Time to find out if Windows Defender’s free protection is enough to keep the latest malware away from you. Windows Defender, which is now called Microsoft Defender, is a program that helps protect Microsoft Windows from malware. The first version of Windows Defender was a free anti-spyware package that could be downloaded for Windows XP. Later, Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11 came with it built in. It’s even being tested on macOS, where it’s called Microsoft Defender Antivirus Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) for Mac. However, the main goal there is to help business settings with mixed-OS systems.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus: Description
On PCs with decent specs, Microsoft Defender’s effect on system performance is probably not obvious, but tests show that using it instead of third-party software won’t give you the performance boost you might expect. Microsoft Defender, which used to be called Windows Defender, is a free antivirus built into Windows OS. It has things like danger scanners, firewalls and network protection, account protection, and security for devices. It is a convenient antivirus option for Windows users, and it has a lot of security features that focus on the device and online protection from spyware, adware, ransomware, and other malware.
The fact that Windows Defender is built in and free for all Windows devices makes the security software even more appealing to everyone. But is Windows Defender really enough to keep your files safe? No, that’s not true. Even though Microsoft Defender is easy to use and does a decent job of protecting you, it is not up to the task of dealing with more serious online threats. The antivirus also doesn’t have reliable checks or safe ways to browse the web.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus Key Features Table
Microsoft Defender security is a powerful and effective security program with a lot of features. Also, all Windows users can use it for free.
|Real-time protection||Microsoft Defender Antivirus scans all files and applications for malware as they are accessed or downloaded.|
|On-demand scans||You can also run manual scans of your entire system, specific drives or folders, or individual files.|
|Cloud protection||It uses cloud-based intelligence to detect and block the latest malware threats.|
|Ransomware protection||It can help protect your files from being encrypted by ransomware attacks.|
|Firewall and network protection||Microsoft Defender Antivirus includes a built-in firewall that can help protect your computer from unauthorized access.|
|Account protection||Microsoft Defender Antivirus can help protect your Windows account from unauthorized access and password theft.|
|App & browser control||It can help you block malicious apps and websites.|
|Device security||Microsoft Defender Antivirus can help you keep your device secure by identifying and fixing security vulnerabilities.|
|Device performance & health||It can help you identify and resolve performance issues with your device.|
|Family options:||It includes a variety of family safety features, such as the ability to block certain websites and apps for children.|
|Microsoft Defender interface||The interface is easy to use and provides a clear overview of your security status.|
Microsoft Defender Antivirus: Ease of use and setup
Windows Defender, which is now called Microsoft Defender or Windows Security, is built into every Windows computer, so there’s not much setting up to do. You don’t have to sign up for anything or download and run anything. Only logging in to OneDrive, Windows’ cloud solution, and turning on the firewall, which only takes a few clicks, are things you should do.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus: Interface
One of the best things about Microsoft Defender Antivirus is that it comes with Windows. You don’t have to run it, and there’s not much chance that it will interfere with anything else. It just works. Because Defender is so easy to use, most people will never see its interface, except for the odd alert. Automatic scanning on download and execution keeps you safe from most threats, and idle and planned scans try to find everything else.
But if you want to look, you can type Windows into the Search box, click Windows Security, and then look through what’s available. As with many other security apps, the main dashboard shows your security state, and a sidebar gives you access to different functions like antivirus, account protection (how you log in), firewall and network protection, blocking malicious URLs and apps, parental controls, and more.
This isn’t always easy to figure out. Defender’s Scan button is two clicks away at the bottom of the Scan Options screen. This is different from most antivirus apps, which put the Scan button on the dashboard. Even with these problems at first, Microsoft Defender Antivirus isn’t too hard to use overall. It doesn’t take long to figure out where everything is, and there aren’t many features.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus: Security Features
It’s pretty safe to use Microsoft Defender protection. Independent tests have shown that it protects almost 100% of the time in real time. It also has extra features like scanning, controlling apps and browsers, and account security to protect your device from malware. But sometimes the checks are wrong and don’t find malicious files and programs that might be unwanted.
The malware checker in Windows Defender is pretty good. It looks for new malware threats like trojans, worms, cryptojackers, and rootkits by using a huge library of malware, machine learning, and heuristic analysis. The malware scanner offers 4 different kinds of malware scans:
- Quick scan: Checks for malware in important system directories.
- Full scan – Looks for malware threats throughout the board of your computer.
- Custom Scan: Scan specific files and folders for malware using the custom option.
