Security Windows

4 Reasons to Use Windows Defender in Windows 10

Joel Lee 24-08-2016

We all know that Windows needs some kind of security software 4 Cyber Security Myths That Must Die Read More — the only trouble is deciding which security software to use The Best Antivirus Software for Windows 10 Want to tighten security on your PC? Here are the best antivirus software options for Windows 10. Read More . Yes, even if you’re up to date on Windows Updates and such, you still need proper security protection 4 Security Misconceptions That You Need To Realize Today There is a lot of malware and online security misinformation online, and following these myths can be dangerous. If you've taken any as truth, it's time to get the facts straight! Read More !


In the past, Windows Defender was overshadowed by other options Windows Defender: 7 Things You Must Know About Microsoft's Antivirus Solution Is Microsoft's built-in security good enough? Microsoft continuously improves its security tools. We'll show you the upsides and downsides of Windows Defender in Windows 8, Read More , but it’s been getting better over the years. In fact, it’s one of the things that make modern versions of Windows more secure than previous versions Windows 8 Is The Most Secure Version Yet: Here’s Why Read More .

And now that the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 9 Windows 10 Anniversary Update Features You'll Love Are you still on the fence about the Windows 10 Anniversary Update? We have summarized the most important new features. Be sure to try all of them if you've already upgraded! Read More brought several much-needed improvements, Windows Defender is quite a contender. Here are a few reasons why you should consider using it.

1. It’s Built Into the OS

At first this might seem like a silly point, but it’s not as stupid or empty as it sounds. There are a handful of benefits to Windows Defender being integrated directly into the operating system itself.

For starter, there’s no need to download or install anything. If you’re using Windows 10, you already have Windows Defender residing on your system. You don’t have to seek it out. Just turn it on.



There’s also no need to manage separates updates. When new builds of Windows Defender are made available, they’re retrieved using Windows Update — something that you should already be using How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10 For control freaks, Windows Update is a nightmare. It works in the background, and keeps your system safe and running smoothly. We show you how it works and what you can customize. Read More — so you never have to worry about it being outdated.

Windows Defender integrates with the system itself:

And just because it’s built-in doesn’t mean it’s bad. Let’s not forget that third-party alternatives have had their fair share of security blunders in the past too, including big names like Symantec and Norton.

2. It’s Free Without Nag Screens

“It’s free!” usually isn’t enough of a reason to use something — lots of crap is available without a price tag — so when we look around for free software, what we’re really looking for is “free and good enough”.


We’ll cover the “good enough” aspect of Windows Defender in the reasons down below, but first let’s take a moment to explore how Windows Defender is truly free.

Like we mentioned before, Windows Defender is built into the operating system itself so you don’t have to pay anything extra to use it. But unlike other free security programs, this one sidesteps two big issues that usually arise.


First, most security programs come in free and paid versions, and this means that the free version tends to be limited — or even crippled — in some way. You might get real-time detection but no way to remove malware, for example.


Second, security software is a business where money is the bottom line, and this often manifests in the form of “nag screens” that ask you to fork over cash for paid upgrades and advanced features.

Windows Defender is completely free with all features available and never nags you to upgrade to a paid version — because such a thing doesn’t exist.

3. It’s Complete With Advanced Features

A lot of people still view Windows Defender as the primitive and underdeveloped program that it was when it first debuted with Windows XP, but a lot has changed since then. It’s full-featured now.

Real-Time Malware Protection

Windows Defender is a real-time solution that quietly runs in the background as you use your computer. It actively looks for malware currently running on your system, and if detected will block it, and quarantine it.


Reassuringly, you can go through your quarantine history and restore falsely blocked programs if Windows Defender makes a mistake.

It will also scan files and installers to prevent malware from entering your system and embedding itself before it’s too late. If you want to exclude certain files and folders from this scanning behavior, you can.

Cloud-Based Updates

The hard part about computer security is that anti-malware software is always one step behind actual malware, so the most vulnerable period is when a new bit of malware is first released (zero-day exploits and the like 5 Ways to Protect Yourself from a Zero-Day Exploit Zero-day exploits, software vulnerabilities that are are exploited by hackers before a patch becomes available, pose a genuine threat to your data and privacy. Here is how you can keep hackers at bay. Read More ).

