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Protect Your PC with Windows Defender

Windows Defender, the preinstalled security tool for Windows 10, is better than ever. Defender now includes cloud-based protection and automatic analysis of suspicious software or files. You can even run a powerful offline scan that can pick up nasties that a normal scan may not.

Set Up Defender

By default, Windows Defender should already by running but if you are using a PC that has had anti-virus software on in the past, parts of it may have been disabled.

  1. The first thing to do is check that Defender is already running. You can quickly check this by clicking on 'Show hidden icons' (the small arrow button) at the righthand end of the taskbar. If you see the Defender shield logo, you are protected. At least, you are protected partially.
  2. Now it's time to check out the Defender settings and features. You can right-click on the icon in the hidden icons pop-up, and then click Open. You can also, in the search box on the taskbar, type Defender and then select Windows Defender from the list of results.
  3. Since the Creators update of April '17, Defender is much more in keeping, design-wise, with the rest of the Windows 10 interface, although it still opens in a separate window. The Defender Security Center is split into several sections, including anti-virus, firewall and device performance.
  4. Below each of the section icons, you can see basic info about that section, including whether it is currently enabled or not. Click on any of the section titles and you are able to see more information, along with any options available for that particular part of Defender.

Running a Virus Scan

You can scan your PC for viruses in a couple of different ways with Windows Defender. Clickthe Virus & Threat Protection icon to get started.

  1. If you are using a third-party antivirus program, such as Kaspersky or AVG, it will say so at the top of the window. If you want to check exactly which, click the link 'View antivirus providers'. This opens the Windows Control Panel. Click Security to open the panel and look for Virus Protection.
  2. You can still use Defender to scan for viruses, with or without other anti-virus software present. Back in the Virus & Threat Protection window, click the Quick scan button to get started. A progress bar appears, along with some details of files scanned and time elapsed.
  3. You can, if you are not sure the Quick scan is enough, perform an offline scan. This is a much deeper scan and certainly takes longer to perform. It is, however, much more likely to find some of the more devious viruses and other threats. Click Advanced scan and select offline scan → Scan now.
  4. The other options here let you check for protection updates, as well as change the Virus & Threat protection settings; for example whether real-time protection is on. You can also choose files or software to exclude from scans and change the notification settings for Windows Defender.

Windows Firewall

A firewall is often the first defence against viruses and other Internet nasties, so make sure you at least use the one provided by Windows 10.

  1. You should always run Windows Firewall even if you have another firewall turned on. Turning off Windows Firewall might make your device, and your network if you have one, more vulnerable to unauthorised access.
  2. To turn Windows Firewall on or off, select the Start button, open Windows Defender Security Center → Firewall & network protection, choose a network profile and then under Windows Firewall, turn it on or off.