Windows Defender vs Antivirus Software: Free Protection Is Insufficient

Recently, we received similar questions from our viewers:

“Just read your top rated antivirus programs and I wonder how you would rate the Windows Defender that comes with Windows 10?” -Tim

“I was told that with Windows Defender, we don’t need any other programs. …What do you recommend?” –Anita

It’s hard not to feel like your bases are covered with a name like Windows Defender, but is it good enough to protect you and your devices from hackers?

While some users were surprised to see that with the frequency of real-time scanning that viruses managed to infiltrate their systems, others were even more shocked to find that once they found the viruses , Windows Defender couldn’t do anything about it.

Many users are now wondering if this is a sufficient standalone option to protect their computer.

It is absolutely essential to have antivirus security protection, especially if you are using Windows. Since Windows Defender is automatically installed on Windows 10 and 11, it is very easy to activate and use it.

However, while it might be easy to just “click and go”, it’s important to know if it’s powerful enough to be your main antivirus software or to see if stronger antivirus protection is better for you.

What is Windows Defender?

Before we even get to the nitty-gritty of whether or not Windows Defender compares to any of the third-party antivirus software we recommend in Best Antivirus Protection in 2022, it’s important to understand what it actually does.

Found in Windows 10 or later security settings, Windows Defender helps identify various security threats and protect certain aspects of its user’s experience.

It comes preinstalled with Windows 10 and 11, which means you don’t have to do anything else to use it. If no other antivirus software is detected or disabled, Windows Defender turns on automatically.

Windows Defender


  • Free
  • Already integrated into your Windows operating system
  • Will scan for offline vulnerabilities and reboot to eliminate persistent malware
  • Comes with a firewall and the “Find My Device” function, which locates, locks and, if necessary, erases your computer (Windows 10/11)
  • Protects most Microsoft products on the computer it is running on
  • Protects against real-time threats, which means its main purpose is to prevent viruses, spyware, worms, ransomware or malware from getting onto your device in the first place

The inconvenients

  • Does not protect against phishing or spam, where many viruses and malicious threats are introduced to your device
  • Only works on the Windows 10/11 computer it’s installed on, so if you’re a multi-device household, you might be vulnerable
  • Some users complain that it is not updated fast enough with current threats allowing many to sneak into your PC
  • Only works on other Microsoft products, which means if you are using other browsers such as Firefox or Chrome, Windows Defender benefits will not work
  • Additionally, this means that parental controls that are part of Windows Defender only work with Edge, the Microsoft browser
  • Although you can put the Microsoft Family Safety apps on iOS and Android devices, it requires a paid subscription to Microsoft Office 365
  • Only protects Microsoft products on your computer so third-party apps or programs remain vulnerable to security and privacy breaches

Will antivirus security software provide better protection?

Is Windows Defender Secure Enough

The short answer is yes. The explanation shares an understanding of what most third-party antivirus software provides when Windows Defender falls short.

Powerful antivirus security software


  • Most have plans that give you the option to protect one or more computers as well as other devices, such as your phone or tablet.
  • Unlike Windows Defender which only focuses on real-time threats, most other antivirus programs can also scan archive files and non-Microsoft based programs.
  • More rigorous in detecting, blocking, isolating and helping you eliminate viruses, malware and other threats on your computer
  • Most also have broader features such as dark web monitoring, anti-phishing, spam guards, VPN or password managers.

The inconvenients

  • Costs extra money and many require renewal fees if it’s a subscription program
  • Requires installation on all devices you want to be protected on
  • It can be confusing and overwhelming sorting out the different features and prices of different subscription programs. (Get clarification and recommendations by referring to the Best Virus Protection 2022 article.)
  • Requires a little more attention than a more passive program like Windows Defender because some antivirus software lets you review quarantined threats before removal or other action

It’s definitely better to have Windows Defender running than nothing. It is not a real substitute for good antivirus security protection. Windows Defender fails to detect many threats. And worse, it doesn’t help you once the issues come to your PC.

How to uninstall Windows Defender?

If you want to protect yourself further with third-party antivirus software like our top pick, Total AV, it would be best to completely uninstall Windows Defender.

This way, there are no conflicting actions or duplicate efforts that can both eat up space and performance speed.

Step-by-step instructions for disabling Windows Defender

1) Click on the windows icon in the lower left corner

2) Click ‘Settings

How to uninstall Windows Defender

How to uninstall Windows Defender3) Click ‘Update and security‘ so ‘Windows Security

4) Click ‘Protection against viruses and threats

How to uninstall Windows Defender

5) A few options down you will see ‘Microsoft Defender,’ Click it

6) Click the toggle to disable periodic scan

How to uninstall Windows Defender

Overall, Windows Defender is an enhanced feature that provides some basic benefits for those who don’t have third-party antivirus software.

If you’re serious about the safety and security of all your devices—and you should be—then third-party antivirus software like Total AV will protect you better.

Have you used Windows Defender? Or do you feel safer using another third-party antivirus solution? Let us know in the comments below which worked best for you.

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About Sandra A. Powell

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