Windows Defender is the antivirus that comes installed on Windows 10. Developed by Microsoft, Windows’ antivirus is free, easy to use, and offers a good level of protection against malware according to tests from AV-Test.
Nevertheless, Defender has its limitations, which include the lack of more advanced features and complementary tools, such as password managers, present in paid alternatives from developers such as Kaspersky, Avast, McAfee, and others.
Below you will see what Windows Defender is, how it works, and what its strengths and weaknesses are.
What is Windows Defender?
Windows Defender is Microsoft’s antivirus and part of Windows 10, besides featuring in previous editions of the system. The presence of this program means that the user does not need to install a third-party antivirus, as Windows Defender takes care of basic services of protection against malware infections of several types.
Although Windows Defender is functional and fully integrated into the operating system, it can end up being insufficient for more demanding users and for those who expect more resources from a security platform. On the other hand, it is a completely free solution, simple to use, and should meet the needs of the vast majority of people.
In terms of quality, AV-Test tests place Windows Defender among the best antivirus available for Windows at the moment. The August 2020 edition of the entity’s comparatives shows Defender with maximum scores in usability, performance, and protection.
Windows Defender Features
Windows Defender is a basic antivirus that offers features such as scanning hard drives for viruses, besides real-time detection and malware removal. Microsoft, as well as companies specialized in the industry, creates new virus definitions that are continuously passed to the program through Windows Update. This way, the resource is always up to date with new forms of attack in exploitation by criminals.
In addition to these basic functions, Windows Defender has tools such as scans scheduling and protection engines aimed at specific ransomware combat. Microsoft’s antivirus also offers a mode for games, in which Defender decreases the level of demand of the system as a way to ensure greater performance to the computer.
The program has some internet browsing protection features, but they are only integrated into Microsoft Edge. There are modes for data protection during the use of websites from banks and stores, as well as a security monitor that checks Internet addresses to ensure their security.
How to Enable and Disable Windows Defender
To disable real-time scanning against viruses and threats, just open the Windows Security panel. You can get there through the “Settings” app, under “Updates and Security”, then click on “Windows Security”. Another option is to search “defend” in the Windows 10 search.
Then, in the “Virus and threat protection settings” screen, click on “Manage settings”. On the new screen, you can disable or reactivate Windows Defender features, such as “Real-time protection”, which effectively turns off antivirus, and “Cloud delivered protection”, which uses the Internet to check samples of potential threats identified on your computer.
Windows Defender vs Other Antivirus
Regarding the basic functions, such as the ability to detect and remove malware, Windows Defender will have performance similar to competitors, paid or not. There are different scanning modes, real-time monitoring to block viruses, and Microsoft releases new virus detection updates frequently.
The big difference for standalone software is that products like Kaspersky, Avast, or McAfee add extra functionality to their paid-for modes. Some examples are licenses that you can apply to more than one device, password managers, VPNs, and more advanced protectors for Internet browsing.
Other features missing from Defender are integrated, real-time protections for email apps and technologies to destroy data when you delete it from your computer. Besides, integration with browsers is limited to Edge.
In contrast to this simplicity, there is the fact that antivirus is completely free and works normally on the operating system without you needing to make any changes or configuration.
Windows Defender Browser Protection
Windows Defender Browser Protection is an extension for browsers derived from Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. The tool brings greater integration between antivirus and browsers different from Microsoft Edge.
The extension acts by monitoring pages and Internet addresses in search of potential risks to the user, such as phishing schemes, in addition to fake sites that may attempt to capture user data or distribute malware.
Is Windows Defender good in 2020?
Microsoft’s antivirus solution shows a good track record in independent tests, such as those conducted periodically by the institute responsible for the AV-Test website.
In the last round of comparisons, released in August 2020, Windows Defender achieved top scores in the usability categories, which attests to how easy the product’s usability is and whether it generates many false positives.
The antivirus also stood out in performance, which tests if the antivirus does not weigh too much on the system; and in detection, which measures its ability to find and act against several types of malware.
In short, if you need an antivirus just to keep an eye on what happens in your computer to identify potential threats, Windows Defender will be enough. If, on the other hand, you have a usage profile that requires more resources and tools, maybe Microsoft’s integrated solution will end up being limited.
Microsoft Defender is behind paid rivals when it comes to the level of additional features of the platform. Microsoft’s solution is more focused on protecting the computer, while Kaspersky’s, McAfee’s, Symantec’s, and others focus on ensuring security features that transcend the protection of the computer and reach the mobile. Also, they offer additional features such as VPNs and password managers.