We stand with Ukraine to help keep people safe. Join us

Tags PC Security

Is Windows Defender Enough?

It doesn’t take a tech whiz to know that your devices need to have antivirus protection. Fortunately, some devices come with their own antivirus software, like Windows Defender, but it isn’t always sufficient. In cases like this, you would usually turn to apps like Clario. It is an anti-spying app that offers various tools to keep prying eyes out of your business and people’s hands off your personal information.

Table of contents

Is Windows Defender good?

Windows Defender, now called Microsoft Defender, is Microsoft’s built-in anti-spyware and antivirus protection that was released by Microsoft in 2006. The tool forms part of Microsoft Security Essentials and is available to Microsoft users for free.  


When it was first launched, Microsoft Defender left much to be desired. However, Microsoft has improved the tool over the years and has gained more respect in the industry for the strides it has made in improving its solution. Windows Defender does a decent job of protecting your computer against viruses and intruders. But just how well does it protect your data? Keep reading, we’re exploring that in greater detail below.


Because Windows Defender is pre-installed, Microsoft users don’t have to do anything like set up an account or subscribe to start using Defender. All you need to do is fire up your computer and start enjoying the benefits it offers.  


So, what value does Windows Defender add to users?


Let’s have a look at some benefits of using Windows Defender below:

  • Microsoft Defender is more convenient than using a third-party app, as there’s no setup required
  • There is no pressure to make a financial commitment on your end, as the tool is completely free for Microsoft users. Most anti-spying tools either come at a cost or hide their key features behind a paywall. This makes them inaccessible for some people — especially in this economy.
  • It blocks phishing websites and malicious downloads. This can save you from falling victim to identity theft, fraud, and more.
  • You get real-time protection against viruses. Windows Defender quietly works in the background to scan your device for threats and blocks them, all while you use your computer without interruptions.
  • In addition to protecting your computer against viruses in the background, Windows Defender allows you to scan your files for malware anytime you want. This prevents new viruses and malware from entering your computer and compromising your data.
  • One of the most important benefits is that Windows Defender is easy to use. This makes it suitable for personal, at-home use. Anyone can easily navigate Windows Defender and put it to good use since it’s not an advanced program.

Windows Defender features

Windows Defender has some key features that an anti-spying tool needs. These are the features that make a case for using Windows Defender, especially given that it’s a free app.  


Key features of Windows Defender:

More parental control

Windows Defender’s parental control feature forms part of Windows’ Family options solution in Windows 10 and later versions. Parental control contains various tools to help parents and guardians manage their children’s digital activities. The aim is to keep children safe online and to ensure they’re healthily using the internet.


Here’s what you can do with Windows Defender’s parental control feature:

  • Choose the websites your kids can visit in Microsoft Edge. You can achieve this by either blocking specific, inappropriate websites or setting the device to only see websites on the allowed list. The internet is a whole different world. When zoned in, it’s easy to mindlessly or curiously jump from website to website. The more time kids spend online, the more websites they can explore. It’s easy for them to end up on websites they have no business visiting, like adult websites. And it’s just as easy to enter malicious websites, too. Choosing what websites they can visit can limit the probability of this happening.
  • Receive weekly reports about what your kids are getting up to online, so you can monitor their online activities. This allows you to make the necessary adjustments or add the relevant controls as needed. If your child spends too much time on a particular website, you can investigate why that is the case.
  • Set screen time limits for your kids to ensure they aren’t spending too much time online or using their devices when they shouldn’t. Screen time controls can be set per day or in a single schedule. Any parent knows that social media, games, and other apps are time-consuming and can distract your kids from their school work. When kids spend more time on the internet, it affects other areas of their lives, like their social lives and their sleeping patterns. This isn’t healthy, so setting screen time limits helps you manage your kids’ internet use to ensure it doesn’t negatively impact their health and well-being.
  • Set time limits for specific media, apps, and games. Specifying the amount of time kids can spend on specific apps and games helps them have a healthy relationship with those apps and games. It reduces the probability of them getting addicted and allows them to explore other things, like educational websites. It’s also a great way to help your kids lead a balanced life where their digital lives don’t take over their real lives. Kids can request access, which adults can approve in the family safety center.  
  • Add, remove, and manage family members. Microsoft gives you the power to manage your family members in family options. When your kids grow up, you can remove them and give them their independence. And when your younger kids start using your devices, you can add them to monitor their activity.
  • Manage your children’s spending in the Microsoft Store. Parental controls allow you to choose which kids can buy from the Microsoft Store, give them money to spend in the store, and monitor what they’re using it for.
  • Find and lock a lost mobile Windows device. Parental controls help you secure and find devices that are either lost or stolen, to ensure your personal data isn’t compromised. This feature is similar to Apple’s Find My feature, which helps to locate and lock down Apple devices that aren’t in your care.
  • Adults can view what devices they and other family members are signed in to. Getting an overview of the devices used is another way to manage your kids’ use of technology.
  • Adults can also view the health and security statuses of the devices that family members are signed into. This allows you to take action as needed.

