Windows Live OneCare- buyer beware



I have been using Windows Live OneCare on three different computers for about six months and couldn’t be happier with the service.  OneCare provides protection for up to three computers in the form of anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall protection, and PC maintenance (disk defragger, file cleanup, Office /Windows updates, backup/ restore).  OneCare has performed flawlessly on all three PCs I am running it on so when Kevin mentioned the special low price for upgrading from the free beta to the real service I jumped on it.  The special price of $19.95 to protect three computers for a year was too good to pass up so a couple of days ago I plunked my money down on the OneCare web site.

Today I got an email from OneCare that confirmed my purchase and also included some information about maintaining the OneCare account.  Buried in a paragraph in the email is something that buyers of OneCare need to be aware of:

This is an annual subscription that will be automatically charged to your credit card every year unless you cancel your account or select an alternative plan.

Not even Symantec auto-renews unless you manually cancel their anti-virus service and Microsoft really should rethink this policy.  The service is great and has worked well for me but I envision next year at this time wondering why $49.95 (standard OneCare subscription rate) has just been pulled out of my credit card.  Caveat emptor.




It could be worst, they could do it up Oracle style.

You forget to renew your Oracle support contract and they say no problem, we’ll sell you a new copy of the product which comes with a new support contract.

That gets a bit spendy for their database product where you are paying by the CPU.

Mickey Segal

PC Magazine started billing my credit card automatically without my having given consent to do so. I took that opportunity to cancel my subscription, which I might otherwise have renewed (though reading jkOnTheRun and GottaBeMobile provides better content at a much better price).

Josh Einstein

Oh and to Michael in the comments:

Unfortunately, this is the case for EVERY virus/spyware scanner. I just had an infestation and I ran like 5 different scanners and they all gave me 5 different sets of results. A majority of the results overlaped, but each one found some that the others didn’t. So you’re not completely safe with any of them. It just is another layer of protection.

Josh Einstein

James, this is standard practice with recurring billing. Everybody does it,, Xbox Live, internet service providers, etc. But they’ll almost always refund you if you call and cancel even after you’ve been charged.

You’ll also most likely get notified a few weeks before they do it.

Anyway, after what I just went through, I’d much rather get charged $49.99 a year on an automatic schedule than forget to renew and wind up going the torture of an infestation again.

Besides, I use Microsoft Money (or Quicken if you prefer) and I can see in advance what bills are coming.

Michael Nichols

I had problems with one care. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. Automatic backup, defrag, firewall, antivirus, spyware with defender. Until i did another check for viruses and spyware with another program. i do this every 6 months or so to make sure my current tools do what they claim. I found the software itself was infected with a virus as well as large build up of spyware. I switched to symantec and an alternate spyware choice and have never been happier. Perhaps this is an isolated case but I would caution anyone using to check with another tool to ensure it is doing what it claims.


Matt, OneCare’s spyware protection is pretty good and recently it gave the option to integrate Defender 2 with it. I did that so OneCare is now running Defender for the spyware protection. I used PerfectDisk until trying OneCare’s defrag which I find to be very fast. It is also easy to keep working while the defrag is running, something I couldn’t easily do with PerfectDisk. It’s probably not as effective a defrag as PerfectDisk but since it’s so fast I find I run the defrag more often.

Matt Smith


How does OneCare’s spyware protection compare to Windows Defender? Is it essentially the same thing, or do I get enhanced protection from OneCare? Also, is there any advantage to using OneCare’s defrag utility over PerfectDisk?

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