Windows 10 Antivirus: What Is It, and Is It Good Enough?

windows 10 antivirus

Last Updated on August 31, 2020

Computer viruses have been plaguing our IT systems for decades. The first virus to spread widely via the internet was way back in 1988 when a 23-year-old student unleashed the Morris Worm that infected so many computers that it effectively brought the entire web to its knees.

Since then, antivirus software has become an essential part of our online lives, so much so that it's hard to imagine why anyone would risk exposing their unprotected devices to the hidden dangers that are lurking behind the scenes on some websites and email attachments.

For years we relied on third-party antivirus products to keep us safe, but it was only a matter of time before Microsoft entered the fray with the release of their own security packages that have evolved in lockstep with the latest versions of Windows into what is now known as Windows 10 Antivirus.

What is Windows 10 Antivirus?

Microsoft Defender Antivirus—as it's officially known—is the latest security product shipped with Windows 10, so any new Windows device is protected as soon as you take it out of the box. Their original Security Essentials program offered a low level of protection to older Windows systems. Back in 2013, it received the lowest possible rating from AV-TEST—the independent antivirus testing body. This called for Microsoft to up their game dramatically, and through the development of the Windows Defender product that accompanied Windows 8, they arrived at the Windows 10 Antivirus.

What's new?

This new software claims to offer comprehensive, behind the scenes, cloud-driven safety from both viruses and malware to ensure that your device is protected in realtime. In the early days, Microsoft would advise you to download additional antivirus products even though you had their security activated; this never instilled much faith in the Defender product. Those days are gone, and they are now more confident in the security that they offer. However, our computers are connected to a world of rapidly changing malware threats and other vulnerabilities, so is the defender tool sufficient to protect you from all of these cyber-attacks on its own?

Is Windows 10 Antivirus good enough?

Microsoft says that their antivirus will actively protect your device from malware, viruses, and other security threats. It's no longer the basic and somewhat ineffective tool that it once was and has genuinely come a long way.

Let's take a look at some of the things has going for it:

  • It's free. Not many things come for free anymore, and in the sales-driven world that we live in, it's hard to imagine a product not coming with some sort of subscription attached to it.
  • Pre-packaged protection means that you don't have to spend time downloading and installing the software.
  • It's unintrusive. By that, we mean it won't always be asking you to verify specific actions or telling you that processes are taking place. Some of the better-known antivirus products want you to know that you are being protected in big, bold letters every five minutes.
  • It doesn't put much strain on your system. You won't be waiting around for the Windows 10 Antivirus to do its thing. There's no unnecessary lag while it updates the virus definitions and runs background checks.
  • From a network point of view, it will monitor threats across all individual computers connected to it.
  • It's simple to use and includes a few different aspects that can be customized.

And some of the things that are holding it back:

  • It's not the most up to date antivirus software available. Although Microsoft claims that this product offers realtime protection, it does seem to be lacking when it comes to updated virus definitions.
  • It's still a little basic. A few elements can be personally adjusted, but you won't find a great deal of fine-tuning available.
  • Detection rates don't seem to stack up to those of their competitors. But it's not far behind.

The negative aspects of the Windows 10 Antivirus are unfortunately a result of the things that make it attractive in the first place. Being free, lightweight, and simple means that you're not going to get the depth of protection that some third party products will offer.

In conclusion, it's a great piece of software that does it's best to keep you guarded against various cyber-attacks. Still, it may be advisable to run it alongside another antivirus program to keep your devices as safe as possible on high-risk systems.

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