How to Protect Your Computer from Viruses with Windows 10 Defender

By Andy Rathbone

To combat the problem of viruses, Windows 10 includes Windows Defender, a free security and antivirus program. When it comes to viruses, everything is suspect. Viruses travel not only through e-mail messages, programs, files, networks, and flash drives, but also in screen savers, themes, toolbars, and other Windows add-ons.

Windows Defender scans everything that enters your computer, whether through downloads, e-mail, networks, messaging programs, flash drives, or discs. Unless you tell it not to, Windows Defender casts a watchful eye on your OneDrive files, as well.

When Windows Defender notices something evil trying to enter your computer, it lets you know with a message, as shown here. Then Windows Defender quickly quarantines the virus before it has a chance to infect your computer.

When Windows Defender notices an intruder, it lets you know immediately with this message and then
When Windows Defender notices an intruder, it lets you know immediately with this message and then begins removing the intruder.

Windows Defender automatically updates itself to recognize new viruses, and it constantly scans your PC for threats in the background. But if your PC acts strangely, tell Windows Defender to scan your PC immediately by following these steps:

  1. Click the taskbar’s Windows Defender icon (shown here) near the clock.

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    Windows Defender appears.

  2. Click the program’s Scan Now button.

    Windows Defender immediately performs a quick scan of your PC.

Even with Windows Defender watching your back, follow these rules to reduce your risk of infection:

  • Open only attachments that you’re expecting. If you receive something unexpected from a friend, don’t open it. Instead, e-mail or phone that person to ask whether he or she really sent you something.

  • Be wary of items arriving in e-mail that ask for a click. For example, if you receive a message saying somebody wants to be a Facebook friend, don’t click it. Instead, visit Facebook from your browser and look to see whether the person is listed on your “waiting to be friended” list. The more e-mailed links you can avoid, the safer you’ll be.

  • If you receive an important-looking e-mail from a financial institution that asks you to click a link and type in your name and password, dont do it. Instead, visit your financial institution’s website through your web browser and log in there. Chances are good that there’s nothing wrong with your account, and that e-mail was only trying to steal your username and password. (This type of scam is often called phishing.)

  • Updates for Windows Defender arrive automatically through Windows Update. Windows 10 keeps Windows Update running constantly, so you don’t need to worry about keeping Windows Defender updated.

  • If you prefer running a third-party antivirus programs, you’re welcome to do so. It will turn off Windows Defender automatically as part of its install process. But don’t install two third-party antivirus programs, because they often quarrel.