Is Windows 10 Microsoft’s Windows Defender Good Enough for your?

When the Windows 10 is installed, you will have Microsoft’s Windows Defender antivirus program already in. Windows Defender comes built-in to Windows 10, its scans open programs automatically, downloads new definitions from Windows Update, and provides an interface you can use for in-depth ongoing scanning.

But the million pound question is, how good is it? The truth must be told, Microsoft’s antivirus a bit behind the others when it comes to comparative antivirus software tests.

The Windows Defender has lots of advantages, like; It’s built in, won’t harass you with pop-ups and requests for money, and its much lighter than other competing antivirus softwares. And it won’t attempt to harvest your browsing data and make money from it, some of the free antivirus programs have started make a profit of selling your data. 

But overall, the Windows Defender provides not bad protection at all, assuming you keep Windows up to date, use an up to date browser and avoid potentially dangerous plugins like Java. Brief advice, you should be following the standard computer security practices a long way and Windows Defender combines that with a baseline of protection. 

Windows Defender receives fairly low “scores” in antivirus rankings, just 3.5 out of 6 from AV TEST and the vague but not very complimentary “tested” from AV Comparatives. However, when it comes to actual statistics, AV TEST found that it still caught 99 percent of the “widespread and prevalent malware” in October 2015, along with 95 percent of the zero day attacks. AV-Comparatives real-world protection tests found that it caught 94.5% of threats. That’s decent, although still lower than almost every other option (and when you consider AV-Comparatives’ sample size of 1517 threats, it meant that 89 threats still got through).

BitDefender and Kaspersky, on the other hand, managed to protect against 100 percent of AV-TEST’s zero day threats, and 99.9% percent of both AV TEST and AV-Comparatives’ real world tests.  

In the past, Microsoft has alleged that it focuses on malware that’s actually prevalent in the real world while the tests aren’t representative and other antivirus vendors tune their products to do well in tests. Microsoft employees don’t generally comment on test results any more, however.

Windows 10 also includes various other protections introduced in Windows 8, like the SmartScreen filter that should prevent you from downloading and running malware, whatever antivirus you use. Chrome and Firefox also include Google’s Safe Browsing, which blocks many malware downloads. 

In short Windows Defender isn’t bad, it just isn’t as good as your other options. However, it’s by far the least intrusive, considering most other antivirus programs comebundled with crapware, install problematic browser extensions, and contain occasional popup ads.

If you’re following common sense and other good security practices, then the Windows Defender may work for you depending on your circumstances. However, if you’re regularly downloading pirated applications or engaging in other high risk behaviours, you may want to skip Windows Defender and get something that does better against the collection of obscure malware samples used to test antivirus software.