Get access to research-backed protection

Defender for Endpoint includes Microsoft Defender Antivirus. The antivirus employs the latest research in the following disciplines to help protect your devices against viruses:

  • Threat resistance research
  • Microsoft cloud infrastructure
  • Big data analysis
  • Machine learning.

The antivirus provides protection to your device and in the Microsoft cloud. This ensures that all your files are guarded against threats that could compromise your personal information.  

Compatible with other antivirus products

One of the best things about using Windows Defender is that you don’t have to choose between the program and alternative antivirus software. Windows Defender pairs well with other antivirus products, which allows you to strengthen your antivirus protection.


What’s more, Windows Defender’s antivirus protection can run in the background (in passive mode) while a third-party antivirus program is running on your device. This depends on two factors:

  1. Whether the operating system running on your device allows both a built-in and third-party antivirus to run concurrently. Operating systems that allow this include:
    • Windows 10 or later
    • Windows Server 2022
    • Windows Server 2019
    • Windows Server version 1803 or later.
  2. Whether your computer is running Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.

Take note

Installing a third-party antivirus app on your Windows device will render Windows Defender inactive. If you want to activate it again, you’ll have to turn it on, which will work passively. You have the option to set it to scan your personal computer occasionally.

Let’s break down what Windows Defender’s different modes mean:

  • Active mode. In active mode, Windows Defender’s antivirus software is your device’s chosen antivirus program. It works actively to protect your device against viruses, including scanning and fixing threats.
  • Passive mode. In this mode, a third-party antivirus app is used as the primary antivirus protection on your device instead of Windows Defender’s antivirus protection. Windows Defender can scan and find viruses, but it doesn’t fix them in passive mode. Please note that Defender can only run its antivirus tool in passive mode on endpoints that have been onboarded to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.
  • Disabled or uninstalled. When Windows Defender has been uninstalled or disabled, it can’t be used on your device. As a result, it can’t detect and fix any threats on your device, thereby leaving it exposed to viruses and spying unless another antivirus program is running.

Defender detects malware files

In addition to antivirus software, Windows Defender includes a malware tool that scans your Windows, Mac, or Android device for various types of malware. These include spyware and ransomware.  


According to DataProt, ransomware attacks occur every 14 seconds. Defender’s anti-malware protection runs in real-time and performs regular, daily scans to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Below are the areas it scans for malware on your computer:

  • The internet
  • Your emails
  • Your files
  • Installed apps
  • The Microsoft cloud.

If Defender finds any malware threats on your device, it will block them and give you a heads-up so that you can take action. The program will notify you in the following ways:

  • By sending you a pop-up message on the device the threat is found on, provided you’ve enabled push notifications
  • By showing you an alert on the Defender dashboard.

Windows Defender will prompt you to either quarantine or delete the threat if it fails to block the threat for whatever reason.  

  • Quarantining a file that has been identified as a threat or potential malware transfers it to a place on your computer or device where it can’t cause harm. You can then decide if you want to delete or restore the file. Please note: If you don’t take any action against the file, it will be automatically deleted after 90 days.
  • Deleting a file removes it from your device to prevent it from causing any harm.

Learn more

Are you worried your computer might have a virus? Learn how to get rid of a virus and other malware from your PC.

Offers protection from internet hackers

Hackers will go to great lengths to get their hands on your private information. They use whatever security loopholes they can find on your computer to access it and compromise your privacy. Hacking is so lucrative that some people do it for a living. That’s why businesses and governments spend millions of dollars on cybersecurity.


