Is Windows defender enough for virus protection on Windows 10 ?

Windows Defender is an antivirus software bundled with Windows 8 and Windows 10 to essentially protect computers again malware attacks.

Windows Defender was first released in 2006 as an antispyware program for Windows 7 and Windows Vista users. Its primary role by then was to protect systems against spyware. This kept the systems safe from spy programs but on the other hand vulnerable to malware attacks.

As a solution to the malware attacks on the systems, Microsoft developed an antivirus software called Microsoft Security Essentials which was made available for download at the Microsoft official site.
Microsoft Security Essentials performed all Windows defender tasks and much more. This made it much better than Windows Defender.

Later in 2012, an improved version of Windows Defender was released with Windows 8 with enhanced features including protection against spyware, virus protection and firewall for network security.
The new Windows Defender came with an easy to use dashboard called Windows Defender Security Center where configurations can be changed from.

But Is Windows Defender enough for virus protection in Windows 10?

How effective is Windows Defender?

These are two questions that many Windows users ask. I also had these same questions. So I decided to make some research and I managed to put together got some helpful information which I think would get these two questions answered. I believe by the end of this article, you’ll have an understanding of how Windows Defender works and whether or not it is enough for security in Windows 10.

Most of Windows users out there just have a mindset that they should always install third-party antivirus programs after a fresh Windows installation. Well, this was the case back in the days but days have changed. With the new Windows Defender technology, You got to think before rushing into unnecessary installations of additional antivirus programs.

As I told you earlier, starting with the 2012 release with Windows 8, Windows Defender came with enhanced security technology and features that you can just be good without installing additional antivirus programs as long as you have the proper configurations.

The Independent IT-Security Institute of Germany periodically carries Antivirus tests on various antivirus programs. According to the most recent tests in October 2018, Microsoft Defender was one of the best-performing programs with a 6 out of 6 in protection, 5.5 out of 6 in performance, and 6 out of 6 in usability.

However, if you’re that person who’s always downloading torrents and every other little thing from the internet, I recommend pairing the Windows Defender antivirus with Malwarebytes an anti-malware program.

The reason I recommend Malwarebytes is that Windows Defender has proven to be so great at detecting and eliminating viruses but when it comes to malware at large, its a little bit reluctant. This is what Malwarebytes is great at

Malwarebytes provides a free version of the program which can later be upgraded to a premium version. But even with a free version, you can do just fine. Personally, I have used the free version for some time and have got no issues.

Windows Defender has the following features

Windows Defender features

Virus and threat protection.

This provides the Scan feature which allows the user to scan the computer for potential threats and then clean them up.

It has the Real-time protection feature which locates any kind of malware running either from a downloaded file or from an external storage device and then eliminates it. This same feature ensures that external storage devices are scanned before performing any operation with them.

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The cloud-delivered protection feature ensures up to date information of Windows Defender. This includes accessing the cloud database for newly discovered viruses and then updating the local Windows Defender database.

The automatic sample submission feature makes it possible to update the Microsoft virus cloud database for newly discovered threats.

Note: All the above features should be turned on for best results from virus protection

Virus and threat protection also allows the user to exclude files that should be excluded during occasional scans

The protection Updates feature allows the user to update virus signatures manually. However, there is no need to manually update since Windows frequently updates when the computer is connected to the internet.

Virus and threat protection settings in Windows defender

Device performance and health

This performs health and performance checks on the system and then gives a report on the performance and health conditions of various components which include storage devices, battery, and device drivers.

It also provides a Frest start feature which allows the user to perform start fresh with a clean and up to date information and to also remove suspicious programs and settings.

Device performance and health settings in Windows Defender

Firewall and network protection

This feature ensures that the computer is fully protected while it’s connected to a network. This involves blocking of potentially harmful domains, protection from malware attacks from computers connected on the same private and public networks.

