It took a few years and a few releases for tech giant Microsoft to come up with Windows 10, an operating system that is worthy of the legacy of Windows XP.
In many ways, the transition from Windows 95 in the 20th century to Windows XP in the 21st century was similar to what Microsoft experienced while developing Windows 10. The state of computer security and the rise of cyber threats were major challenges and concerns for the development team that designed Windows 10; to that effect, the new operating system is much safer and secure thanks to Windows Defender.
By default, Windows 10 features real-time security and protection against cyber threats. This real-time protection is accomplished by Windows Firewall and Windows Defender; the former component is always and does not generally require user interaction while the latter can be accessed and adjusted for optimal protection and performance.
Windows Defender comes with Windows 10 and replaces security applications such as the Security Center from Windows Vista and Microsoft Security Essentials from Windows 7. Windows Defender dates back to the Windows XP days, when it was offered as a spyware scanner; these days, Windows Defender is a powerful malware scanning and removal tool that runs in the background and shields computing devices against cyber threats.
Getting To Know Windows Defender
The Windows Defender user interface can be accessed by means of the Search box, whereby typing “Defender” will open the application. Another option is to tap or click on Settings, followed by Update and Security. A third option is to press Start + Q or tell Cortana to search and open the app.
The app interface of Windows Defender allows access to a few tabs: Home, Update and History. The Home tab displays information on the overall security status, the Update tab indicates whether the virus and spyware definition databases are up-to-date, and History shows the actions taken and any potential threats previously encountered.
Configuring Windows Defender
Since Microsoft made Defender part of Windows 10, its settings can be adjusted from the Start Menu. After selecting the Settings option, the Update and Security section displays the Windows Defender settings. The real-time protection setting should always be enabled; even if a technician decides to disable it for performance troubleshooting, Defender will turn it back on after some time.
Cloud-based protection and sample submission are settings that allow Defender to connect to Microsoft and report information about threats and malware. This setting is on by default; some users concerned about privacy may choose to turn it off, but it is important to contribute to the improvement of security applications.
The exclusions setting allows users to define folders and files they know to be safe enough to be bypassed by Windows Defender as it scans the system. This may improve performance on low-end systems, but users should be very careful when adjusting these settings.
The Windows Defender Scanning Process
From the Home tab of the application interface, users can select between Quick, Full and Custom Scans. Ideally, Full malware scans should be allowed; however, the frequency is more important. Quick scans that take place on a regular basis are better than a Full scan taking place once a month.
Windows 10 users can also scan items on demand to ensure their computer is protected from malware. If a suspicion arises about the security and integrity of a folder or file, the concerned user can access the context menu by right clicking on an icon and select the Scan with Windows Defender.
The default schedule for Quick scans and Windows 10 maintenance and updates is 3:00 AM.
When malware is detected, Windows Defender notifies users with pop-up messages. To review the blocked threats, users can tap or click on the Defender desktop app, which displays quarantined items from the History tab. From the list of threats, an option to View Details is offered. Items can be removed or completely wiped; they can even be executed if the user is certain of a false positive, which is a file erroneously determined to be harmful.
Windows Defender will display a red dot with a white “X” mark whenever it requires the user to pay attention to the system tray icons on the bottom right of the screen. When the icon is green and spinning, it means a scan is in progress.
Using Other Antivirus Programs
Windows Defender is not the only computer security solution on the market. Users who wish to install recommended anti-virus programs on their Windows 10 devices can do so easily and without having to worry about interference. Windows 10 will disable Defender once it detects that a certified solution has been installed, and it will not continue scanning.
When other antivirus programs are installed, the Windows Defender icons and tabs become grayed out, and a message will be displayed to confirm its inactive status.
In the end, Windows Defender provides great value to users who trust Microsoft products. The seamless integration with the operating system is a solid feature, which can be appreciated whenever a third-party solution is uninstalled and Defender reactivates automatically.