Microsoft Windows Defender

“Windows’ own built-in security is actually very good”


Built into Windows 8/8.1/10 | Available for Windows Vista/7 as Microsoft Security Essentials | Will run on any Windows system | Bootable Windows Defender Offline rescue disk available as separate download


    • Excellent Windows 10 interface
    • Very good malware detection performance
    • No need to install third-party software


    • System impact is not as low as you might anticipate

Microsoft’s Windows Defender — the default virus protection built into Windows 7 and over — has gone from strength to strength in recent decades, and its performance in recent evaluations by multiple independent companies has been conspicuously great.

Its effects on system performance are not bad and are very likely to be unnoticeable on many PCs. In actuality, it slows down site launches noticeably less than many of its rivals. But using it in favor of third-party applications may not offer the type of performance boost you would hope for.

AV-Comparatives’ performance evaluations discovered that every single other free antivirus package had less of an effect on overall system performance than Windows Defender, which especially slowed file copying and setup operations. AV-TEST’s results confirm the slow setup times, even though the firm had fewer problems with file copies.

Windows Defender’s look and attributes vary depending on which version of the operating system you are running it on. Windows 10’s Windows Defender Security Centre opens onto a house screen with a summary of your security status, such as when Defender last updated and scanned for malware.

Additionally, it has dedicated tabs for various capabilities. Virus and hazard protection is home to your normal quick, complete and custom scans, plus an intensive offline scanning mode to handle hard-to-remove threats. You can manually update virus definitions and enable or disable options like cloud-based protection and real-time protection — the latter is not a fantastic idea.

The device performance and health section monitor anything which may go wrong with your system over time and provides you with a ‘New start’ option that reinstalls Windows while keeping your files and many settings.

The firewall has its own tab where you are able to open ports, configure alarms and set different settings for public and private networks. App and browser control lets you set the strictness of Microsoft’s SmartScreen utility, which may warn against or block programs that Microsoft’s remote confirmation service has not seen before.

You can even disable alarms from Defender through the Virus & hazard protection settings, giving it a very welcome quiet detection mode.

Parental controls can be located under Family options. These provide account and device management for kids who use Windows devices, letting you enable content filtering to the web, control the programs they set up and the amount of time they spend in front of the display.

Ransomware protection and file recovery are recently added features which rely on Microsoft OneDrive as a secure backup target, although you only get 5GB of free space.

Although Windows Defender has not always had the best performance through time, recent test results have been excellent.

In AV-TEST’s latest results, it protected against all reference samples and nearly all real-world malware vulnerability tests over a two month period — falling to 99.9percent in February’s real-world malware vulnerability test. AV-Comparatives’ real-world evaluations confirmed the trend, providing Windows Defender an accuracy rate of 100%.

Microsoft’s integrated antimalware package is presently so effective that, if you don’t want specific features or a small performance boost, there is very little point in installing third-party antivirus software.

System requirements:

    • 1 GB RAM or higher
    • 500 MB hard disk space
    • Display resolution of 800 x 600