That’s why you should keep Windows Defender’s cloud-based protection on. This sends reports on newly detected malware back to Microsoft so they can develop new detection rules that are then applied to all Windows Defender users How to Use Windows Defender Malware Protection on Windows 10 Like any Windows operating system, Windows 10 is open to abuse and vulnerable to online threats. Security software is mandatory. Windows Defender is a good place to start and we guide you through the setup. Read More .

This is as close as we can get to real-time updates of malware definitions.

Offline Scanning

Sometimes a really pesky malware infection can’t be cleaned while the operating system is running. When this happens, Windows Defender can reboot your computer and clean everything prior to loading Windows.

Prior to the Anniversary Update this feature (known as Windows Defender Offline) was only available if you had a bootable disk, but now you can run it hassle-free right from the Settings app.

Limited Periodic Scanning

If you really want to use another piece of security software, there’s no need to disable Windows Defender entirely now that it has a new feature called Limited Periodic Scanning.

This feature integrates with the Automatic Maintenance feature of Windows 10 to run a scan for malware during times when you aren’t using your computer. You can manually set scan times in the Control Panel.

With it enabled, Windows Defender can find and dispatch malware infections that may have been missed by whatever other security programs you’re using without interfering with them and causing conflicts.

4. It’s On-Par With Other Options

If you have sensitive data on your machine, or if you’re working in a business environment, or if you’re wary of Microsoft’s growing privacy issues Everything You Need to Know About Windows 10's Privacy Issues While Windows 10 has some issues that users need to be aware of, many claims have been blown out of proportion. Here's our guide to everything you need to know about Windows 10's privacy issues. Read More , then okay — Windows Defender may not be the best fit for you.

But for the other 99% of us, it’s more than enough. In April 2016, Windows Defender was found to have a 99.8% detection rate in malware prevalence testing. That seems pretty darn good to me.


Now, you might be able to point to a handful of paid solutions that have better detection rates and what not, but would that really be a fair comparison? Perhaps if Windows Defender required a subscription… but it doesn’t. Let’s compare apples to apples.

The truth is that most home users are using free security suites instead The 5 Best Free Internet Security Software for Windows Need antivirus, anti-malware, and real-time security? Here are the best free internet security software for Windows. Read More and when you compare Windows Defender to those applications, it actually performs better than you’d expect — and for home users, that’s more than enough.

Practical PC security isn’t about living inside a nuclear bunker that can withstand the worst of the worst. It’s about making sure your front door is locked when you’re sleeping.

Windows Defender: It’s Good Enough

At the end of the day, we need to listen to the experts and start using up-to-date security software 8 Tips for Online Safety Used by Security Experts Want to stay safe online? Then forget everything you think you know about passwords, antivirus and online security because it's time to be retrained. Here's what the experts actually do. Read More — and for most of us, Windows Defender is more than “good enough” to get the job done. It’s better than its reputation would suggest.

One more thing: Judging the efficacy of your security software by how many threats it detects is misguided. In fact, if you’re practicing good security habits Change Your Bad Habits & Your Data Will Be More Secure Read More , your security software should rarely detect anything! Just something to think about.

How do you feel about Windows Defender? If you don’t use it, why not? What do you use instead? Share with us below and help us to understand your position!

Related topics: Online Security, Windows Defender.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Chris Cummings USA Ret.
    August 19, 2019 at 12:36 am

    Malwarebytes Premium 3.0 works for me on all 4 dell pcs. If extra security is needed by all means let the 2 run together side by side. Never had any conflicts or slow downs with both. Malwarebytes is different and does not cause any problems. It May with other big bloated av software that hooks deep into windows and in my opinion cause issues. I stopped running Windows 10 Defender with real time protection and just use it to scan periodically. It seems Malwarebytes is all that I need. That being said Defender and Malwarebytes are a terrific team. One more weapon to consider and please do not laugh is the Free edition of Superantispyware. It picks up things that the other 2 may seem unimportant like tracing cookies. You do not need the paid edition.

