The Bottom Line
Microsoft Defender Antivi khuẩn protects Windows 10 PCs that have no other antivirut protection. It does the job, but still won’t beat the best không tính phí or paid third-tiệc ngọt antivirus tools.
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ProsBuilt inkhổng lồ WindowsSome good lab scoresVery good hands-on malware protection scoreSimple ransomware protectionAlways on if no other antivirus is present
ConsPoor phishing detection scoreSmartScreen Filter only protects Microsoft browsersAwkward scan scheduling
Microsoft Defender Antivirus Specs
|On-Demvà Malware Scan||Yes|
|On-Access Malware Scan||Yes|
|Malicious URL Blocking||Yes|
Microsoft’s history of providing antivirus protection goes all the way bachồng khổng lồ DOS, but it’s never seemed khổng lồ harm the third-các buổi tiệc nhỏ antivirut industry. In Windows 10, Microsoft Defender Antivi khuẩn not only protects against all types of malware, but it also manages numerous other security features. Microsoft Defender turns on lớn protect systems that have no other antivi khuẩn. As soon as you install a third-các buổi party solution, it goes inkhổng lồ suspended animation khổng lồ avoid conflict. By making sure that every Windows installation has protection against malware, Microsoft helps contribute khổng lồ a kind of herd immunity. Defender does a decent job, too, but the best competitors, including không tính tiền ones, bởi vì even better.
No Installation Required
Microsoft Defender differs from other không lấy phí antivirut tools in that there"s no installation required; it"s already present. When you cliông xã the Defender inhỏ in the notification area, it opens the full Security Center. The main security screen displays large icons for virus protection và six additional feature collections. Clicking one of those icons (or its corresponding thành tích in the left-rail menu) brings up a page for the selected security features. I"ll go into lớn detail about these features below.
In addition to lớn the expected Quiông xã, Full, and Custom scan options, Microsoft Defender offers what it calls Offline Scan. Designed lớn handle persistent malware that defends itself against removal by a normal scan, this scan reboots the system and runs before Windows fully loads. That also means it runs before any malware processes load, so in theory, the malware is defenseless. If you feel that you still have a malware problem after a regular scan, give sầu the offline scan a try.
I took the remaining samples và launched them one by one, noting Defender’s reaction. It caught many of the remaining samples at this point, detecting 96% of them one way or another. That’s decent, but Emsisoft Anti-Malware, Malwarebytes, & McAfee all detect 100% of the samples in this collection. A hàng hóa can lose points from its overall score by leaving behind traces of the malware it detected. Malwarebytes doesn"t thất bại a thing, coming in with a perfect 10 points, while McAfee is very cthua with 9.9.
Microsoft Defender scores 9.6, which is quite a good score. It’s better than any other không lấy phí hàng hóa tested with this same sample set. Adaware, Avast, và Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition all score 9.2, while Kaspersky, Pandomain authority, và Avira score still lower.
I did run into lớn one odd problem. Microsoft Defender kept finding certain malware threats over & over, even after it eliminated them. Completely deleting the folder that once contained the problem files didn’t help. A little retìm kiếm revealed that this is a fairly common problem, solved by deleting a detection history thư mục that Defender maintains. You’d think Microsoft would fix this known problem.
My malicious URL blocking kiểm tra uses an ongoing feed of the newest malware-hosting URLs discovered by researchers at MRG-Effitas. These are typically no more than a few days old. I launch each URL và note whether the antivirut blocks all access khổng lồ the page, eliminates the downloaded malware, or does nothing at all. Technically, SmartScreen Filter provides this protection, both for Edge and Internet Explorer, but Defender manages SmartScreen Filter. It"s worth noting that most competing products apply malicious download protection lớn all popular browsers, while Microsoft only protects its own.
Out of 100 malware-hosting URLs, SmartScreen Filter blocked access to 23% at the URL màn chơi & prevented download of the malware payload for another 76%. When it detected a dangerous URL, the filter diverted the browser to lớn a warning page. The file-cấp độ protection took several forms. For some it reported the download was blocked “because it could harm your device.” Others received the label “blocked as unsafe by Microsoft Edge.” In just one case, the regular real-time antivi khuẩn detected and quarantined a threat after the download finished.
SmartScreen Filter’s overall 99% protection score, shared with Sophos Home Free and a few others, is excellent. At the very top we find McAfee and Bitdefender Free, both with 100% protection.
Poor Phishing Detection
The creators of phishing websites don"t bother learning khổng lồ code. They don’t toil at creating clever Trojans to steal login credentials. Instead, they attachồng the weakest link—the user. Phishing pages try khổng lồ fool you into giving up login credentials for your gmail provider, banking website, even dating & gaming sites. They vì chưng so by creating a page that looks exactly lượt thích the real thing. These sites get blacklisted và shut down quickly, but the fraudsters just gin up new ones.
To chạy thử phishing protection, I gather reported phishing URLs from various websites. I make sure lớn include those so new they haven"t yet been analyzed và blacklisted. After all, it’s no great feat lớn bloông chồng websites that are on a blackdanh mục. A real antiphishing solution needs the ability to lớn detect frauds in real time. In addition lớn reporting the product"s detection rate for verified phishing pages, I compare its rate khổng lồ that of the phishing protection built into Chrome, Firefox, và Edge. In this case, the sản phẩm in question is SmartScreen Filter, managed by Microsoft Defender for Microsoft Edge, so I only had khổng lồ compare Edge with the other two browsers.
