Remember the early 2000s with desktop computers and dial-up internet connections? Back then, the internet was an intimidating place. Anywhere you went on the information super-highway included no protection for your browser or operating system. You either paid a lot of money for a disc of already outdated antivirus software, or you went unprotected and hoped for the best. These days, browsers can help you stay safe with a little bit of configuration. So what about your Windows operating system? Do you still need to budget an extra $100 per year for a subscription-based antivirus software? With the current Windows Defender, probably not!
Windows Defender began its life as a spyware-removal program available in Windows Vista as part of the Microsoft Security Essentials package. It offered no real-time protection but gave you a free way to scan and remove hidden spyware on your system. Basically, a great tool to run on a schedule and keep your system safe, but not an actual piece of live antivirus software. You still needed real-time protection from a third-party company. The upgrade to real-time antivirus software came with Windows 8, when Windows Defender replaced Microsoft Security Essentials.
Free updates, scheduled scans, and “Block at First Sight” protection. Windows Defender has grown from an occasionally used spyware scanner to an all-in-one security force. If you have Windows 10, Windows Defender is already running. How easy was that? Nothing to install, nothing to update. You’re already protected! But returning to the first question, is it all you need? In short, no.
For any regular user who browses the web and uses Microsoft Office products for work, Defender will keep you protected. Power users who deal with torrents and manage lots of downloads probably need more, but they already know this because they’re power users!
So, that’s it, right? You’re safe with Windows 10. Not quite. You also need to scan your machine regularly for viruses that may have slipped through. We recommend Malwarebytes. The free version is enough, as long as you don’t mind opening the software and starting the malware scans yourself. If you’re really lazy and want automated scans, the premium version costs $39.99 per year. Not bad for total protection!
No security software keeps you 100% protected. If you click every ad on the internet and download every .exe attachment in your inbox, nothing will help you. But if you’re an average user who visits popular websites and does regular computing tasks with Office and other common software, Windows Defender actively protects your system, in tandem with software like Malwarebytes that you run every week or two to make sure you haven’t been compromised. As always, stay vigilant!
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