  2. Bilwediz
    June 4, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Windows Defender is now top class, no need for third party software. Its now achieving 100% in every Test (June 2018). The introduction of Israeli Technology the likes of Hexadite and several others means Defender competes with all the Bigboys and even outshines some. The black interface with the blue and white print is good its fully comprehensive and can only get better. The top brass promised us this and have stood by their word well done Redmond

  3. Bilwediz
    January 7, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    I hope Joel does work for Microsoft he is obviously a Genius

  4. Squalle
    June 22, 2017 at 10:33 am

    WD tends to just delete anything that it THINKS may be virus related. I put a text file with the cd keys onto DVD with the programs for them and by the time I went to open the file, it was gone, deleted. It wasn't in quarantine, it wasn't in any log file, it didn't say, "hey, I got this for you". It was just gone.

  5. Mikeg
    June 5, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Good article. I've been using Windows Defender and Malwarebytes together for more than a year now. With both products continuing to improve and play well together, I believe it's an increasingly popular combination. I turn on Defender cloud-based protection as mentioned in the article and use Malwarebytes 3 Premium to get the full integrated suite with automatic scanning.

    One thing I haven't found, but would love to see is a comprehensive test of this combination of Windows Defender and Malwarebytes Premium running together.

  6. Paul Coddington
    June 5, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Another advantage of Windows Defender is that 3rd party products seem to be designed and tested for "typical" users. That is, typical users who do not have developer tools, do not install Visual Studio, SQL Server, IIS, or enable non-default Windows services and features.

    One might presume that in-house testing ensures that Windows Defender works with all built-in Windows features and all Microsoft developer tools. At least, I hope so.

    Microsoft also puts a lot of work into ensuring that all major 3rd party productivity software is not broken by new versions of Windows, because even if the 3rd party developer is completely at fault, Microsoft will end up wearing the blame.

    Unfortunately, it is quite common for 3rd party antivirus and firewall products to break things, sometimes in ways that are difficult to troubleshoot.

    Even if the product can be tweaked, working out what settings need to be changed and creating a list of rules for IDS and firewall that restore functionality without compromising security is a non-trivial problem (presuming that the product can even be successfully tweaked to fix the issues).

    A lot of time can be wasted tracking down malfunctions that would not otherwise be there.

    Add to this the severe performance loss incurred with some 3rd party products, an antivirus product can cause more loss of productivity than an actual virus would. And some vendors are simply not interested in fixing problems that affect "atypical" users.

  7. Bilwediz
    June 1, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Joel Microsoft are rumoured to be buying HEXADITE a Cyber Security firm although based in Boston their Research and Development are based in Israel. They were formed by three former members of an Elite Inteligence Army Unit of an Israeli Defence Unit. Great News when it comes to making WD stronger

  8. Bill Weddiz
    August 29, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Bilwedd Microsoft have said they are determined to make Windows 10 the most secure OS ever. The fact they have just acquired three top Israeli Cyber Security Firms shows that determination.. The Israelis are second only to the US in the number of top class Technicians in the Science and Technology World. Their Technicians are brilliant usually ex Army. Is it no wonder Windows Defender is climbing the AV Testing Table. Its getting stronger day by day. Stick with Windows Security

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:34 am

      I admit I didn't know that Microsoft acquired an Israeli cyber security firm. If that's the reason behind Windows Defender's slow but steady growth, then I say good on Microsoft for making that move. It will be interesting to see where Windows Defender ends up in a few more years.

      • William Weathers
        October 22, 2016 at 7:41 pm

        Joel to be honest I don't think Windows 10 likes any third party on its OS. Kaspersky does not cover The Edge Browser its Safe Money is deferred to IE which will eventually be phased out, other applications don't work from KIS 2017. Bitdefender keeps freezing . Windows Defender will become a really strong Security System its building a powerful signature base via the cloud. The infusion of Israeli technology was a brilliant move . Providing people are sensible (I wish Microsoft would tick safe sites) Windows Defender Smartscreen, Windows Firewall and free Malwarebytes its all you need Bilwediz

  9. VaranTavers
    August 29, 2016 at 6:19 am

    I don't want to bash Windows Defender, but the last time I saw it, it only found the malwares which malwarebytes has found during it's scan. After Malwarebytes found one, Windows Defender started reacting. I still don't trust it.

