Windows Defender Antivirus Review

Windows Defender Antivirus may be the least discussed software if comparing it with other well-known titles in the past. It is also due to a good old custom of downloading, installing the software, and having control over our system. We believe we know what is best for us and our hardware. Then, why paying and spending extra money and time for something that is already there?

Windows Defender is indeed a part of Windows OS, pre-installed and ready to go. Of course, we suggest you make an informed decision based on this review and other relevant articles. Maybe pre-installed status of a program was a determinant of its popularity. Many people didn’t even know there was a software within a system.

Since the first launch of an integrated protection system in 2006, many forgot about it. Since Windows 10 development, Defender Antivirus has improved both in performance and system protection. It is easier now to find, set, and apply the security to your PC. The latest update was on 30 July 2019.

Good news: software is free and advanced, everything is pretty much up there in Documentation folder at the Microsoft website, including guides and other information. Overall, Windows Defender is worth giving a try.

Please, for avoiding further misunderstandings, note that Defense Antivirus and Windows Security are different features of Windows OS. Windows Security is an app that manages status and security features (including Defender Antivirus). Defense Antivirus is an anti-malware program integrated with OS. The installation of other security programs will deactivate Defense Antivirus, but you still will be able to access and monitor Security Center.

Windows Defender Price and Plans

Windows Defender is organically integrated within Windows 10 system. That means that it comes with the licensed version of OS. The whole deal will cost you $139.00 for one device (PC or Mac). We highly recommend using only licensed products for achieving the best protection and performance.

Also, there is a Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection, the unified platform for enterprises. It offers a variety of extended tools and features available for Windows Pro users, after subscription to Windows 10 Enterprise/Education suite. You can try a free trial version at the Microsoft official website.

Windows Defender Antivirus Pros


  • Free and up-to-date
  • Decent level of malware protection
  • Pro Version
  • OneDrive Cloud
  • Comprehensive and simplistic interface


Although Windows Defender is a part of a more extensive integrated system, the interface and accessibility of it is a plus. Overall, Security Center enables you to set firewall and network protection, apps & browser control, device security. Although it is not directly connected to Windows Defender, it is a rich set of features necessary for your work. Security interface is light and modern, easy to deal with.

OneDrive Cloud

OneDrive is another integrated part of Windows experience. It is a storage that enables you to share and save important data. We suggest keeping critical data for further access, in case of any malfunction and loss. OneDrive is secured and safe space that is guaranteed from attacks, at least at the moment.


Windows Defender offers Quick, Full, Offline, and Custom scans. A quick scan is a fast option, like any other antivirus it checks for recent threats. Full scan investigates every file or program that is installed on your device, while the custom scan enables you to choose particular folders and files. The offline scan will search for malware both before starting the system and without any connection to the Internet.

Windows Defender is by default runs real-time protection. Interestingly, the option resumes after some time even if you chose to turn it off. You can pick up secured folders or exclude trusted items from a scan in Defender settings. Note, that some features of scan and protection are unavailable in Windows 10 S mode.

The latest AV-Test results on protection show that Windows Defender has 100% malware protection in both test parameters. It shows high scores in 0-day malware attacks and internet threats and prevalent malware discovery in 4 weeks. AV-Comparatives show that Windows Defender protection rate is 99.8%, but the rate of false alarms is incredibly high (almost 45 cases). AV-Test May-June 2019 results can be interpreted as an improvement since the AV-Comparatives of February-May 2019 results show lower results.

We believe that Windows Defender can deal with all currently known threats and malware. It also operates on the principle of cloud-delivered protection. It means that all threatening files and programs are captured before they can do harm your device. Cloud analyzes and provides an extended set of malware, phishing, and other attacks prevention.

Windows Defender provides detailed threat history. It is easily found in Defender tab in Security Center interface. You also can set Ransomware Protection and Ransomware Data Recovery. Updates and other features are easy to reach in Defender tab.

Extended Features

In general, you receive more than just antivirus when having Windows Defender. You spend lesser time for searching for additional protection software. As mentioned before, anti-phishing, firewall, and browser protection apply to Security Center core. Parental control enables you to protect your children from unwanted applications and websites.

However, it is not a big con, but installed browsers like Firefox, Chrome, or Opera do not support these features. You have to set Defender’s plug-in separately. On the other hand, it is easy to do, and you don’t have to contact specialists or pay more than you should for these features.

Pro Edition and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection

We have mentioned that Pro Edition comes with some extra level of protection. It is not necessary to purchase an expensive product for guaranteeing PC security, but it is better for advanced users and enterprises that need higher functionality. Windows Defender (ATP) comes with features that are more than multilayered and sophisticated. We will briefly review them, so, later on, you can learn more about them.

