In the past, you might’ve heard that Windows Defender, the built-in antivirus software for Windows, was really bad. Over the last few years, Microsoft has made great strides in transforming Windows Defender into a reliable antivirus program for everyday internet use.
A bonus to Windows Defender is that it is free.
Windows Defender will come installed with any Windows installation, protecting your computer from its first boot up. So the question begs, is Windows Defender enough for your home computer?
In this article, we will go over its strengths and weaknesses, as well as some history about Windows Defender.
How Far Has Windows Defender Come
Over a decade ago, people saw Windows Defender as a better than nothing solution for antivirus software but many still used 3rd-party antivirus software alongside Windows Defender. This is no longer the case, and Windows Defender has evolved to become a reliable and safe antivirus software. It was even rated the best antivirus solution in 2019.
The days of needing a 3rd-party antivirus are over, but Windows Defender’s reputation hasn’t changed much since then. Despite its recent results and proven effectiveness against malware, many still view Windows Defender as a sub-optimal computer security solution.
Through years of optimization and updates, Windows Defender has become the number 1 free antivirus software available, and you don’t even have to worry about setting it up. Microsoft, the company behind Windows Defender, consistently releases updates to it along with the rest of Windows to keep your computer secure and able to identify threats.
What Does Windows Defender Do?
Windows Defender is a completely free antivirus that comes installed with Windows. It acts as an “always on defense” for your computer. It is capable of machine learning, big-data analysis, in-depth threat analysis, and uses Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure to protect data shared across your devices.
Windows Defender automatically scans any programs you open, any downloads, and other software updates on your computer. It has an easy to navigate interface that allows you to quickly and easily scan your entire computer for any malware.
The biggest advantage that Windows Defender has over any other antivirus, free or paid, is that it doesn’t slow down your computer or take up a lot of processing power.
The Problem With Other Antivirus Software
As we just mentioned, Windows Defender runs in the background and doesn’t take much processing power from your computer’s CPU because it is integrated directly into your computer’s operating system.
3rd-party antivirus software takes up extra storage space on your computer and can be using up to 35% of your CPU’s processing power. For lower to mid-grade computers, this can be even higher, slowing down your computer’s performance.
While 35% isn’t dangerous for your computer, in terms of raising your temperatures, losing that much performance from your CPU can greatly affect your efficiency and productivity. If you’re a gamer, then you might also find yourself kissing that frame rate goodbye.
For everyday home computer use, Windows Defender is great for keeping your CPU usage in check.
How Does Windows Defender Compare To Other 3rd Party Antivirus Software
There has been plenty of research done every single year ranking antivirus software by their protection, usability, and impact on overall performance. In 2016 Windows Defender was rated highly for its usability and security. It’s been 4 years since then and now Windows Defender ranks as one of the best antivirus software in the world.
As Microsoft rolled out more updates and improvements for Windows Defender, it has become a very reliable and secure antivirus software for protecting your home computer. Now that Windows Defender ranks among the best antivirus software in terms of security, there isn’t much need to use 3rd-party antivirus software.
Its weakness is that it is prone to flagging much more false positives than other antivirus software. It will often identify a program as malicious software and require user input before that program can be executed. Windows Defender will still scan the files to ensure your security, and false positives have no impact on your overall security. In the end, you are the user, and you are calling the shots. Windows Defender will give you a nudge to let you know if a program is suspicious. Better safe than sorry.
Do You Need To Worry If You Only Use Windows Defender
Chances are that your daily computer habits aren’t very dangerous. In fact, most of your home computer habits can be deemed safe and relatively risk-free. Browsing the internet’s online stores, watching Youtube and Netflix videos, and gaming typically isn’t a very high-risk online activity.
For most people, it isn’t every day that you download sketchy files or try to torrent something hoping it isn’t a virus. Using some common sense, you should be able to determine whether or not your everyday online activities warrant multiple layers of protection.
So Is Windows Defender Enough For Your Home Computer
As few as 5 years ago, the idea of solely relying on Windows Defender as your primary antivirus software would be considered a risky venture. Now that we are in 2020, Microsoft has rolled out many updates and improvements to Windows Defender, allowing it to be a viable competitor in the antivirus market, not to mention being free with Windows.
For regular home users, Windows Defender is a viable pick. While you may choose to run a 3rd-party antivirus software as an added layer of security, for general use Windows Defender has proven itself to be enough.
With its significant performance and speed advantages of being directly integrated into your Windows installation, you won’t have to worry about slowing down your computer to protect your files.
As Microsoft continues to update and make improvements to Windows Defender, it will continue to be a viable option to protect your computer in 2020 and the future to come.
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