With Windows 10 Windows Defender Antivirus more comprehensive, complex


Q: It is my understanding that Windows Defender Antivirus gives Windows users the same basic protections that you get from other free antivirus programs like Avast Free Edition and AVG Free Edition. Is this correct?

— Earl F., location not provided

A: Windows Defender Antivirus (known simply as Windows Defender in the past) is a fully capable means of antivirus protection for Windows PCs.

Is it a replacement for other free versions of threat prevention, like the aforementioned AVG Free Edition and Avast Free Edition? Yes and no, but that also depends on your computing environment and what you like to do with your system.

If you remember, Windows Defender started out as a piece of add-on software that came pre-installed on Windows PCs. At first, it really just served as a second-level on-demand scanning system for basic malware detection — and, honestly speaking, it wasn’t very good at that job.

Over the years however, and especially since the release of Windows 10, Windows Defender has evolved into a more complex and comprehensive means of system protection. In addition to the name upgrade, it has also added a number of high-end features to its formerly one-note services, which when combined place its capabilities closer to what you’d find with paid antivirus titles, including Norton, Kaspersky and the like, than with its fellow free antivirus counterparts. Current features for the program include real-time threat detection, firewall and network protection, protection from phishing sites, hardware security monitoring, and parental controls, to name but a few.

Because of that, and the free price tag for Windows users, it has drawn a lot of attention of late as a potential replacement for both paid or free antivirus programs.

And in many ways, it most certainly can fill that void.

According to research via security-centered sites like SafetyDetectives.com and PCMag.com, Windows Defender Antivirus fared favorably in comparisons between it and other similar programs, and in testing it performed very well in stopping many common threats, particularly those targeting Microsoft-built programs and systems.

For most people who use their PCs simply for computing basics like document creation, surfing the web, email sending and receiving, file and image storage, and video and music streaming, that may be enough to keep them safe most of the time.

But that may not be the case for those who venture away some from the standard Windows setup on their computers.

According to those same sources, Windows Defender Antivirus did not perform as well as its competitors, including both paid and free titles, when it came to protecting systems using non-Microsoft-created programs and features. These tests showed that those who used Microsoft’s Edge browser for surfing the web and Outlook for email received a stronger level of protection from Windows Defender Antivirus than those who, for example, used Firefox to surf the web and Thunderbird for email. This latter group, it should be noted, received greater protection from security options built into the non-Microsoft-created programs they used, such as browser security in Chrome and Thunderbird SPAM filtering, than they did from Windows Defender Antivirus.

For those interested, here are links to the studies referenced here:



Despite this, both sources still praised Microsoft Defender Antivirus as a whole, especially when compared to where the title stood just a few years back. But those same accolades seem to come with an asterisk: Simply put, if you prefer to use only the programs that come with your Windows PC and/or Microsoft-created software (and these are plentiful, including Word, Outlook, Edge and more), then Windows Defender Antivirus would make a great free option for your system protection. But if you prefer non-Microsoft-based programs (i.e. Chrome, Thunderbird, LibraOffice, etc.) then it may be best to look elsewhere.

Eyal Goldshmid

Eyal Goldshmid

Having said this, keep in mind that most of the tests were run by people who work in technology, so they are testing qualities in the program that most everyday users would never deal with. So the information provided should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, no antivirus is foolproof, no matter who makes it and how much you spend on it, and in the end smart and safe computing choices almost always keep you free from infections or threats — a good antivirus program and anti-malware scanner simply add extra layers of incentive in case those other methods fail, which does happen to everyone on occasion.

For more information on Windows Defender Antivirus, including full system specs, capabilities, and download and installation instructions, visit the following URL: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/comprehensive-security

Contact Eyal Goldshmid@[email protected]

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Windows Defender Antivirus providing more and better protection


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