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Is Defender good enough to protect my Windows 8 PC?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 4, 2013 8:30 AM PST

Is Microsoft Defender good enough to protect my Windows 8 computer?

I just got a new computer with Windows 8 installed which came bundled with Windows Defender -- Microsoft's version of antivirus and antispyware. Can you tell me if this program is sufficient enough to keep viruses and spyware out of my new PC? Or should I consider installing Norton Antivirus or some other trustworthy antivirus app as I did in my old computer? Please advise. Thank you.

--Submitted by: Norman D.
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Defender in Windows 8 includes MSE
by wpgwpg / January 4, 2013 8:45 AM PST
Happy The folks over in the MS forums ( seem to think it is. That's all I'm using on my Windows 8 test computer and so far so good (knock, knock).
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Who's there?
by Heimdall222 / January 12, 2013 5:35 AM PST
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That's funny...
by JCitizen / January 12, 2013 11:03 AM PST

This link doesn't seem to indicate that is so.


Personally if MSE became Windows Defender - I'd disable it and get Avast( or something commensurate with it).

On other Windows operating systems, Defender is just an anti-malware. I like to use it along side other better solutions like MBAM. I've never seen any indication of a conflict. Microsoft has done a lot of improvement on Defender, and I think it is worth enabling on XP/Vista/Win7 32 bit/64 bit. I would NEVER totally depend on it for either malware or especially viruses - although there are grey areas with malware now, that fudge that definition somewhat - the original Defender was never ment to be anything other than an anti-malware NOT an anti-virus.

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Your link is old and related to Windows 7, not Windows 8
by johnneighbors / January 13, 2013 9:16 AM PST
In reply to: That's funny...

Please note that this thread is related to Windows 8 and the fact that Microsoft Defender with Windows 8 is a different animal than Windows Defender for all prior versions of Windows. I don't know the "correct" answer to the original question, but I did clearly recognize the disjoint between the Windows 8-specific nature of the original question and the very old, Windows 7 posting you referred to as a valid answer.

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Pay Attention
by baddog6915 / January 15, 2013 12:10 PM PST
In reply to: That's funny...

Sometimes it pays to be attentive before answering questions!

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It doesn't pay to be in a hurry - that is for sure!
by JCitizen / January 16, 2013 2:32 PM PST
In reply to: Pay Attention
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by Podzak / September 12, 2015 5:19 AM PDT

It does if you're in a race.

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Yes It is
by sorahl / January 4, 2013 9:43 AM PST

I have used Windows Defender for two to three years on all the pcs in my house as well as my in laws house (they are the real proof...if they haven't gotten a virus (which they haven't) then it works.
I have 6 pcs in my house and they have two. I got very tired of the Mcafee bloat and incessant popups to renew so I looked around decided to give Windows Defender a try. We haven't had a virus yet..
On the technical side I have it running on devices with Win 7 Home Prem, Win 7 Pro, Win 7 Ult, WIn 8 Pro, varying AMD and Intel CPU's. incase anyone cares.


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I have to go along with John.
by bo1 / January 4, 2013 10:02 AM PST
In reply to: Yes It is

I am responsible for 6 computers on an office network (CAD?CAM) and 4 at home. windows defender has been used on all for the last couple years, with no viruses getting through. several have been stopped before they could do their thing. Lots of warnings

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actually I do care, and that's good advice..
by feduchin / January 4, 2013 12:43 PM PST
In reply to: Yes It is

Both my daughter and I have been using ZoneAlarm on our laptops for several years, admittedly without any real problems. (My daughter has Windows 7 Professional on a 1.83Mhz machine [around 2009], I have Windows 7 Home Premium on a Core i5, 3 months old.)
Fact is though, I'm a pensioner now and trying to cut down on expenses and considered using Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials.
I have been unsure how to proceed, so the sorahl's advice is useful. I have already tried MSSE, admittedly without any hassles, but was still unsure.
I do believe I heard that Defender has some MSSE stuff in it, is that true?

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Defender is Microsoft Security Essentials
by Armchairplum / January 5, 2013 10:17 PM PST

Just they renamed it to Defender, I believe it also combines their "anti-malware" scanner as well.

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If you are on a budget..
by JCitizen / January 12, 2013 11:49 AM PST

Please get the best free AV out there and use Avast!! It has NEVER let me down. You will have to disable MSE's real time protection to avoid conflict with your operating system and another anti-virus, but there is nothing wrong with using it as a backup scanner.