    • Rockstarrocks
      April 10, 2017 at 7:22 am

      I don't think Windows defender uses Malwarebyte's detection in anybway. Probably Malwarebyte might just have detected the malware before defender.

  10. Stephen
    August 29, 2016 at 3:37 am

    There is one important statistic missed that went with the 99.8% figure. That is protection against Zero Day attacks for Windows Defender was 88% where the industry standard is 97%.

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:33 am

      That's interesting. Could you link a source on that? I wonder if that figure is influenced by the sheer number of people who disable Windows Update and other forms of automatic updates.

    • Rockstarrocks
      April 10, 2017 at 7:26 am

      One thing i don't get is how the hell these Zero day samples are being detected upto 97%(industry avg as you said), because whenever i test these so called better A/Vs(better to say whole lot of them) they failed to detect some 20-30% samples easily. Something is fishy there.

  11. Ted
    August 26, 2016 at 12:48 am

    Real time anti-virus is largely a scam. It just slows down your file I/O. I have not run a real time anti-virus in quite some time. I realized one day after running several for years including Defender that they never caught anything, therefore either I must be doing other preventative things right or they are useless. So, I no longer run real-time anti-virus. I run Spywareblaster, Malwarebytes to scan periodically, EEK periodically, and CCE periodically and from the context menu. And I still haven't found anything except an occasional PUP.

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:32 am

      Hey Ted, if you have smart online habits then you're basically acting as your own real-time virus scanner, so you probably won't get many hits (if any). It's mainly for users who don't know the first thing about safe online habits. Plus, if you ever make a mistake or let your guard down, having a real-time scanner to back you up can be nice! But at the end of the day, if you don't think the benefits are worth it and you're sure you can be safe on your own, maybe there's no harm to disabling it.

    • bilwediz
      March 31, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      I have tried a few of the top names and they do slow Windows 10. We just hope Microsoft speed up making Defender stronger instead of adding bells and whistles nobody really wants we need Security above all

  12. F.Cisco
    August 25, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    An article about lame software that is forced on you.
    Requires a scan and nags you in notification area.
    It's a free and almost worthless software that stops virtually nothing.
    Someone got $50 for a Puff article ?

  13. Travis Weir
    August 25, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I do not think I will be making use of the new version of Windows Defender that has come enabled in the Anniversary Update. I am already a subscriber to BitDefender Total Security, Malwarebytes, and Spyhunter 4

    • Anonymous
      August 26, 2016 at 7:16 am

      I think Windows Defender works well on Windows 10. It blocked many malwares on my Laptop and keep it clean from harmful softwares.

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:29 am

      If you're happy as a subscriber to those alternatives, by all means stay with them! How do you like those antimalware solutions, Travis? Would you recommend Spyhunter?

  14. trekkerr57
    August 25, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Does Joel Lee work for Microsoft?

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:28 am

      Hmm. Am I not allowed to have opinions on things unless I also work for the companies behind said things?

  15. user1
    August 25, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    "There’s also no need to manage separates updates. When new builds of Windows Defender are made available, they’re retrieved using Windows Update — something that you should already be using — so you never have to worry about it being outdated."

    This is exactly why I can't use Windows Defender. I have the Windows Update service disabled most of the time and turn it back on when I think it's time to update. In the past I have had many more problems with Windows Update than I have had with any virus/malware.

    I usually run the free Avira.

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:27 am

      Ah, yeah, if you have Windows Update disabled then it's probably best to rely on something other than Windows Defender. As much as I fought for Windows Defender in this article, I can agree that there are times when it isn't the right choice. Thanks for sharing, User1. How do you like Avira?

  16. AEIO_
    August 25, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Windows Defender: It’s Good Enough. Yeah...JUST like Windows itself.

    I've heard of degrading software over time and BitRot, but I've never, ever seen it released from a company itself.

    Do you know the last time I had a BSOD? Years and years ago. And the last time i had the desktop (Windows Explorer aka File Explorer) crash? Years and yea....oh, 5 minutes ago. And Metro? What a piece of crap -- I've got a desktop or a server, not a phone. Give me a friggin' break.

