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A number of people have asked us if they need third party virus software to secure their computers or if Windows Defender can be used. The first thing to understand is that no solution is 100% effective and virus defense is only a part of keeping your PC secure. Our research suggests that you can be just as secure using only Windows Defender as you would be with many aftermarket solutions.

Windows Defender Security Center (WDSC) is a much more holistic tool then it was when Defender was first introduced eleven years ago and is more more security suite than the malware detector these days. At a glance, if you are using the defender security center you want the main screen to look like this:

This screen simply shows you that everything is copacetic. All those little green icons would be red if there were problems. If that were the case you could click on the red icon to address the problem. We suggest tweaking the virus and protection area if you are planning on using WDSC as your only virus protection. You can train the firewall as you go and make sure that Smart Screen for the Windows Store is set to warn in the App section.

We compiled some results that seem to indicate that Windows Defender Security Center’s virus protection is effective against 0-day, web, and email threats and is even better (99.9 percent detection) against malware and other known threats. SE Labs gives WDSC an AA rating. If you believe that Norton Security Premium is a better security solution, we wouldn’t argue, we run it here on many machines. It is safe to say, however, that Windows Defender Security Center is Microsoft’s best Windows security offering to date.

Keep your machine updated – which means everything updated: software, drivers, windows, virus definitions – everything – and back everything up all of the time. Make sure that you are using some security suite, and check in on that software every week or so to make sure everything is running smoothly. Windows Defender Security Center is built in, won’t bring your system to a crawl, and provides a reasonable level of security with just a few tweaks.