I don't recommend suite type solutions to my indigent clients and I operate much like they do, so I can take the hit in my ******** lab to test the web-minefields. I always use stand alone free products in an in depth defense posture. This is a tried and true method well documented in IT forums everywhere. This is not new news! For starters, my defenses would be in this general order:

1. One good anti-virus with free real time protection
2. At least two anti-malware with free real time protection
3. At least one good backup scanner for the anti-malware
4. One anti-session riding kernel solution for SSL - If you bank or shop online
5. Secunia - PSI - to assess and update some application automatically
6. One good 3rd party free firewall - especially if you do not have a hardware firewall
7. The best URL reputation indicator(browser plugin) Avast supplies a pretty good one.
8. One host file for blocking malicious servers - per browser if possible
9. At least one good free HIPs to detect file manipulations under the radar(Winpatrol is good)
10. One good free kernel based anti-keylogger. Anti-screen capture is nice(see #4)
11. At least one other update alert tool besides Secunia PSI - File Hippo is one of the best.
12. A good encrypted password manager.
13. Run with limited rights
14. Never disable the UAC - Not a problem with my XP clients.
15. At least one good free backup solution.

All of this can be had for free - but I do recommend paying the little life time fee for MBAM - especially now that it is setup to resist kernel manipulation from malware. I like CCleaner, but as long as you don't mind Zombie cookies in your PC, the Windows file cleaner is good enough. Some of these solutions can protect you even in an infected environment, when you shop or bank online. Kernel based solutions are best, so malware cannot manipulate them, especially in the pre-boot environment.

Also keep a good copy of Kasperski's Rescue Disc 10 around for emergencies or just because you sense suspicious behavior from your operating system. I like the Avast Rescue Disc as well. These are a LiveCD solution, and work in the PE environment. You will need to be able to boot to your optical drive or a USB dongle to use these.

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by bigbear639 / January 13, 2013 1:27 PM PST

I found it to be crap. It constantly nagged me to upgrade to the paid version. I used it temporarily until MSFT came out with a very good and highly rated Family safety which is fast and updates itself. Eventually I was able to install Nortons after finally getting rid of avast, which could only be installed by using an advanced uninstaller after trying several others.
Nortons is free from my ISP up to 7 Computers, I have a free 5 year McAfee on one notebook, as it came with it. another Notebook kept crashing with McAfee and I installed Nortons. No problems with it.

Windows Defender comes with win7 and I run it weekly. It will not run if your A/V or MSFT Security is not up to date.It also will not run on some winXP and will on others depending on the version of the OS.

You can have as many Antimalware progrfams as you wish, Malware anti-malware is great5 and free along with system mechanic.

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by itsdigger / January 13, 2013 1:47 PM PST
In reply to: Avast,

Avast comes wit a silent/gaming mode that I keep it on and never hear a peep from it. It just works ...Digger

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Avast free
by JSofty / January 13, 2013 1:57 PM PST
In reply to: well

I don't think free avast have gaming mode ? Does it ?

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by itsdigger / January 13, 2013 11:03 PM PST
In reply to: Avast free

Avast free comes with a silent/gaming mode. Been using it for years non-stop...Digger

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Oddly Enough...
by Flatworm / January 12, 2013 2:04 AM PST
In reply to: Yes It is

I was one of those contributing to the development of the original DOS-based antivirus program, "VirusSafe," that later grew into McAfee. But I wouldn't put today's McAfee on any machine I own or am in any way responsible for. It is so badly bloated that I'm surprised its users can even get even as much as an email client to boot on it nowadays.

For the same price, Norton Internet Security is the better, perhaps the best, choice (NAV is too little protection, Norton 360 too much bloat, in my opinion).

In the way of a disclaimer, please note that I do not work for or on behalf of Norton or Symantec. I used to be one of their harshest critics until they improved their product so remarkably in 2009 (for the 2010 version).

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How do you know you don't have a virus...
by JCitizen / January 12, 2013 11:11 AM PST
In reply to: Yes It is

Especially when Windows Defender was originally developed as an anti-malware tool. Maybe they changed it for Win8, but Defender has been a real LOSER for my clients that only enable it exclusively. I'm repairing a machine right now that was using MSE that had some of the worst Trojan Dropper and other malware/viruses; and I can tell you the infection on that machine took a week of hard work to clean up.

Normally I wipe and re-install - but the backups failed, and the bugs purposely blocked the IDE controller to the optical drives - I had to pull everything out of my arsenal to get it up a running again. I couldn't even do a PE environment factory restore. That is how bad the malware is getting now-a-days.

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Microsoft security essentials fails A-V certifications
by randy_rogers38 / January 4, 2013 9:49 AM PST
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MSE Fails A-V cert?
by bait28 / January 4, 2013 11:11 AM PST

Really, i have mutiple machines running MSE and Windows 8 defender is supposed to be MSE. so from what i understand it should be good enough. although i haven't done looking myself, every other AV is bloated beyond bloated. so I would say stick with MSE.

