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Is Windows Defender Enough?

Ludovic Rembert
Last Updated on December 16, 2021
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When you purchase a new product, you need to have safety in mind. Regardless of the product—be it a new laptop or a new car—protecting that investment is in your best interest.  New laptops and computers, specifically the products that use Windows, already have built-in security features and antivirus software like Windows Defender.

However, if you’re like most laptop owners out there, you may not understand all that Defender does, and you’re likely unsure if it does enough to fully protect your laptop.  It’s important to note that no matter the antivirus software you have on your computer, it may still be at risk of viruses.

There is no perfect software and as malware continually improves and bests even U.S. governmental agencies, every person needs to follow good internet safety practices.

What is Microsoft Defender?

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Microsoft Defender is the name for the built-in antivirus software that comes with all Windows 10 devices. The software used to be called Windows Defender, but Microsoft decided to change the name while simultaneously improving the software.

Historically, the old Microsoft antivirus software never had a good reputation for safety, especially when it was compared to the likes of McAfee. Nonetheless, it always held a place in the industry. After all, Microsoft antivirus software is free and already installed making it easy for users to rely on it alone.

Today, antivirus software has three modes. First, the software can be active. In this mode, Microsoft Defender is the primary antivirus software on the device. It will scan files, act as a basic firewall, provide security reports, and remediate any threats that it detects.

The second mode is the passive mode. In this stage, Microsoft Defender is working to scan files and detect threats, but it will not act on any threats other than including them in reports. It can work with other antivirus software solutions, but it is not compatible with all. The last mode is when Microsoft Defender is either uninstalled or disabled and not used at all.

Microsoft Defender’s Features

With the original versions of Microsoft’s antivirus software, devices were only protected against spyware, not all types of malware. The story has changed with recent updates. Microsoft Defender now offers greater security for all types of malware files.

The antivirus software includes firewall and network protection, reports on overall system performance, real-time threat detection with file scanning, parental control options, and protection against phishing websites.  

However, Microsoft does fall short when it comes to additional tools like virtual private networks. Today, many antivirus software solutions provide their customers with a VPN to help them stay safe online. If you’re using Microsoft Defender, and you don’t have a VPN yet, check out these VPNs to see how they improve your digital privacy.

Benefits of Microsoft Defender

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Microsoft Defender may not be the most complete antivirus software on the market, but it has plenty of benefits to keep users around. For one, it’s built into Windows 10 devices making it convenient.

On top of that, Defender does well in detecting malicious files, flagging sketchy websites like phishing sites, and remediating network attacks. It also works in conjunction with other Windows features like automatic backups, Windows Hello, and website tracking for safe browsing.

What’s more, for parents, having the ability to set parental controls is invaluable. While you should review this online safety guide for kids, you can add protection by using parental controls.

Is Microsoft Defender Enough to Protect Me?


The basic answer is yes—Microsoft Defender is good enough to protect you. Any antivirus software is better than no antivirus software, but to be fair, Microsoft Defender has improved dramatically over the years making it more reliable than in the past.

Fundamentally, Windows Defender does all that it needs to do to stamp out any malicious files, flag phishing sites, and more. Plus, as a Windows user, you can count on Microsoft continually improving its software and releasing new updates.

However, you shouldn’t rely solely on it. You should always practice online safety habits. Plus, you can do things like use a VPN and a secure browser to enhance your anonymity even more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Windows Defender Remove Spyware?

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Yes, it can as long as you have the antivirus software in the active mode as described above. As soon as Microsoft Defender detects malware, it removes it. However, that doesn’t mean that you should always rely on the software to detect and deal with malware as malware is constantly changing and improving.

Is Windows Defender Free?

Yes, for all owners of a device with Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 installed, Windows Defender—or Microsoft Defender as it’s now called—is free. Microsoft does offer a higher-tier antivirus software called Microsoft Defender for Endpoint which is a paid service.  

Should I Use a Paid Antivirus Software?

It isn’t necessary to use a paid antivirus software solution. Windows Defender will do enough to keep you and your device safe as long as you practice basic online safety.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to internet safety, you can never be too confident that you’re fully protected against spyware and other forms of malware. Cybercriminals are constantly changing and upgrading malware as they look to bypass antivirus software to spy on you.

While Microsoft Defender does a good job to flag and remediating any malicious threats now, it isn’t guaranteed that it will always be up to the task of stopping threats. That’s why it’s crucial for each person on the internet to follow best safety practices such as using a strong VPN like NordVPN.

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