    You want to have tiered users: phone+XBone / desktop / servers, FINE. DO SO. But don't collapse them all down to a single entity.

    And forcing all patches monthly with no exceptions? What about WHEN YOU BREAK SOMETHING? Now I can't install ANY patch w/o waiting. Easier for you, harder for me -- and I care about ME, sorry.

    You've still got corporate (AD, Office) under your thumb. But if you damage and corrupt the platform they actually use, will they still buy it?

  17. Anonymous
    August 25, 2016 at 4:27 am

    I've been using Microsoft's free antivirus since Win 7. I can't remember it actually catching anything. But my periodic scans using Malwarebytes haven't turned up anything either (except a small handful of PUP's).

    Given the above - plus the advantages Joel mentioned in the article - low resource demand, no nag screen -- I will just keep using Windows Defender and double check periodically with Malwarebytes.

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:25 am

      Yes, exactly! It's an interesting problem. Just because it doesn't catch anything doesn't mean it isn't effective. Maybe you and I just have really safe browsing habits and never run into threats. :P

    • Rockstarrocks
      April 10, 2017 at 7:31 am

      The only reason why i have moved to defender is that 3rd party A/Vs make Win10 pretty unstable. Got many BSODs with most of them, but with defender none.

  18. Tom
    August 25, 2016 at 12:59 am

    I use Avast Business Class... which is totally free, with zero nags to upgrade. I tried to do the Limited Scanning and have both live in harmony, but I'd get daily notifications that neither one was active and guarding my system... so I'd say that's a fail for having it as a backup.

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:24 am

      How do you get Avast Business Class for free, Tom? If that was an option, I'd totally consider it.

      • Janmeba
        December 16, 2016 at 11:07 pm

        Its Business means their company buying it lol

  19. Anonymous
    August 24, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    I don't think it represents adequate protection. It probably qualifies as functional for some definitions of the word, but AV-Test, and AV-comparatives both indicate that Defender is inferior to the majority of other products they test in the most current studies available.

    I usually advocate for Avast or Avira for home users, or Forticlient for small businesses where cost is an issue.

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:23 am

      Hey, I don't see Windows Defender listed in the results of either AV-Test or AV-Comparatives. Could you point me to where they've said that modern versions of Windows Defender are inferior?

  20. Jouni "rautamiekka" Järvinen
    August 24, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    #1 rule: never trust M$ with security.

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:20 am

      Imo, blindly holding an anti-stance is just as bad as blindly being a fan. I think it's better to evaluate the merits and decide based on them, not based on history.

  21. Jeffrey Bouton
    August 24, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Define "Low End". How do you determine that the latest Windows Defender in Windows 10, which reportedly performs on par with retail options, is "low end". I appreciate you being a fan of a product that you've trusted over the years, but I don't agree with your view on Windows Defender. I kind of like the integrated feel and lack of annoyances that retail products tend to push.

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:19 am

      Hey Jeffrey, I don't recall using "low end" anywhere. I think Windows Defender is good enough for most home users, and this is a good thing since most home users don't care enough about security to actually install a third-party security suite. What you've mentioned -- integrated feel and lack of nagging -- were both mentioned in the article as reasons to use Windows Defender!

  22. Alan
    August 24, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Its BitDefender for me, I just wouldnt consider anything as low end as Windows Defender. I havnt had a threat of any sort that I know of in a couple of years, that says it all for me.

    • Joel Lee
      September 14, 2016 at 3:17 am

      Nice, I think BitDefender is a fine choice. How long have you been using it? Are there any quirks or downsides that annoy you? Is it worth the price?

    • William Weathers
      October 22, 2016 at 7:24 pm

      Because of a mix up Bitdefender gave me a total of 600 days on Bitdefender Total Security every time I downloaded it after about two days it kept freezing I gave up in the end . I now just rely on Windows Defender and Free Malwarebytes everything runs great Bilwediz

      • bilwediz
        April 10, 2017 at 11:40 am

        Just looked at the latest AV test for 2017. Got a great surprise and I am buzzing Windows Defender got 100% in testing and that is 3 months on the trot Well done Microsoft we are getting there at last I did say stick with Defender absolutely brilliant. I bet it has something to do with the Israeli Techies that were brought in.