have completely removed it. Depending on how many documents etc. your dad keeps on the PC you may find it easier to simply back up important documents, wipe the drive, and reinstall Windows.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:24 PM on September 2, 2013

Response by poster: Hey Inspector.Gadget.

Thanks again for ALL of your help and assistance today. I can't thank you enough.

I am not at his house anymore (I am home), so I don't know if the third MB scan cleaned everything (but I suspect that the trojan will still show up).

If it didn't, thanks for the Guide. I will certainly drop back in there over the next couple of days and go through the guide and try and manually remove it. Thanks again!
posted by dbirchum at 4:03 PM on September 2, 2013

MalwareBytes scans are best done in Safe Mode (or Safe Mode With Networking, if you haven't already updated the MalwareBytes database). Quite a lot of nasties capable of resisting removal in normal mode die quite satisfactorily in Safe Mode.
posted by flabdablet at 11:29 AM on September 3, 2013

Response by poster: Interesting....

How would I run the MalwareBytes in safe mode?

posted by dbirchum at 5:39 PM on September 5, 2013

Best answer: Start Windows in Safe Mode, then run MalwareBytes. If it's been more than a few days since you ran it last, use Safe Mode With Networking instead so it can update itself.
posted by flabdablet at 6:54 PM on September 5, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks! I will do this today and post any results.

I know on my own computer, I have ran Microsoft Security Essentials and MalwareBytes and both have showed no threats. However, I have also used Spybot and a Torjan:Win32/Urausy.E threat pops up. It never shows up in the other ones, only that one and SpyBot can't clean it. Frustrating!!
posted by dbirchum at 4:12 AM on September 6, 2013

Response by poster: Sorry, I meant it was Win32.Downloader.gen is what shows up on Spybot for my own computer...
posted by dbirchum at 7:07 AM on September 6, 2013

Response by poster: WORKED!!!!!!

The Safe Mode scan worked with Malware Bytes. The virus was picked up in safe mode, was ABLE to be removed, I restarted the computer (in normal mode) and ran Malware Bytes again, and nothing showed up!!!!

Thanks ALL who helped me out with this issue - Inspector.Gadget, flabdablet and Chocolate Pickle. You are the best!!!
posted by dbirchum at 10:34 AM on September 17, 2013

For your future reference: I have never found anything from McAfee to be of the slightest use ever. Norton-branded products stopped being useful in about 1990. And I have seen Trend render a customer's computer completely inoperable (even in Safe Mode) after an update.

I've only ever seen MSSE do something weird once. It was on a school workstation, and I forget what it did exactly, but it was very irritating and it stopped doing it when I uninstalled MSSE. That's mainly why the school now has Panda Cloud Antivirus Free on all workstations instead (unusually for a freebie, the PCAV Free licence permits use on an unlimited number of workstations for non-profit organizations).

The current version of PCAV has a "Data Shield" component that allows only whitelisted application programs to have access to selected filetypes in selected folders. It works independently of the main signature and behaviour analyzing anti-malware engine, and is quite a comforting thing to have around in case of zero day exploits.

But the single most effective tool I know of for keeping a not terribly computer savvy person's Windows box clean is browsing with all advertising disabled. Use Adblock Plus for Firefox or Chrome subscribed to both EasyPrivacy+EasyList and Fanboy's Annoyance List, turn off the ABP option that allows non-intrusive advertising, use Set Program Access and Defaults to disable access to Internet Explorer, and your Dad's computer should run well indefinitely.
posted by flabdablet at 11:26 AM on September 17, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks flabdablet - i appreciate the tips.

Never heard of Panda Cloud Free before, but I will check it out. I have AVG on my computer and my father has MSSE on his. Is it better than either of those??

I use Firefox and my father uses Internet Explore. Funny....I heard of Adblock Plus for Firefox and downloaded it late last week!! I clicked on both of those subscribe things (I never even knew you could do that...thanks!) I always have Ad Fender and Ghostery downloaded as well. I heard both of those are good.

I will read up on the Set Program Access and Defaults for my Father's computer. Is there much to setting up that (I didn't read the document yet...I just noticed it looked quite lengthy).

And you are right, both myself and my father aren't overly tech savvy, so I am always looking for ways to keep our windows box clean.
posted by dbirchum at 3:30 PM on September 18, 2013

I have AVG on my computer and my father has MSSE on his. Is it better than either of those??

Definitely better than AVG, which used to be my free AV of choice up to about version 7.5, after which it bloated up and got very slow.

I like it better than MSSE because it's caused me less trouble, but if MSSE is on one of your computers and working well for you, there's probably no good reason to switch.

Forgot to mention that during the Panda Cloud Antivirus installation process you get the option of installing the Panda Security Toolbar and making changes to your home page and search engine. I recommend turning all those options off.
posted by flabdablet at 9:23 PM on September 18, 2013

my father uses Internet Explore.

Then it's no surprise at all to me that it was his box that got infected.
posted by flabdablet at 9:24 PM on September 18, 2013

Response by poster: Sounds good, flabdablet. I will dl the Free version of Panda and check it out! Thanks again for all of your tips.

My father only knows how to use Internet Explorer. He refuses to use anything else!!
posted by dbirchum at 5:32 PM on September 20, 2013

That's why I recommend using Set Program Access and Defaults to remove access to IE. Give him a choice between not being able to browse the web at all and doing it by clicking the new orange and blue thing instead of the old blue thing, and watch him click the orange and blue thing.

He will grumble. His grumbling will cost you far less time in the medium to long term than will needing to clean his computer again and again and again and again.

If you can't be horribly paternalistic to your own father, then who? :-)
posted by flabdablet at 12:13 AM on September 21, 2013

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