According to Zippia, cyberattacks occur every 39 seconds. That means that, in less than a minute, anyone in the world — including yourself — could fall victim to hacking.


Windows Defender reduces the chances of that happening. By scanning your device and blocking viruses and malware, Defender reduces the probability of getting hacked. It gives hackers fewer opportunities to spy on you and steal your personal information using malicious software, attachments, and websites.

Learn more

Does a factory reset remove a virus? Find out before you attempt it.

Comes with the security suite

Windows Defender offers more than antivirus and anti-malware protection — it provides all-around security. Below are the features that are included in Defender’s security suite:

  • Virus and threat protection
  • Account protection
  • Firewall and network protection
  • App and browser control
  • Device security
  • Device performance and health
  • Family options.

This multi-layered approach to protecting your device is what leads some people to believe that Windows Defender is a good enough solution on its own. At first glance, it does seem like a comprehensive security program… But is Microsoft Defender sufficient for protecting your personal information? We’ll unpack this below.

The downside of Windows Defender

So far, we’ve examined all the benefits of using Windows Defender, and it isn’t short of them. Defender offers users some of the key, basic tools that you’d expect any security software to have, like antivirus and anti-malware protection. However, it has its drawbacks, as listed below.


The cons of using Windows Defender:

  1. Users have to use other Microsoft products for full protection
  2. Doesn't hold up well when accessing phishing sites
  3. DNS filtering only when using Microsoft Edge
  4. Don't have a password manager
  5. Pay extra for cloud backup
  6. Users don't get a VPN

Users have to use other Microsoft products for full protection

Unfortunately, not all anti-spying tools are created equal; some don’t offer sufficient protection against spying — and Microsoft Defender is one of them. The primary reason is that it's missing key tools like a VPN, which is non-negotiable for a cybersecurity solution. A VPN should come standard as part of any cybersecurity software.


You’re taking a huge risk with your privacy if you depend solely on Windows Defender to keep your personal data safe. If you take your privacy seriously, you must install an additional cybersecurity tool to close the gaps.  


Consider using more full-fledged security software like Clario. It’s a reliable anti-spying app that keeps people’s noses out of your business and away from your personal information. In this day and age, people don’t have to steal your computer or mobile phone to access your personal information — they can obtain your data remotely from the other side of the globe. Whether it’s your internet service provider (ISP), or the unrelenting hackers out there, Clario can protect your data from them. Here’s how:

Clario’s VPN hides your IP address so that you can browse the internet anonymously. But there’s so much more than a VPN hides to protect your data. When you use Clario’s VPN, anyone attempting to spy on you to determine what you’re up to has no chance of establishing your online activity, like what websites you visit.  


Wondering if you need one? Here are a few reasons why you need a VPN:

  • To stay safe. When you use a VPN, hackers can’t determine your location, so they won’t know where you’re connecting from. That means they won’t know where you are at the time or where you stay because your home address is protected. This is also helpful when you’re on holiday, as bad actors can’t track your movements.
  • Using a VPN allows you to access websites and streaming services that aren't available in your country. A simple change in location gives you access to a whole new world of streaming that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
  • Anytime you use a public Wi-Fi network, like at an internet café or restaurant, you’re at a greater risk of getting hacked. Enabling Clario’s VPN can reduce the chances of falling victim to a cyber attack.
  • Your internet service provider (ISP) can access your data, like where you connect from and the websites you visit. Using a VPN blocks them from accessing that data.
  • VPNs also prevent apps and websites from making the connection between your activity and your IP address. It can also prevent apps and websites from collecting your location information and browser history.

Clario’s VPN offers everyday, around-the-clock protection from hackers, bad actors, and anyone else who has no business accessing your private data. The Clario app is compatible with Windows, iOS, and Android devices. Setting it up is easy.  


Follow the steps below to start using Clario’s VPN:

  1. Download the Clario app on your device  
  2. Get a subscription to create an account
  3. Toggle on Browsing protection
  4. As an option, you can choose a different location to connect to. Simply tap the location and select the one you prefer from the list. Clario has a comprehensive list of reliable services you can connect to, so you’re spoiled for choice.
  5. Wait until the VPN is on, and you’re good to go.

But that’s not all that Clario offers.  


