Microsoft's Windows Defender antivirus was, at one time, dismissed out of hand as being inadequate for protecting your computer against malware and other viruses. But over the years, it has been dramatically improved. People ask time and again whether they actually need to pay for an additional antivirus program. Today, we'll be examining this question in a bit more detail.
Do I need additional Antivirus protection alongside Windows Defender?
Microsoft has put a lot of effort into making Windows Defender better than it was. The fact that it comes free with Windows, is an added bonus. It means that even without other antivirus software, your computer will have a degree of protection from attack. But the question is whether it provides the level of protection you really need. We all come with an in-built immune syste. But a vaccine can still be an important extra to keep us healthy, over and above the free pre-installed package. Does this principle apply to Windows Defender?
Well, according to tests run by AV-comparitives and av-test.org earlier this year, Windows Defender performed fairly well. It also includes many of the features that people want from an antivirus. It can flag phishing sites, detect malware, and block exploits, for example.
However, it wasn't the best antivirus out there. Also, there have been occasions where Microsoft have issued updates that stopped it from working. This potentially leaves your computer wide-open to attack. It also missed a number of potential attacks in some of the aforementioned tests. So while it is much better than it was, it isn't as effective as some rival products.
Is it enough?
In summary, Defender will do a basic, solid job of protecting your computer. But there are plenty of other products, both for free and for a premium, that will do that same job more effectively. Many have more features, more regular updates against newly identified threats, and perform better than Defender overall.
Ultimately, it will come down to personal choice as to whether you feel Defender is all you need. For many users, Windows Defender will give them enough protection. But if there is anything on your computer you really want to protect, we'd definitely consider getting something in addition.
How to turn on Windows Defender
If you want to use Windows Defender, the good news is that it works pretty much automatically. If you have another antivirus installed, then it turns itself off. And if you remove that other antivirus software, it automatically switches back on. It will run on your Windows 10 computer as soon as you turn the PC on for the first time. But if you do want to do this manually:
- Press the Start button.
- Click the Settings button on the left side of the start menu.
- Click Update and Security.
- On the left side click Windows Defender.
- Slide the button under Real-time Protection to On or Off.
And there you have it. Windows Defender. A good starting point for antivirus protection on your PC. But whether it is enough for your needs? That's a decision only you can make.