Windows Defender has received a major upgrade in terms of features, and its clear that Microsoft wants to make sure that every Windows 10 user has an Antivirus + PC protection tool installed on their system to start. At the end its matter of choice which protection solution one chooses, in our view Windows Defender is good enough for casual users.
Windows Defender is now known as Windows Defender Security Center. It just doesn’t deal with viruses anymore but also takes care of security systems which include Firewall, Device performance, App and browser control, and Family options.
Windows Defender Security Center
When you launch the WDSC app, it reveals the dashboard which displays wellness status of the machine. If it’s all green, the machine is having a good time, else it needs your attention when highlighted with red. The dashboard as well defined menu to give you quick access to all the sections.
You get to see the last scan date, last update for antivirus definition, and health scan.
Virus & Threat Protection
This section is your Antivirus center and other threat protection. It has its own dashboard, but let’s talk about what you can do here, and what the system does for you.
- View Scan History.
- Perform Quick and Advanced Scan.
- Advanced Scan includes Offline Scan as well which is very useful for that kind of threats which doesn’t get treated when the system is connected online. It also the fallback method to scan when everything else fails.
- Followed by this you have Settings.
- You can choose to toggle real-time protection.
- Cloud-based protection.
- Automatic sample submission
- Exclusions to skip programs which sometimes are not viruses, but create false positive.
- Notification controls.
The good thing about Windows Defender is that it can be turned off, and you can opt in to choose third party software. You can disable it by reading the full details here.
Device Performance & Health
Since not everybody is geeky enough to figure out issues when the device performance goes slow, WDSC has this feature inbuilt. This feature delivers reports about issues impacting device health for Windows Update, Storage Capacity, Device Drivers, and Battery Life.
On my Windows 10 device, I always use brightness to the max level and have turned off sleep timer. I usually like to do it manually instead of it turning it off on its own. Since this impact battery life, I did get a warning about it with a direct link to the respective settings where I can change this behavior.
One important feature Microsoft has included in this section is Fresh Start. You can use it as the last resort when there is no other way to improve the performance of your device. It will start fresh with a clean, and up-to-date installation of Windows. This will keep your personal files, and some Windows Settings, and remove some of the apps. This ultimately may help you to boost the performance of your device as well.
Firewall & Network Protection
Firewall is the most basic way to control whats going out of your PC on the network, and what is connecting back to your PC. This feature has been there for ages, but now it’s more upfront for everyone. This makes sure to keep off most of the malicious attacks on the PC.
You can do the following:
- Toggle Firewall when on Public and Private Network. I would suggest you to keep as is so it uses the defaults when you are moving from one location to another connecting to various networks.
- Allow / Disallow Apps through Firewall
- Network and Internet Troubleshooter.
- Firewall and Notification Settings.
- Advance Settings.
- Restore firewall to defaults.
IMO, the firewall section is here very basic, and still not very easy for everybody to use. I would have loved if Microsoft would have come with a Wizard option here to guide everyone setting it up.
App & browser control through SmartScreen
SmartScreen Filter helps you identify reported phishing and malware websites and also helps you make informed decisions about downloads. In Windows 10 it can:
- Check for unrecognized apps, and files from the Web.
- Protect your device from malicious sites and downloads when using Edge.
- Warn about Web content that Store App uses.
The warning levels are configurable between Block, Warn and Off. I will suggest you leave this to defaults for the best experience.
This is one feature which I expected Microsoft to bring right into Windows 10, but it is still web based. However, it does make sure people know about this upfront. It gives any user a clear idea of the parental controls which:
- Help protect your kids online.
- Set Good screen time habits.
- Keep track of your child’s life
- Let your kids buy appropriate apps ad games.
This extends to all Windows 10 devices, and Xbox One. More here
There is a global settings page for the app as well which gives you basic options about Antivirus & Firewall Notifications (private and public). That said, Windows Defender has come a long way, and I expect it to evolve as native part of the OS.