How good is Windows Defender to protect my computer?

Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
CEO & Founder
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  • Windows Defender is a built-in Windows 10 antivirus software.
  • As a free antivirus, Windows Defender offers good protection with minimal system strain.
  • If your Windows Defender is not working as it should, check out the guides on our Troubleshooting Section.
  • To learn how to protect your computer against viruses and other online threats, visit our comprehensive Antivirus Section.
how good is windows defender
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If you are looking to install a reliable antivirus on your Windows 10 computer but don’t know which is the best free antivirus, you might be overlooking the fact that the built-in Windows Defender could be the best solution.

Even though many users swear by third-party antivirus solutions, Windows Defender should not be cast aside, as the software comes pre-installed on all Windows 10 devices for free and has received several improvements in the last few years.

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Windows Defender does a swell job protecting my Windows PC

is windows defender good

Microsoft has done a really good job upgrading a lot of the functions that Windows Defender comes with. Now having included ransomware protection, browser control, and device performance, the built-in antivirus can hold its own against most other antivirus utilities.

In the battle for the best free Windows antivirus between Windows Defender and Avast, Maximum PC choose Avast, but here’s what they said about Windows Defender:

Avast wins this bout by taking three of the five categories and tying in another, though it’s not quite as lopsided as it appears. Windows Defender, while not as fully featured as Avast, is capable of blocking common threats, and it doesn’t put a drain on system resources. Avast’s army of defenses is just bigger and better trained to spot danger from more places, like IM clients. It also has a bigger arsenal of weapons.

Of course, if you want extra protection or more features like email scanning, parental controls, or machine learning to automatically block malware, then you might be better served by a third-party antivirus solution.

Antivirus that can replace Windows Defender

BullGuard Antivirus

As a third-party antivirus solution to replace Windows Defender, we recommend a tried and tested alternative: BullGuard.

Similarly to Windows Defender, BullGuard has little to no impact on your system and it will quietly work in the background to provide the best level of security one can hope for.

On top of the features that are offered by Windows Defender, by using BullGuard, you can benefit from more specialized tools that encompass functionalities topically obtained by using several programs:

  • Antiphishing
  • Advanced Machine Learning
  • Game Booster
  • Parental Controls
  • PC Optimization

Of course, the list doesn’t end there. For a more complete overview of the benefits of using BullGuard, read our comprehensive review. Also, keep in mind that you can try out BullGuard for 30 days, completely free , and with full functionality.



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Let us know in the comments what do you prefer: Windows Defender or third-party security software?

FAQ: Microsoft Defender

  • What is Windows Defender?

Windows Defender is the built-in antivirus software for Windows 10.  Our analysis will tell if it can protect you from malware.

  • Is Windows Defender enough?

Whilst Windows Defender is a free antivirus for Windows, some think that a third-party solution is better. We’ve gone over both of these approaches in our guide to see which is the better option.

  • How to turn on Windows Defender?

Sometimes Windows Defender can stop working and therefore leave you unprotected. This guide will show you how to turn it back on and fix it permanently.

  • How to turn off Windows Defender?

There are several ways to turn off Windows Defender. You can either stop some of its functionality or completely turn it off. The steps to do this are listed in our step-by-step guide.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in December 2013 and was revamped and updated in June 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
  • While I cannot argue that Microsoft shipping some type of security of is the box beginning with Windows 8 is a good idea (it is!), the issue is actual protection rate versus resources consumed. If one has CCleaner, the ‘Windows Defender’ checkbox will show just how many complete scans of one’s system was performed over a few hours of usage, as well as logs, if opened.

    Yet Windows Defender has never blocked known Malware loaded pages in my experience, and have tested time after time. I’ll have Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Pro Lifetime Edition) installed as a backup, which is now considered a complete AV+AM solution (although always wasn’t the case). To get to my point, Defender allowed me to roam freely w/out intervention & let MBAM do all the work, was visiting non-family friendly sites right & left, many of which infects untold millions of computers per year, and Defender (nor MSE on Windows 7) didn’t so much as block a page.

    This is sad, because when MSE was released around the same time as Windows 7, was an excellent no-cost security choice & drew many positive reviews by Tech writers, only to be watered down badly by the time Windows 8 shipped in 2012.

    While Defender may be OK for a student performing their homework (although not on social sites), it’s not OK for those who travels widely all over the Internet (other than the ‘dark Web’ which I don’t dare visit). a true anti-Malware app needs to be installed alongside to ensure maximum protection, and if traveling, a VPN won’t harm either.

    Remember, Windows Defender (not related to the spyware app for XP/Vista/W7 with same same) is only baseline security, meaning while it’s better than none, won’t be racking up awards on sites such as AV-Comparatives, which uses Defender as a measuring stick for the rest of the pack.

    If one cannot afford to pay for security & can put up with a few popups, some of which may be controlled in the UI, Avast is untouchable, fully featured & now offers a boot time scan that can catch things that can’t be while Windows is running (same applies to defrag). The pagefile cannot be defragmented while in use, so some defrag tools will offer the ‘boot time’ choice that will. I suspect that these aren’t the only software choices that offers a boot time run & the list will grow. While Avast first offered boot time scan many years back, as well as not a Rescue CD (for Free users also), they likely won’t be the last.

    To be honest, I prefer the boot time defrag over the bootable Linux Rescue CD, some of these has been known to flag false positives & render the system unbootable. I’ve never had that issue with Avast with over a decade of use.

    Final thoughts & conclusion, if one truly values their security, perform Full drive backup images often, store files of importance off of the computer onto any other media, and replace (or add an anti-Malware layer alongside of) Windows Defender.


  • will never use Norton or avg again. both messed up my pc and got worse after I removed them. also as a parting gift from Norton it completely disabled my windows defender beyond repair and disable my pc to the point I had to reinstall system and programs.

  • i know im a little late on commenting but i feel when i run norton or avast or avg with my defender, it slows my computer down sooo bad!

    • If running any 3rd party security, Defender should be shut down. Normally this is automatic, sometimes will remain on & has to be manually shut down. Doesn’t have to be disabled, just stop the service & set to manual. That should free a lot of resources, as Defender is indeed heavy.