Is Windows Defender Enough in 2020?

The internet is flooded with questions like “is Windows Defender enough in 2020?”, “Can Windows Defender remove malware?” and many more. In this article we will consider all the aspects that you should know if you have these kind questions in mind and share an unbiased Windows Defender review in 2020.

Windows Defender is the free built-in antivirus from Microsoft which is installed with the Windows package. Looking at the past protection of Windows Defender and the exponential growth of cyber threats, it is expected to put a question mark on the protection capability of Windows Defender.

Wait, don’t conclude now, Microsoft has injected many advanced features in the Windows Defender recently.

Before we proceed with “is Windows Defender good enough”, you should know if you really need an antivirus or antimalware to protect your computer.

Do we need antivirus/anti-malware?

In a single word, the answer is “Yes”. Even if you put a check on the data transfer and be vigilant and browse only authentic websites, it does not mean you are secure. As long as you are connected to the internet or over a network, there is always a risk of vulnerability.

With the increasing cyber threats and different types of malware like spyware, adware, ransomware, it is always recommended to have an antivirus or antimalware protection to minimize the risk of compromising your data.

Back to topic, is the default antivirus in Windows is good enough to provide you all-round protection? The answer can be justified by various factors along with a comparison with other antivirus software available in the market.

Microsoft has updated the Windows Defender over time and with the recent update, there is a huge shift in the user’s mindset on the capability of Windows Defender.

Here are the key features that Windows Defender provides:

  1. Real-time protection:
    The behavior-based real-time protection scans and protects your computer from malicious programs in real-time.
  2. Ransomware protection:
    This feature allows you to control the files and folder access and protects files, folders, and memory blocks from unauthorized programs.
  3. Cloud-delivered protection:
    The Windows Defender receives the malware and virus signature and latest threat updates from the cloud.
  4. Firewall and Sandboxing feature:
    The isolated sandbox environment acts as confinement for malicious activity in case of a security compromise. This feature helps protect the memory areas, files, folders.
  5. Parental controls:
    It can control the activities of your children on Windows 10 devices which include limited website access, setting up time limits, and the apps that can be used by your family members.
  6. Zero-day attack protection:
    Capability to protect your computer from zero-day attacks.

There are third-party labs like AV-Test, AV-Comparatives who perform a series of tests on the antiviruses and share the report to the public.

AV Test:

If you see the result from the AV-Test website, the Windows Defender is lagging behind other anti-viruses in the primary protection factor. One point to keep in mind that the Windows Defender is free. When we do a comparative analysis with other premium antiviruses, the Defender certainly falls behind in the scale but still it is a decent performer for most of the virus tests.

Unlike other antiviruses, the Windows Defender runs smoothly on your computer and does not affect the speed as compared with most of the antiviruses. The Windows Defender antivirus has a pretty clean interface and easy to use features. However, the offline mode scan function is buried deep in the settings.

Personally, I don’t recommend to rely on Windows Defender completely as the malware and virus definitions are not updated frequently like other antivirus software.

Windows Defender Antivirus Performance
Credit: av-test.org

In the recent test in February 2020, the Windows defender has scored 96.7% for protection against various factors like zero-day attack and other email and web threats. This score is below the industry standard which is 98%. This somewhere indicates the competitiveness of Microsoft with other antivirus focused companies.

When it comes to threat protection and avoiding data compromise, you must keep updating the antivirus whenever there is any latest update available; this makes sure the latest virus/ malware signatures are downloaded to your computer.

We must look at different test results to have a clear picture of the performance of the Windows Defender.

AV Comparatives:

As per recent tests performed in AV-Comparatives, the outcomes are quite promising. Here is the performance report of Windows Defender compared with the other 16 antivirus software. The result is quite impressive for a free antivirus like Windows Defender.

Windows Defender comparison
Credit: av-comparatives.org
Windows Defender Virus Protection
Credit: av-comparatives.org

The Windows Defender from Microsoft was able to block 99.7% of various types of malware and viruses which somewhere indicates Windows Defender is enough for online protection.

If compared with Avira, F-Secure, K7, Kaspersky, Norton, Trend Micro who achieved a blocking rate of 100% for online protection, the Windows Defender performed a decent job.

Is Windows Defender Enough - A detailed comparison
Credit: av-comparatives.org

But, look at the Offline Detection Rate column, the Windows Defender antivirus is lagging too far behind. This often raises the concern “is Windows Defender enough and can be relied upon?”.

Can Windows Defender remove malware?

The Windows Defender has a feature “Windows Defender Offline Scan” specifically meant for malware. The offline scan takes around 15 minutes to scan your whole computer and needs a system restart to remove the malicious software. I have tried out this feature a couple of times, perhaps I do not have any malware on my computer.

Again, looking at the above performance comparison, it may not detect or remove all the malware. You can try it out and share your observations in the comments.

The top antivirus companies also provide a free version of their antivirus with limited capability or you can download the free trial of their premium version. When compared with these third-party free antiviruses, Windows Defender certainly has decent performance and good usability.

Here is the list of some top-rated antiviruses available in the market and you can get a free trial version of their premium version to try out the advanced features and decide based on the performance.

My take on Windows Defender:

Personally, I have been using Windows Defender after I switched from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Surprisingly, Windows Defender has not even detected a single virus/malware on my computer in the past year. Really?

My day starts with the internet and wraps just before going to bed. You can understand now.

I had doubted the Windows Defender capability all the time, so I am in fact using a premium antivirus to avoid just in case scenario.

Missing Features in Windows Defender:

The industry leaders are already a couple of steps ahead and providing more advanced features. Here are some features Microsoft should focus on to have a perfect free antivirus.

  • Secure VPN
  • Password Manager
  • Safe webcam

After all, it’s free. Nobody knows if we can expect these premium features sometimes soon.

Conclusion: Is Windows Defender Enough in 2020?

If you are not so concerned about security threats, then the in-built Windows Defender will perform decently. Remember to install the Windows updates whenever it is available which injects the latest security updates in the Windows Defender antivirus.

A good thing about Windows Defender is that you can run it with another antivirus or antimalware. There is no harm in trying out Windows Defender alongside a premium antivirus software.

If you want to spend a few bucks to get a premium version of antivirus, then that can provide better protection for your data and can give you peace of mind.
I hope you are clear on “how good is Windows Defender” and is it good enough.
Cheers!!!

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