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I'd go with you..
by feduchin / January 4, 2013 12:46 PM PST
In reply to: MSE Fails A-V cert?

Frankly unless I hear something more specific I'd go along with you.

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MSE has always been substandard...
by JCitizen / January 12, 2013 11:55 AM PST
In reply to: I'd go with you..

No one who is seriously in the IT-SEC field would use just MSE or the Defender on Win8. Sure - if you don't go any where, or do anything on the web - or if you do all your web work behind a corporate UTM gateway, then sure - MSE is probably good enough.

But the real world for most folks just doesn't work that way.

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Really Now...
by ITproColorado / May 29, 2013 7:22 AM PDT

Drink up all the big AV companies Kool-Aid...
I'm a network administrator and a Windows power user and I've used nothing but MSE on Windows 7 and Defender on Windows 8 for the past 4 years. Our company spent thousands of dollars on GFI enterprise and numerous machines were hit by the FBI Ransom Hijack. Before that, we used ESET enterprise and before that, McAfee. None of those programs were foolproof. If your people want to download and install crap, then no AV is going to stop them from being idiots...and if that particular shoe fits - go ahead and wear it.
With Windows 8 there is no need for additional AV unless you are a user who is intent on bombarding your system with "free" software downloaded via torrents, in which case you deserve to spend the extra money on expensive AV bloatware.
But in the end, no AV program is going to protect a computer from an irresponsible user. Learn how to use a computer and how to be safe online, and Windows Defender will protect you from the random accident.

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Tell my clients that...
by JCitizen / May 29, 2013 10:56 AM PDT
In reply to: Really Now...

MSE has been nothing but an unqualified disaster for them. Think about what you saying. My solutions are free - I don't charge my clients for telling them to install them - what is my motivation? I cannot take money from any corporation because it will affect my disability payments. I do this because I HATE web criminals - that is my PRIMARY motivation! What is yours? Confused

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So is Defender good enough?
by Baixe / November 18, 2013 6:15 AM PST

So is defender good enough to protect a pc that is on the net most of the time?
I've bought AVG Premium Security, but I still get pop ups when I'm on the net. And sometimes youtube even stop playing then the internet has to restart.

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Only if the computer user is good.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 18, 2013 6:24 AM PST

I can't tell but just last week I was in a shop where the customer was upset that the antivirus suite didn't stop the issue that landed them at the service counter. The story was about torrent downloads, cracks and well, no system I know of will protect a Windows PC from it's owner.

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Defender is only one rivet...
by JCitizen / November 18, 2013 12:32 PM PST

in the armor that is the blended defense - However I am not talking about the "Defender" on Windows 8 as it is an anti-virus as well as an anti-malware. I will never trust Windows Defender as the singular AV product on any client I work for - I'd be in deep do-do. One of the worst infections I've ever fought was from a client whose MBAM trial expired and had MSE installed, which is "essentially" the same thing.

I may turn the malware side of Defender on Windows operating systems that will let me do that, but I use other AV instead. Avast is the best free one - bar none; but the best paid solutions are still ESET's NOD32, Kaspersky's, and despite protest to the contrary, many of my clients love Norton Internet Security. I say it is a waste of good money, but it has run very well on older XP hardware, so I can't dismiss it entirely. One also has to blend a good passive and active defense against malware; which are the biggest threat to your pocketbook anyway. CNET user reviews can point you to the best free ones out there. The threatscape is ever changing - what may be the darling of today, will be the biggest loser tomorrow.

Also - I hate to sound so negative, but AVG has been another disaster for my clients - I can't count the laptops that it has destroyed from bad drivers, data corruption, and even in the news, it was reported that some bad Grisoft updates actually damaged the hardware on some computers. I can believe that, since one of my clients that didn't listen to me - lost her brand new laptop motherboard immediately upon an AVG update that incidentally happened on that same news day! - Just another one of those disasters I keep talking about. I've said for a while that friends don't let friends do AVG.

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Link not working
by mrblanche / January 4, 2013 10:42 PM PST

Odd that that TechSpot link doesn't seem to be working. In fact, I went separately to their site and checked "MS Essentials test" and got a complete failure to load.

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modify the link
by unclesmrgoldragon / January 5, 2013 12:56 PM PST
In reply to: Link not working

click the link, and then take off the "le" from the end of "html". That should work.

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Avast and Defender cannot be used at the same time on Win 8
by remmeler / January 11, 2013 12:37 PM PST

Once I activated Avast on Windows 8, MS would not allow me to activate Defender

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