Windows Defender, does it step up to the mark?

Update Feb 2019

The original post was done in 2016 but my conclusion / opinion hasn’t changed. Windows 10 has just got better and more secure. IMO, you don’t need 3rd party antivirus/anti malware but I’ve been a very big advocate of Malwarebytes (MBAM) for many years and will always recommend that you do an occasional scan with MBAM, to make sure that “Windows Defender” (now known as “Windows Security” is doing its job because no antivirus/anti-malware is 100%.

The “Controlled Folder Access” feature (of Windows Security) is awesome, its main function to prevent the changes to “protected folders” but it can be a PITA! When installing new apps/ software, its best to temporarily disable “Controlled Folder Access” or the software might not install correctly.

IMO, Windows Defender (Windows Security) definitely steps up to the mark and exceeds!

Original 2016 post :-

For many years I was an advocate of 3rd party anti-virus /anti-malware products, with the idea that people who specialise in security would be the best option but I have have always thought that the developers of the OS ought to be the people who understand the OS and it’s weaknesses. Over the years Microsoft have been accused of not doing enough with regard to security, although that has never really been the case however, other OS vendors (Apple, Linux etc) don’t seem to need 3rd party Antivirus / security products installing! Plenty of people will offer their opinions as to why this is but I’m not one of them 🙂

I’ve personally recommended several anti-virus  / anti-malware / Internet security products over the years but when Windows 8 came along, it all changed. Microsoft were now starting to take more of an active interest in securing the OS against viruses and malware and from my own experience I found that most 3rd party AV products were actually disabling the built-in protection that Microsoft had provided, so that their products would work! I know this from personal experience where I’ve been asked to install a different AV product and ended up having to do a manual cleanup of the registry to remove all the crumbs of the previous AV product.  I’m pretty sure Apple wouldn’t allow that but hey ho.

We’re now on Windows 10 and Microsoft are now in the driving seat with regards to security and they seem to mean business. The built-in firewall is awesome although a little intimidating, it could be easier to use but generally most people don’t need to make any changes. Windows (security) updates are enforced, much to the chagrin of a lot of people but security updates is one of the best ways to protect your PC. Windows Defender is Microsofts offering for an AV product, it doesn’t need configuring or any user intervention. If your PC is left powered on, it will update the virus definition files sometimes several times per day, it runs scans automatically and IMO it does a pretty good job.

Since upgrading to Windows 8, I have used Windows Defender but have still installed Malwarebytes (MBAM) Anti-malware premium as a confirmation that Windows Defender is doing it’s job and I haven’t had any problems with viruses or malware, that I know of! I’ve used MBAM for years to remove viruses that other paid for and free AV have missed and on one occasion Windows Defender found a bogey that MBAM had missed and that impressed me a lot.

Since Windows 10, Microsoft have gone to town and taken ownership of protecting the OS and without a doubt Windows 10 is the most secure OS that Microsoft have released.  Microsoft have now created a situation similar to Apple and the Linux distros, where IMO 3rd party AV is not needed. I would always recommend installing MBAM as an insurance, even the free version and running it once per week. MBAM premium has a nice feature that kicks in quite often when surfing the web, it monitors dodgy sites. I’m amazed how often it blocks potentially harmful sites, most of which seem to be from the links on otherwise “safe” websites.

IMO, Windows Defender is doing a good job with Windows 10 and doesn’t need any 3rd party AV installing but like all AV / Anti Malware software it isn’t perfect, that why I recommend installing MBAM in addition to Windows Defender. The advice we (IT Pros) give is to not have more than one AV product installed but MBAM is a completely different animal and works with most AV products, inc Windows Defender but they do occasionally fall out and stop playing nicely 🙂

Overall I’m of the opinion that Windows Defender does indeed step up to the mark. It’s part of the OS and it’s made to compliment the OS by people who know Windows inside out and I think that Microsoft employ enough people expert enough about security to keep improving Defender.

Final thought: The most secure computers are the ones powered off 🙂

 

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