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June 2, 2020

Windows Defender – Better than its reputation

German tester AV-Test tested 20 of the most popular home user AV products over a two-month-long period in November and December 2018. Its tests used the latest available public release for each security suite, with default auto-update settings. Find the full test results here, in English: https://www.av-test.org/en/antivirus/home-windows/windows-10/december-2018/

What is notable is how well free security suites worked, compared to paid ones. In fact, PC World world entitled its storyRecent antivirus tests are bad news for paid security suites“. Here’s a quote from that article:

If you’re worried about malware infecting your PC, you may subscribe to a security suite. But AV-Test’s recent evaluation of the top antivirus software reveals a free service, Avast, at the top of the heap—and Windows’ own Windows Defender just a shade behind.

The part of Windows Defender really interests me, it being my chosen method of protection. When Microsoft released its predecessor Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) back in 2009, I immediately switched to it, never again using any other AV suite until switching to Windows Defender (WD) in Windows 10. I have been completely happy with WD, and I’ve never had any malware issues. In this context, it’s worth noting that I use no other security products, not even the widely recommended Malwarebytes.

In its results, AV-Test reported that Windows Defender was sixth of all 20 products tested in its protection rankings. It got the full 6 points for Protection, and the second highest possible score  5.5 points for both Performance and Usability. It blocked each and every one of almost 260 zero-day malware attacks tested. In general, it found 99.9 percent of the 20,000 pieces of malware presented to each package (the overall detection average was 99.6 percent).

There were two areas WD did not get the highest score. According to AV-Test, it slows down installation of standard desktop Win32 apps, and occasionally flags valid, legitimate software as malware. Whereas the overall average was 5 false positives for 1.5 million samples, WD reported 7 such items for that sample base.

What this test proves to me is that I can continue using Windows Defender as my security solution. I of course know that this is just my personal and very subjective opinion. Indeed, there are users who would never give up their Nortons and McAfees and F-Secure Safes. The good thing is, if you unlike me do not like Windows Defender, it is easily disabled and replaced with another security solution of your choice.

For me, Windows Defender is better than its reputation, it is my choice.


Author: Kari Finn

A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.

One Response “Windows Defender – Better than its reputation”

  1. WhatsinmyName
    February 17, 2019 at 12:05

    agreed! Windows Defender is good. Please do a detailed post on Exploit Protection(search in settings/start) (App & browser control) in Windows Security(defender app)

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