By observation, detection rates for Edge’s built-in protection vary across a wide range. Luckily, I have sầu an easy way to lớn smooth out that variation. Rather than launch a new round of testing, I aggregated the results for Chrome, Edge, & Firefox from my last half-dozen phishing tests of other products.
As I expected, Microsoft’s results don’t look great. It detected just 78% of the verified phishing pages, 10 percentage points behind Firefox and 12 points behind Chrome. This score is better than the 68% Microsoft earned when last tested, but it’s still in the bottom half. At the top, F-Secure and McAfee AntiVirus Plus detected 100% of the frauds in their respective tests. Bitdefender, Norton, & Webroot came very cthua, with 99%.
Simple Ransomware Protection
Buried in the antivirus settings is a hidden gem that offers a degree of ransomware protection. It"s turned off by default. If you want ransomware protection (& who doesn’t?) you must scroll down to "Controlled thư mục access" & turn it on. By mặc định, it protects your Documents, Pictures, Videos, Music, and Favorites folders, blocking any unauthorized attempt to modify files in these locations.
At the time of my last Reviews, Ransomware Protection also extended to the Desktop by default, which I found annoying. I have sầu a habit of running test programs from the desktop—Defender prevented my programs from writing lớn their output files. It also blocked any installer attempting khổng lồ place a program ibé on the desktop. By observation, Desktop is no longer included by default.
To chạy thử this feature, I used a tiny text editor that I wrote myself. I don’t know exactly which programs Microsoft has pre-authorized, but I know my TinyEditor isn’t on the guest list. When I tried lớn save an edited text tệp tin in the Documents thư mục, I got a message, "Stream write error," & a popup from Microsoft Defender noting that it prevented the change. It also prevented my simple-minded ransomware simulator from modifying protected text files.
The similar file-protection feature in Trover Micro, Pandomain authority Free Antivirut, và a few others lets you extend trust to an unrecognized program directly from the popup warning. With Microsoft Defender, that"s not an option. To add an exception for a valid program you must awkwardly dig inlớn the settings.
See How We Test Security Software
Windows Security Dashboard
As noted, the overall Windows Security dashboard serves as a central location khổng lồ manage various security features. Clicking the icons at the left side of the main window brings up pages of security information & settings. Do note that, with a few exceptions, you don’t need khổng lồ change the associated settings. In most cases Windows comes configured for proper security.
I"ve already covered features of the Virus & threat protection page. As noted, the main thing you should change here involves ransomware protection—you need lớn turn it on.
The Account protection page link lớn system settings related lớn your Microsoft trương mục, including Windows Hello for logging in & the optional Dynamic lochồng, which locks the PC when a paired device isn"t nearby. If your PC supports Windows Hello, you can configure it lớn log you in based on facial or fingerprint recognition. And configuring the system to lớn lochồng when your phone (or other paired device) goes out of range is smart.
From the Firewall & network protection page, you can check the status of Windows Firewall and persize simple tasks like allowing an phầm mềm through the firewall. It also offers quiông chồng access lớn network troubleshooting & firewall configuration. Windows Firewall is effective enough that you may not need a third-các buổi tiệc nhỏ firewall.
You use the App và browser control page to configure aspects of SmartScreen Filter. It comes configured lớn warn if you tải về dangerous files or venture lớn dangerous websites. SmartScreen also checks web content used by Windows Store apps. Just leave these turned on. Expert users can dig in khổng lồ configure exploit prevention technologies including CFG, DEPhường, và ASLR. If you don"t already know what those abbreviations stand for, you"re not qualified lớn meddle with the settings. Likewise, most users probably won"t grasp details of the information displayed on the Device security page.
The Device performance và health page includes checks for any issues with Windows update, storage capacity, và device drivers, offering help to resolve sầu any detected issues. On this page, you can also clichồng for a "fresh start," a full reinstallation of Windows that retains your documents and some settings & restores your Windows Store apps. However, the process wipes out desktop apps, including Microsoft Office và third-các buổi tiệc nhỏ antivi khuẩn, so you don’t want khổng lồ use it without serious consideration.
The final page, Family options, tracks the parental control options built into Windows 10. Parental control features include nội dung filtering, screen time control, & limiting kids lớn age-appropriate apps, as well as locating the children"s thiết bị di động devices. However, it works only on Windows & only in Microsoft browsers. It"s of little use in this modern multiplatform world. Certainly, it can"t compare with the best third-party parental control software.
An Able Defender
Making sure that every Windows PC has at least some degree of antivi khuẩn protection is a good move on Microsoft"s part. We used khổng lồ say Windows Defender isn’t good, but it’s better than nothing. At present, we"re willing lớn say that Microsoft Defender is good. Some of its lab demo scores are excellent now, though it took a while lớn reach this point. It earned a good score in our hands-on malware protection chạy thử, but it didn"t do so well at detecting phishing frauds.
The very best không tính phí antivirus utilities give sầu you even more protection, và they earn great scores from the independent testing labs. Avast Free Antivirut và Kaspersky Security Cloud Free are our Editors" Choice products for free antivirus protection. Kaspersky consistently gets perfect or near-perfect lab scores. Avast comes with a network inspector, a password manager, and a passel of security bonus features. You"re không tính phí khổng lồ try these two, or any of our other top-rated không tính tiền antivirut tools, and choose the one that suits you best. If your choice proves lớn be Microsoft Defender, go ahead & run with it.