Threat & Vulnerability Management is a feature that will help security teams to spot and manage any malfunction. Real-time device inventory, visibility of software and vulnerabilities, configuration posture, are among the capabilities that simplify the security management process. At the same time, intelligence-driven prioritization enables to see critical weaknesses that have to be resolved asap. Overall, the feature of management works as an assistant that advice the best solution for remediation and avoiding misconfigurations in the first place.

Microsoft Threat Experts operates on AI-driven type of analysis and reports that enhance your security. It records targeted attacks, recognition of known and unknown attacks, and provides fast SOC responses. Threat Experts can determine previously coded or current attacks. Also, it enables you to cooperate with Microsoft experts for better response, review, and defense of emerging threats and malfunctions (details can be found on the Microsoft website).

Windows Defender (APT) comes with endpoint detection and immediate response. The system collects the patterns of behavioral cyber telemetry. The information is stored for six months, and the data can help analysts to have a better understanding of previously unspotted or misinterpreted threats. These features are relevant for the improvement of cyber-security on personal and network levels.

Windows Defender Antivirus Cons


  • Still may visibly impact system performance
  • Mediocre features

Performance impact

Windows Defender is reported for slowing down the hardware work. The lab tests provide mixed feedback. AV-Test does not reveal any significant deviation from the industry average in performance. On the other hand, most of the impact was seen in slowing installation of the frequently-used application.

AV-Comparatives indicate low results in several categories. Windows Defender has shown mediocre results in file copying and first run of application launch. It received low results in installing of the application category. Overall, Windows Defender showed 18.6 impact score while other respective antiviruses received less.

Basic Features

Some features, like ransomware protection, work well. Everything feels just okay. Yet, they don’t provide the perfect and out-of-this-world experience. On the other hand, if it is a Windows home edition, they can be enough for securing your work space.

Windows Defender Extra Features

Windows Defender is rather simplistic when we talk about features. But still, it is more than an ordinary antivirus. It provides some usable features like built-in firewall and parental control.


It is a simple but effective function which can be used for more comprehensive home network protection. You can turn it on or manage it somehow through the Defender Security Center and choose the apps to forbid manually.


The anti-phishing feature of Windows Defender is an effective option for built-in Microsoft browsers such as Internet Explorer and Edge. While in case of other browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera or any others, this feature will not work well. You will be obliged to install the separate pug-in.

Parental control

This feature is incredibly effective, especially taking into consideration that it is free. Every family member may have a personal account, and you can control them from the admin account. This option also gives the possibility to establish limits and parameters for each account.

How to install and setup Windows Defender

Windows Defender can be turned on though Start Menu or special toolbar with with an emblem of shield.

As we mentioned before, it is quite easy to work with Security Center interface and find necessary Defender tab. Then you can manually set it for active running. Note, that if you have other antivirus product deactivated at your PC, Windows Defender will be automatically disabled as well.

Windows Defender for Mac has identical interface and purpose, with a slight differences in classical Mac interface configuration. There will be no difference in features or scan options. You can install the software that work on macOS Mojave, macOS High Sierra, or macOS Sierra. You also can set Microsoft AutoUpdate that will have a pathway for Cloud protection.

At the same time, all you need to install Windows Defender on other platforms is properly downloaded licensed package and step-by-step recommendations. Overall, there shouldn’t be issues with installation process for provided platforms. Microsoft Documents section has detailed description of the latest changes and recommendations.

Our verdict

Overall, Windows Defender Antivirus shows that there is no limit for perfection. Of course, we found some weak spots, but the advantages convinced us to state that this product is somewhat worth to give a try. Usually, it is essential to speak the same language as the software you use. Either a professional savvy or a person who wants their PC to run correctly, you can give Windows Defender Antivirus a benefit of the trust.

Frequently asked question

Is Windows Defender available for other platforms or previous versions of Windows OS?

Windows Defender was previously a separate tool that worked with detecting spyware before Windows 8.1 release. It is available in Windows 10 and can be installed at Mac.

Can I disable Windows Defender Antivirus?

You can do it temporarily. It will be turned on automatically after some time. However, Windows Defender is no longer working after installing other Antivirus product. You always can return to it after other product removal, if needed.

Do I need any additional installation process for Windows Defender Antivirus?

No, it is ready for usage and can be easily managed through Security console.

Is there any specific system requirements for Windows Defense Antivirus?

Minimum system requirements are similar to those applied to Windows 10. In some cases, you should consult how to upgrade and improve your hardware functioning.