Windows Defender in the test: is the virus protection good enough?

Windows Defender LogoAs technology advances, it becomes more and more important to have a good one virus protection installed on his computer. For Windows users, Microsoft naturally came up with the idea of ​​equipping its operating system with free protection: Windows Defender. It is now part of the standard equipment on every Windows 8 and Windows 10 computer and is therefore included with the operating system free of charge. There are, of course, others, numerous free antivirus programs, but how good is Windows Defender anyway?

In our test, we took a closer look at Windows Defender. We particularly value the virus protection laid, but also on his Funktionalität and Configuration options.


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    What is Windows Defender?

    Windows Defender is the built in virus protection from Microsoft Windows, which is now an integral part of the operating system. It is true that the antivirus has definitely improved in recent years, which the experts also point out in the tests AV-Test can see, however, there is still room for improvement. As before, one can simply say: Windows Defender is “better than nothing”. Windows Defender may be sufficient, especially if you only do the minimum on your computer. Since it is included for free, it is of course a plus. However, there are now a lot of free alternatives that offer more functions than Windows Defender.

    Advantages and disadvantages of Windows Defender

    Windows now claims to be the most secure operating system. This is mainly due to the fact that Windows Defender is supposed to protect every computer against viruses and malware. In reality, of course, there is still a lot of catching up to do. Virus protection has improved in recent years, but it still cannot compete with other antivirus programs such as TotalAV, measure up. Nevertheless, we took a close look at the virus protection and tested it.


    Windows Defender is generally not the worst antivirus protection out there. That's why you have to mention its advantages here:

    • Free of charge with any Windows operating system (from Windows 8)
    • Extended Windows protection through the Windows security interface
    • Easy handling
    • Suitable for beginners

    Windows Defender Dashboard

    As you can already see on the dashboard, this is relatively simple and straightforward. This virus protection may be sufficient, especially for beginners, but due to the lack of setting options, we strongly recommend that you take a closer look at other antivirus programs. Straight TotalAV, which not only guarantees protection for Windows PCs, came out on top in our tests. A comparison is definitely worth it!


    Free of charge or not - if you look at the advantages and disadvantages, you can see at first glance that additional virus protection is worthwhile.

    • No protection for Mac, Android and iOS. Windows Defender is intended purely for Windows computers - hence the name.
    • Limited functions - you have no real control over the virus scanner, virus detection, or other actions
    • No complete protection against viruses (e.g. ransomware or rootkits). While other antivirus programs have their own functions, e.g. to search directly for rootkits, this is completely absent with Windows Defender.
    • No protection against phishing Websites - if you don't use Edge (Windows own browser)
    • Bad firewall with next to no setup functions
    • Lack of extra features
    • Hardly any updates the virus database
    • No protection for privacy

    Generally speaking, Windows Defender is really just one basic protection is. Especially when you've got a PC. Nevertheless, it is advisable to get an antivirus immediately after purchase that can do a lot more than the built-in protection from Microsoft. And even if you only do the minimum on the computer - as soon as you have a connection to the Internet, you are not protected from the dangers.

    Furthermore, Windows Defender does not offer any protection for privacy or anonymity on the Internet. While most antivirus programs now have additional functions such as VPN, Password managers, data shredders etc. are completely missing here.

    Windows Defender in the test - the virus protection is really that good

    For our test, we used a newly installed computer and tested what the Windows virus protection can really do. We visited phishing websites, downloaded dangerous downloads and also tried to set up the virus protection as well as possible. The result is sobering, however. Nevertheless, we would like to explain the functions of Windows Defender to you step by step.

    The functions

    The functions of Windows Defender are of course limited.

    Windows Defender virus protection

    Antivirus protection

    Windows Defender offers basic protection for every Windows PC. Unfortunately, the virus scanner doesn't allow you to choose whether to specifically scan for rootkits or other malware. However, you can plan the virus scan.

    Windows Defender Updates


    Windows Defender and Security are updated through Windows Updates. In other words: You cannot update the virus protection alone. As you already know, Windows is not updated every day, so there is no update for the virus protection either.


    Windows Firewall

    The built-in firewall allows the administrator to set up rules for incoming and outgoing network traffic. In addition, you can choose whether ma is in a public or private network. Windows Defender's firewall is therefore quite solid.


    Windows parental controlsYouth protection

    A very good feature, which is unfortunately only available online, is the protection of minors. This cloud-based function allows the administrator to make settings for the whole family. Microsoft also allows you to set up your own accounts for the children on the computer. All the settings that you make in the cloud are implemented as soon as the child logs in with their account. Other browsers can be blocked, rules for websites can be created, and much more. Parental controls are one of the best Windows features.



