Windows Defender versus antivirus programs on Windows 7

October 19, 2014 at 17:03:46
Specs: Win 7
What distinguishes Windows Defender from antivirus programs?
How are they different? Why are they two separate antimalware
programs rather than one?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#1
October 19, 2014 at 17:41:02
Windows Defender runs continuously in the background and is effectively a basic antivirus. As far as I am aware it runs as one program. It was bolstered up and the name was dropped for a while in favour of Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). MSE appeared in Windows 8, called "Windows Defender" once again. These might be of interest:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window...

Not everyone rates it as highly as a commercial antivirus such as Avast.

Pity MS have this habit of changing names back and forth - they cause confusion. For example Outlook Express and Outlook are a lot different. The latest Outlook is not much like the original one either.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

message edited by Derek


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#2
October 19, 2014 at 18:46:43
The "Windows Defender" I'm referring to is the one installed
with Windows 7. (SP-1, if that makes a difference.) In the
Action Center, Windows Defender is the default "Spyware
and unwanted software protection", while "Virus protection"
has no built-in program. Apparently the expected user action
is to add a third-party antivirus program while continuing to
use Windows Defender. As if the jobs they do are somehow
distinct. If that is so, I'm curious as to what the distinction is.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#3
October 20, 2014 at 01:58:04
Windows Defender is the default anti-malware and comes installed on Win 7 and Win 8. Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is a free antivirus package from Microsoft. Both deliver basic protection but not very effective on removal once threats have slipped through. Commercial anti-malware packages usually deactivate Windows Defender.

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#4
October 20, 2014 at 05:50:10
Defender is for spyware only, it is not anti-virus. It is disabled when 3rd party AV programs, including MSE, are installed.

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/...


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#5
October 20, 2014 at 08:10:07
I disable Windows defender and use Malwarebytes to run scans if I suspect I have a problem. Windows defender does work, but in my view is less effective than 3rd party alternatives.

To err is human but to really screw things up, you need a computer!


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#6
October 20, 2014 at 08:35:11
Yep #4 is spot on for Windows 7 which is the case in point. On Win 8 it is another name for MSE so it's rather more.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#7
October 20, 2014 at 09:48:35
So you seem to be suggesting that antivirus programs will typically
catch most or all of the malware that Windows Defender catches.
Is that right?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#8
October 20, 2014 at 13:06:31
The old Windows Defender that is built into Win 7 is unremarkable and will catch less than third party AV's. MSE (available for Win 7) and WD in Win 8 are a lot better.

Bear in mind that different anti-malware or antivirus programs can catch what others will miss, so there is no "catch-all" AV. Reviews do not rate even the Win 8 Windows Defender too highly these days, although some folk manage fine with just that.

For Win 7 it is better to install a more ambitious program than WD - even MSE. If you install MSE in Win 7 it should disable WD.

Best AV is a matter of opinion so it's worth looking at test results. A lot of folk put Avast at the top of the pile of good freebies.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

message edited by Derek


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#9
October 20, 2014 at 13:12:52
bitdefender is on the top of the free for home use list.

Answers are only as good as the information you provide.
How to properly post a question:
Sorry no tech support via PM's


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#10
October 20, 2014 at 13:32:57
Re #8
According to another helper on here Bitdefender slowed down several XP computers it was tried on. Might well be OK for Win 7 though so it's worth a go.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#11
October 20, 2014 at 19:28:36
It still isn't clear to me how Windows Defender is different from
antivirus programs. The description in Action Center indicates
that Windows Defender is NOT an antivirus program. Action
Center seems to want the user to have both Windows Defender
AND an antivirus program.

Here's my guess:

Windows Defender has a subset of the functions of a typical
antivirus program. Once such an antivirus program is installed,
Action Center will no longer ask for Windows Defender to be
running, because its functions are handled by the AV program.

Does that sound right?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#12
October 20, 2014 at 19:38:19
Another Question About Windows Defender

Does Windows Defender have *any* capability to do anything
when it is first installed and has not yet downloaded any updates?
Or is it *completely* incapable of doing anything at all, however
rudimentary?

Is it the same for ALL antivirus programs?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#13
October 21, 2014 at 08:54:36
I think you've got it about right - it is borderline so it's debateable as to whether you call it an antivirus or not. It will have the original data base when first installed but after update it will add all the known threats that have come along since.

In principle it is the same for all antivirus programs although most commercial ones also do a "heuristic" scan which picks up things that have a similar structure to viruses (for optional deletion). Windows Defender on Windows 7 is too minimal to be of much value. You either install MSE instead or you obtain a commercial antivirus both of which have much larger databases.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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