How to Use Windows Defender - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

Microsoft dislikes the word malicious as much as you do — hence the folks in Redmond included Windows Defender to help you eliminate both viruses and spyware throughout your system.

If you’re not familiar with the term, spyware is software that is designed to collect personal information that you enter through your browser, e-mail, and even IM applications. It’s Nasty Stuff, and if your PC is afflicted with a number of them you’ll actually see your computer’s performance drop significantly. They should be terminated quickly and with prejudice.

Windows Defender offers more limited protection against viruses than a dedicated antivirus program does. (You should use both Windows Defender and avast! Free Antivirus.) Remember, your PC needs full-time antivirus protection, and that means using a third-party application along with Windows Defender.

You can run Windows Defender at any time from the Start screen — type Windows Defender and click the Windows Defender button in the Search results pane. From the Windows Defender screen, click the Scan Now button to start a manual scan. However, Windows Defender works best when it’s set to automatically run in real time.

To make sure that Windows Defender is working full-time for you, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Windows Defender screen.

  2. Click the Settings tab and then click the Real-Time Protection item in the list at the left.

  3. Select the Turn On Real-Time Protection (Recommended) check box to enable it.

  4. Click Save Changes.


If Windows Defender does recognize a virus or spyware attack, it asks for confirmation before deleting the malicious intruder.