Does Windows 10 Need Antivirus Protection?

Going without antivirus protection could put you at risk

Image of computer security symbols.

 
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For many years, Windows users had to immediately install antivirus software or else it wouldn't be long before the computer would be infected with malicious software. So does Windows 10 need antivirus protection?

The short answer is, yes.

Why Isn't Windows Defender Good Enough?

Windows 10 now provides build-in security in the form of Windows Defender, which includes both an antivirus and a firewall component.

Screenshot of Windows Defender main screen

Many people do decide to opt out of installing third-party firewall software and only use Windows Defender. But is that really the best option?

According to a study conducted by AV Comparatives, Windows Defender antivirus for Windows 10 performed well overall, but fell short in a few important areas.

  • It fell behind industry average in preventing zero-day attacks.
  • It caused more false positives (identifying valid software as malicious).
  • It slows down legitimate software more than other apps.
  • It has no password manager.
  • It has limited customization compared to other antivirus software.

Windows 10 Security Vulnerabilities

There are a number of reasons Windows 10 is typically more vulnerable to hackers and malware than Mac OS.

  • Windows 10 is mainstream. Since there are still many more Windows 10 users in the world than any other operating system, hackers consistently target Windows 10 vulnerabilities. This means it's far more likely there will be a new virus targeting Windows 10 each year.
  • Windows 10 users can download anything. Mac users have access to a built-in utility called Gatekeeper. This utility blocks users from installing software that doesn't come from an approved developer. Mac users can still install unapproved software, but they have to knowingly confirm that they wish to take that risk. Windows 10 users can download and install anything they like.
  • Windows doesn't always have full disk encryption. Mac computers include an app called FileVault that encrypts all files stored on the hard drive. Windows users could use similar apps, but they don't come pre-installed, and most Windows 10 users don't bother using them. This puts your sensitive files at risk if your computer is ever stolen.
  • OS updates are not free. When you buy an Apple PC, any time Apple releases a new version of the operating system, you can download and install it on your system for free. With the Microsoft Windows OS, whenever a new operating system comes out, you need to purchase it before installing. This means there are still users of Windows 7 or Windows 8 no longer receiving security patches, which put their system at great risk.
  • Microsoft is slow to offer patches. Standard Microsoft updates roll out a couple of times a year. When security vulnerabilities are identified (like zero day exploits), Microsoft rolls out critical security patches. However Microsoft is notoriously slow, compared to Apple, to roll out those security patches. This puts Windows 10 users at great risk between the time the vulnerability is found and when their system is actually patched.

Overcoming Windows 10 Security Issues

All of the reasons listed above are why installing an antivirus for Windows 10 is critical. Many times, the companies that sell antivirus software are faster at issuing patches for zero-day vunerabilities than Windows itself is.

They also include file and app scanning features that protect you when you accidentally download infected files or applications from the internet.

Image of an antivirus warning alert
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In addition to installing antivirus software on your Windows 10 PC, the following actions can further help protect you against malicious software and hacking attacks.

  • Install disk encryption software. There are many excellent full disk encryption apps for Windows 10. Choose one and use it on your system for full privacy in case your computer gets stolen.
  • Enable Windows updates. Select the Start menu, type Windows Updates, and select Windows Update Settings. Select Advanced Options and Enable Automatically download updates. This will ensure your system always receives the latest updates and patches.
  • Be cautious with downloads. Only download and install software from trusted companies. If you do need to install free software, make sure to do your research and read reviews.

These manual actions, as well as installing good antivirus software on top of using Windows Defender, will ensure that your Windows 10 system is as secure as possible against all threats.

The Best Antivirus for Windows 10

Windows Defender offers good, free protection against viruses and malware, but your Windows 10 computer has security needs where Windows Defender falls short.

For full protection from malicious software, you need antivirus software with all of the following features that are lacking in Windows Defender. This means that even if you use Windows Defender, you should install additional antivirus protection that has all of the following features.

  • Excellent protection against zero-day attacks.
  • Scanning of file downloads.
  • Automatic system scans.
  • Customization options.
  • Web browsing protection.
  • Privacy features.

There are a number of highly rated antivirus apps that provide most if not all of these features. The best antivirus for Windows 10 include Symantec, Kapersky, AVG, and PC Tools.

AVG is particularly useful because you can download a free version of AVG that offers excellent protection for your PC.

Screenshot of AVG Free Antivirus.

Once you install antivirus software on your computer system, you'll notice that Windows Defender recognizes it and incorporates it into the overall protection scheme for your system.

Screenshot of Windows Defender running alongside antivirus software.

If you select Windows Defender Antivirus options, you can also enable Periodic scanning to have Windows Defender continue scanning your computer for any threats that your antivirus software may have missed.

There are a lot of reasons antivirus for Windows 10 is necessary, but following all of the tips above will ensure that your system is well protected against any security threats.