Previously, Windows used to keep on reminding you to install an antivirus if you didn’t have one. Then Microsoft decided to release a free antivirus, Microsoft Security Essentials, during the Windows 7 era, and with Windows 8, it came built into the OS as Windows Defender.
Microsoft kept Windows Defender as part of Windows with the release of Windows 10, and these days, PC users running OS will never get such notifications as being requested to install an antivirus. That is not to say you will not get any notification about antivirus. If you go for a while without connecting to the internet and allowing the inbuilt antivirus (or any other third-party antivirus) to update itself, you will still get the notification.
How good or bad is Windows Defender, and should I use it?
Truthfully, Windows Defender started off as a weakling among the antivirus ranking. The antivirus consistently fell behind other third-party antivirus programs across multiple third-party reviews. However, Microsoft has been working on the program, and it is safe to say that other antivirus programs like Avira and Avast don’t have a much wide gap from Windows Defender nowadays.
For instance, AV-TEST review gave Windows Defender a 99.9% score when it comes to catching “widespread and prevalent malware” back in April 2017, and 98.8% score when it comes to arresting zero-day attacks. The reviewer ranked Avira as the top antivirus program for the exact scores for April 2017, but slightly higher on the previous months.
Though the fact is AV-TEST gave Windows Defender a 4.5-out-of-6 rating, but others would argue that the fact it gets virtually all virus vulnerability that Avira gets, and it runs while out of your way, should make it score higher.
Indeed compared to other third-party antivirus, Windows Defender runs quietly in the background and does not try to get you to buy products, or harvest your data to sell to marketers. Third-party antivirus, especially those that automatically install browser plug-ins when you’re installing the app.
One might argue there are other powerful third-party antivirus programs, but the recent Windows Defender can match up, and if it underperforms, it is by a point down. Then when you think of all the bloatware, unsafe browser extension, terrible and unnecessary registry cleaners, tracking your habits, and other loads of junkware. Windows Defender seems so much easier to use.
Windows Defender + Malwarebytes combo
Whether you decide its Windows Defender or other third-party antivirus, to adequately protect your computer, you need an anti-malware program. Malwarebytes comes highly recommended and does the job well.
Though it comes in both free and premium version, the freemium Malwarebytes comes with a block for potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), anti-exploit features, and anti-ransomware at a fee of $40 per year.
Though Malwarebytes claims it can replace your antivirus entirely, security experts advise that you have one reliable antivirus and Malwarebytes installed on your system.