Windows Defender for Vista - dummies

Windows Defender for Vista

By Andy Rathbone

Windows Defender is new in Windows Vista. Windows Defender stops some spyware from installing itself automatically and pries off spyware that’s already latched onto your PC.

Spyware and parasites are programs that latch onto Internet Explorer without your knowledge. The sneakiest programs may try to change your home page, dial toll numbers with your modem, or spy on your Web activity, sneaking your surfing habits back to the spyware program’s publisher.

Nobody wants these ugly programs, of course, so they do tricky things to keep you from removing them. That’s where Vista’s new Windows Defender program comes in. It stops some spyware from installing itself automatically and removes spyware that’s already latched onto your PC. Best yet, Windows Update keeps Windows Defender up-to-date to recognize and destroy the latest strains of spyware.

To make sure that Windows Defender is running automatically on your PC, visit Windows Security Center. When running automatically, Windows Defender scans your PC each evening and alerts you to any newfound spyware.

To make Windows Defender scan your PC immediately, a potential solution when your PC is acting strange, click the Start menu, choose All Programs, and launch Windows Defender. Click the Scan button and wait for it to finish.

Several other antispyware programs can also scan your computer for spyware, carefully snipping out any pieces that they find. Some programs are free in the hopes that you’ll buy the more full-featured version later. Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy are two of the most popular programs.