    • PC: From Windows 8

    Windows Defender is only suitable for Windows devices. So if you want to protect your home network and your other devices, you have to use a different anti-virus protection.


    For beginners, Windows Defender is fine. We were less enthusiastic about the virus scanner and the updates than about the firewall, which you can really configure according to your wishes.

    We have that as positive felt:

    • user interface
      Wijndows Defender comes pre-installed with every Windows operating system. This virus protection therefore does not require any extra setup or installation. The settings that you want to make afterwards are also very simple and very good for beginners.
    • Firewall
      The firewall can be configured very well and you can choose between different networks. You can also create your own rules, open or close ports and thus monitor network traffic. By the way, this can also be seen quite well via the task manager
    • Price
      A big plus, of course, is that Windows Defender is free. It is therefore quite suitable as basic protection.
    • Virus scanner speed
      The speed during a scan was around 24 minutes. Windows Defender is therefore in the middle class. However, since there are hardly any additional settings, other values ​​cannot be used here.

    Windows Security

    However, we have that as negative felt:

    • virus protection
      The virus scanner is slow and you cannot really track which folders are currently being searched or which files are being scanned. Also, there are no ways to specifically scan for Trojans, rootkits, or spyware. While this may be easy for beginners, when you've really caught a virus and Windows Defender isn't showing what's being scanned, things get tricky. The virus scan is really only intended for all those who either do not use the Internet or only do the bare minimum on the computer.
    • Compatibility
      As I said, this virus protection only comes with Windows. Mac, Android and iOS are falling by the wayside here. If you want to protect your end devices or your entire network, you should definitely use another anti-virus protection. In comparison, you can start at € 29 at TotalAV get an excellent antivirus that protects up to 3 devices regardless of the operating system.
    • No protection for privacy
      While other antivirus programs already offer VPNs these days, Microsoft is definitely lagging behind. You can of course also choose a good VPN service. We have them for you here. explained.
    • Speed ​​during a scan
      The computer runs very slowly during a virus scan. You can clearly hear that the scan is in progress. This also makes it slower to build websites.
    • Virus scanner speed
      The virus scanner's performance is definitely bad. During one Rapid tests took AVG around 22 minutes, with other antivirus programs being significantly faster. For one It took us almost 2 hours to complete a full scan of our computer - that is not acceptable.

    customer Support

    Windows SupportSince the virus protection comes with Windows, Microsoft is responsible for all your questions about Windows Defender. There is a separate help page with a lot of FAQs and tutorials on how to optimally set Windows Defender and the firewall. And if all else fails, you can still get help directly from Windows. As a rule, one speaks to a bot, but if the question is clearly phrased it immediately brought us to the right problem-solving page. If you have further questions, you can contact support, usually via a remote connection. As a rule, Microsoft only helps with small things - if larger questions arise, you will be advised that this will cost something.


    Windows Defender should really only be viewed as basic protection. Virus protection has improved significantly in recent years, but unfortunately it is still lagging behind. Windows Defender cannot compete with other virus programs such as TotalAV. Even other, free antivirus programs have a better detection rate and setting options than Windows Defender. If you really do not want to install any other antivirus protection, you should at least be very careful on the Internet. If you don't click dubious links or download files, you can work well with Windows Defender. However, the setting for a VPN, for certain scans and, above all, the database update is simply missing here. While other virus providers are updated daily, Windows Defender has to wait until Windows is updated. Unfortunately, this is insufficient.

    Windows Defender in the test: is the virus protection good enough?
    All in all, Windows Defender is a solid base of protection, but it should be replaced with another virus protection as soon as possible. If you value anonymity and privacy, other providers offer many more features. A big plus point is the integrated firewall, but the virus scanner is unfortunately nowhere near as good as other comparable antivirus programs on the market. Phishing websites are also only blocked in Edge - if you use Chrome or another browser, you have to use plugins (and thus also other antivirus programs).
    Real-time protection
    Virus Scanner
    Protection against ransomware
    Web protection
    Privacy and security
    Price-performance ratio
    Other features
    Free of charge
    Solid basic protection
    Mediocre malware detection rate
    No real-time verification
    Rare updates
    No built-in VPN or other tools

    About Jasmin Fuchs

    Jasmin Fuchs studied linguistics and trained in information technology and IT management.