I am often asked about anti-virus software and, more specifically, if the built-in Windows Defender is good enough to protect your computer.
Windows Defender is built into Windows 10 and 11 and is designed to protect you against viruses and Malware.
In addition, its various components will defend you against identity theft, safeguard your network from Trojan horses, and ensure data does not become corrupted.
The confusion around whether it is good is due to a combination of poor past performance and lack of brand recognition as an anti-virus product.
Before Windows 10, the product was known as Security Essentials and only covered virus detection.
It was terrible and was almost always at the bottom of every virus detection test. From Windows 10, it was rebranded to Windows Defender, and a whole suite of additional protection and detection technologies was added.
It now offers real-time anti-virus protection using cloud-based artificial Intelligence. Microsoft analyses billions of threats and is now one of the top-rated virus detection tools scoring 100 per cent detection across most testing companies.
Similarly, its Malware and Spyware detection achieves 100 per cent in most tests. In 2020 Microsoft Defender was given top ranking by an independent test lab (AV-Test) with a perfect score, having detected and protected against new widespread Malware.
Defender also includes parental control features that allow you to monitor and control what your kids are doing online and locally on the PC.
It will filter websites based on the controls you put in place, give you usage reports and allow you to monitor children in real-time.
A recent feature is controlled folder access. It protects critical folders and files against untrusted applications, providing additional protection against ransomware.
Defender is also a firewall and analyses outgoing and incoming traffic to your PC, ensuring you do not download malware or access unsavoury websites.
Microsoft invests heavily in Windows Defender and regularly brings out new features.
The short answer to whether it is good enough as stand-alone protection is yes. In many cases, it is better than most of its competitors. The main difference between Defender and other well know brands are primarily options the other packages may include. For example, many other packages include a password management tool, which adds an additional layer of protection for you.
For the majority of home users, Microsoft Defender is all they need. It is built-in, free, simple to use, and managed by Microsoft AI cloud security.