Clario’s Antivirus tool protects your computer against viruses and malware, through which your personal information can be compromised. It achieves this by scanning your device for any threats. Keeping it enabled ensures that your computer is protected anytime it’s on, so you don’t have to worry about turning it on and off every time.


Clario also has a Data breach monitor that lets you know when your email address has been included in a data dump so that you can secure it. Another one of its valuable tools is Anti-malware protection, which protects against common types of malware threats.  


If you want to secure your device and have peace of mind, look no further than Clario. It encompasses all the anti-spying tools you need in one place, so you don’t need to supplement it with other software.  

Doesn't hold up well when accessing phishing sites

Everyone experiences phishing in some form. Phishing sites are one of the easiest and most effective methods to obtain someone’s personal information.  


Because phishing sites are designed to look like official, existing sites, many unsuspecting users don’t think twice about giving up their personal information, not knowing they’re giving it to hackers, scammers, and cybercriminals. That information could be used to steal your identity, make large purchases, scam others, and so much more.  


Given that phishing is so widespread, you’d expect an anti-spying app like Windows Defender to score high for blocking phishing sites, but that’s not the case. Windows Defender was found to block phishing sites only 68% of the time when browsing in Microsoft Edge.  


This is significantly low compared to Chrome, which blocked phishing sites 90% of the time, and Firefox, which blocked them 89% of the time. When it comes to Windows Defender’s ability to block phishing websites, there’s still room for improvement.

DNS filtering only when using Microsoft Edge

Domain Name System (DNS) filtering is essential for protecting your private information while browsing because it blocks malicious websites. Fortunately, Windows Defender has DNS filtering, but only when you use Microsoft Edge.


But there’s another catch: you can only enjoy the benefits of DNS filtering on other browsers if you upgrade to Windows Defender’s Endpoint or Business version. Because of this bias, you could end up using malicious websites when using a different browser, like Chrome. The features that come with an anti-spying tool like Windows Defender should work on all websites instead of limiting you to one.

Doesn't have a password manager

Windows Defender doesn’t include a password manager, which is essential for anyone wanting to protect their data. Remembering all your passwords can be tricky, especially given the average person juggles about 100 passwords. And keeping a record of them somewhere is risky — anyone can find it and access your accounts.


Using a password manager is one way to stop hackers from getting into your email. But Windows Defender doesn’t afford you that benefit, so you’ll have to use a password manager separately.

Pay extra for cloud backup

If you fall victim to a ransomware attack or other malware attack, your files can be damaged or deleted. That's where cloud backup comes in—it allows you to restore lost or deleted files. Without cloud backup, you can lose important documents forever. That’s why cloud storage is an essential element of any security system.  


But Windows Defender doesn’t offer cloud storage. Instead, Microsoft wants you to use Azure for that. If you want cloud backup, you’ll have to pay up. To be fair, not all antivirus apps offer cloud protection, except for some premium ones. Given that Windows Defender is free, it’s no surprise that it doesn’t have cloud storage.

Users don't get a VPN

As previously mentioned, a VPN is one of the fundamental tools of any anti-spying solution. Everyone needs a VPN, and those who value their privacy know they can’t compromise on it. To be safe, you should use a VPN every day.  


Unfortunately, a VPN service is a key tool that’s missing from Windows Defender. If you want to protect your privacy while using the internet, you must use a VPN tool alongside Windows Defender.

So, is Windows Defender good enough?

Windows Defender isn’t what it used to be — Microsoft has improved it over the years. What was once just an antivirus app has evolved into Microsoft’s built-in anti-spyware protection and all-around security solution. It offers some of the fundamental security tools every security app needs.


But given that it’s free and basic software, is it enough on its own? How reliable is Microsoft Defender? Can you trust it to protect your computer from being monitored by bad actors? Can it truly keep your data private? You should ask yourself these questions no matter which anti-spying tool you use.


Windows Defender is a fairly good solution as far as basics go. However, you need a more comprehensive tool. We’re not telling you to delete Windows Defender, but you should be aware of the risks of depending on it alone to protect your personal information. Fortunately, Windows allows you to use another antivirus or cybersecurity solution concurrently to make up for the tools it lacks. Clario does a thorough job of protecting your data. It’s the trusted and reliable anti-spying tool you need to fully protect your personal information 24/7.

Keep reading

Protect your computer against spies with Clario’s Antivirus tool.

Get started