- Microsoft Defender offline scan – Without starting the operating system, this scan checks your machine for rootkits and other hidden infections.
Windows Defender Secure Firewall
The secure firewall in Windows Defender checks both incoming and outgoing network data, but it isn’t as easy to use as the firewalls from Norton or Intego (for Mac). For example, if you click Allow an app or feature through Windows Defender Firewall, you’ll see a list of apps and ports that the firewall will let through. However, you can’t change this list until you click Change settings and give the firewall management rights.
Account Protection in Windows Defender gives you simple tools to protect your Windows account, but it doesn’t do much else. Using Account Protection, you can:
- Link your Microsoft account to your Windows account.
- Access the 2FA options for Windows.
- Put Dynamic Lock to work.
App & Browser Control
The App & Site Control feature of Windows Defender offers two different kinds of protection:
- Reputation-based protection: Windows Defender’s real-time safety is based on a user’s reputation. Windows uses a huge online database with a list of millions of apps and websites that are known to work. Each of these apps and websites has a reputation score. If you try to open a program or go to a site with a low reputation score, Windows will stop you.
- Exploit protection: Your machine is shielded from exploit attacks by App & Browser Control’s out-of-the-box exploit protection. It performed admirably in my tests and shielded me from the majority of simulated exploit attacks I used on my Windows 11 machine. It did not, however, stop some of the more sophisticated exploit attacks that Norton 360 stopped.
With Device Security, you can protect your Windows computer with features like core separation and other advanced tools. It also tells you if secure boot is turned on and gives you information about the security engine built into your PC.
Device Performance & Health
The Device Performance & Health tool of Windows Defender lets you learn a few things about your computer, but it doesn’t do anything to improve its speed. You can use Device Performance & Health to see:
- The Windows Time service has problems.
- Problems with how much space your computer can hold.
- If your laptop’s power life is low.
- When apps and tools don’t work right.
Family Options/Parental Controls
The family choices in Windows Defender give you different ways to improve your family’s digital life and keep an eye on what your kids do online, but they’re hard to set up and use.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus: Compatibility
Since Windows Defender is made and kept up to date by Microsoft, it is only available for Windows-based working systems. If you want anti-malware protection for a Mac, an iOS, an Android, or a Linux-based machine, you should look elsewhere. Windows Defender is currently available on the following Windows operating systems, though older versions have fewer features.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus: Usability
It’s great to have an antivirus suite that’s easy for new users to use, but it’s also important to have choices for advanced users who want more. The best thing about Windows Defender is that you don’t have to install it. When Windows is up and running, Windows Defender will automatically turn on the best protection settings, so you can sit back, browse, and stream without thinking about security threats. Malwarebytes is the antivirus program with the most similar layout to Windows Defender.
It has the same clean, white-and-blue dashboard that doesn’t feel cluttered and puts the most-used choices in front of you. You can get to Windows Defender through the Windows Security panel, which is part of the system settings for Windows. The first screen shows how your system’s protection is doing. If everything is going well, you can see green ticks. When something needs your attention, it shows up in yellow. When something is very important, a red alert shows up.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus: Performance
Microsoft Defender Antivirus used to be just another antivirus program that kept you safe until you could run real internet security software. Now, it’s the standard by which all other security programs are judged. Its recent test results have been great, but its most recent performance wasn’t quite as good as that of competitors Avast, GData, and McAfee.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus got perfect protection scores from AV-TEST and SELabs. In the most current real-world detection test from AV Comparatives, it got a 99.5% defense rating with one false positive. AV-TEST also tests how well a system works, and the results show that Defender can slow down a system more than some third-party anti-malware solutions. This is especially noticeable on low-end systems when apps are installed or files are copied, while competitors like Avast leave much less of a trace.
Microsoft Defender Antivirus: Pros and Cons
All Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices come with Microsoft Defender Antivirus, which is an antivirus program. It is a free antivirus program that works well and protects well from malware, ransomware, and other threats.
- Built into Windows
- Always on if no other antivirus is present
- A lot of device security features
- Cloud backup storage
- No VPN
- No password manager
Microsoft Defender is a good security program that many people could use as their main line of defense. It stopped every piece of malware I tried to download in real time, but on-demand checking wasn’t as fast. It has almost no effect on how well a PC works, which makes it very easy to use. Microsoft Defender Antivirus is so good right now that there’s not much point in running third-party antivirus software, unless you want something like Symantec’s Norton 360 Deluxe that has a lot of extra features or uses a lot less of your system’s resources.