Firewall and network protection settings in Windows defender

In the next section, I managed to put together the pros and cons of Windows Defender that you should know


  • Simple user interface. The Windows Defender interface is simple enough for a user to use since there is no much customization needed.
  • Free access. All windows 10 and 8 versions are pre-installed with Windows defender and so there is no need to purchase or upgrade to a premium version as the case with most of the antivirus programs.
  • No distractive pop-ups. This is one of the most irritating behaviors in most of the antivirus programs out there. Windows Defender performs everything in the background and in case of any message, a notification only appears in the notification section rather than abrupt pop-ups on the screen. This makes it user-friendly.
  • No need to perform manual scans. Windows Defender is configured to automatically scan the computer and eliminate any threats without any user intervention.
  • It uses fewer resources compared to other antivirus software. Resources are measured in terms of how much of the computer’s memory and storage it uses. Windows Defender does not utilize much memory nor space.
  • No adverts displayed. Windows Defender displays no adverts as the case in most of the other antivirus programs.
  • It provides both malware and virus protection. Some security programs offer one of the two capabilities.


  • A full scan of the system is often slow and worse with a computer having limited resources like less memory. This, in turn, may slow down the whole system.
  • The malware protection is not as much good as virus protection. Its why I recommend pairing Windows Defender with Malwarebytes.
  • Sometimes blocks the installation of threat-free programs.


Having looked into the features, pros, and cons of Windows Defender. With this information, I believe you realize how efficient Windows Defender is and I believe Windows Defender is enough for virus protection in Windows 10 and Windows 8 computer.

In this final section, I managed to compile for you a list of the best free Windows Defender alternatives, that’s is if you don’t feel your computer is safe enough with Windows Defender. I compiled this list based on the most recent Antivirus tests by the Independent IT-Security Institute.

The free Antivirus programs listed all have premium versions that cost a couple of dollars but you can still be safe with the free version in case you don’t need to add this to your budget. The premium versions only provide a few additional features that you can examine and decide whether you need them. Without wasting any more time, let’s get to the list

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Best free Windows Defender alternatives

Note: While installing a third-party antivirus program on your Windows 10 PC. Keep in mind that this will automatically disable Windows Defender.


BitDefender Antivirus free edition

BitDefender tops the list. Its no doubt, BitDefender has a very basic dashboard that doesn’t need setting up after download. There is no scheduling scans, your work is essentially done after the installation. This makes it work all kinds of people, from the computer beginners to the experts.

BitDefender AV-Test results

Protection test– The protection measure was accomplished by installing a number of malware programs on a computer running BitDefender and then waited to see if the program detected all the affected programs and eliminated them.

BitDefender’s security seemed to be safe as it detected all malware programs and eliminated them, therefore, having a score of 6 out of 6 in protection

Performance test– The performance measure included measuring how fast it took for a full scan to complete and how much of the computer resources the antivirus program used.

The time for a full scan was relatively fast and the program. Relatively low computer resources were used which included less disk space and low memory usage. BitDefender scored a 6 out of 6 under the performance measure.

Usability test – the usability measure was based on the general user experience. BitDefender’s basic dashboard and the automatic set up earned it the points on this one. Additionally, BitDefender does not make pop-ups as most of the other programs as most of the work is done from the background, neither does it constantly pressure the user for an upgrade.

Kaspersky Antivirus

Kaspersky free edition

Some of you are surprised to see Kaspersky on the list as a free antivirus program. Even though Kaspersky is most famous for its paid version of the antivirus, it also provides a free version. Unlike BitDefender, Kaspersky provides additional settings that the user can alter which include scheduling a scan.

Kaspersky AV-Test results

Protection test – A computer loaded with Kaspersky antivirus managed to detect and eliminate all the malware programs that were installed on it thus passing the protection test with a 6 out of 6.

Performance test – The time it took for Kaspersky to perform a full scan was relatively less consuming less disk space and memory and therefore the computer’s resources were not over-utilized. Kaspersky then scored a 6 out of 6 in the performance test.

Usability test – Even though Kaspersky has additional settings, it still has a basic and an easy to use dashboard. The free version does not constantly pressure the user to upgrade to a premium version. The usability score was 6 out of 6.

Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Free Antivirus is one of the most famous free antivirus programs. It’s, therefore, no doubt that I have it on the list. Even though Avast has a common issue of constant pop-ups, its protection from malware is remarkable.

Avast AV-Test results

Protection test – A computer loaded with Avast detected and eliminated all the test malware programs before the system files were affected. It, however, confused some of the safe programs for threats. This made its score of 5.5 out of 6.

Performance test – Avast’s full scan was relatively fast. Limited computer resources were used by the program. However, the constant pop-ups reduced the performance measure to 5.5 out of 6.

Usability test – Most of the antivirus settings are set by default and therefore the user can live without having to alter any settings and still get desired results. Avast scored 6 out 6 in the usability test.

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