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Windows Defender Gets Perfect Scores in Antivirus Test

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Performance issues, privacy concerns and other problems make it harder than ever to recommend third-party antivirus solutions on Windows. Now it's about to become even more difficult: TechSpot reported that AV-Test, an independent organization that evaluates security products, gave Windows Defender perfect scores across its three evaluation categories after testing 20 antivirus products made for Windows 10 throughout May and June.

AV-Test rated each security offering based on its protection, performance and usability. The highest possible score in each category was six (the organization's use of half-point values results in a 12-point scale). Windows Defender 4.18, F-Secure SAFE 17, Kaspersky Internet Security 19 and Norton Security 22.17 were the only services to receive perfect scores in all three categories. Many others stumbled in several important areas.

This doesn't mean systems running these solutions are impervious to attack. That level of perfection--despite what some may claim--isn't feasible. Instead, these perfect scores means the offerings defended against known threats with a minimal impact on performance and without undue frustration. (More information about how AV-Test evaluates protection, performance and usability is on its website.) Nothing's truly perfect.

These findings show that Windows Defender is just as good as leading third-party antivirus solutions. It's almost enough to make us feel bad for these other companies; it's hard to compete with a well-performing solution that comes bundled with Windows 10 and is made by Microsoft. Just ask Netscape. The main difference is that people can actually benefit from Microsoft's efforts rather than suffering because of its monopolistic impulses.

Antivirus solutions can sometimes create more problems than they solve. Installing them gives another company nearly complete access to a system, and that access can be abused, as "cleaner" utilities have demonstrated. Antivirus solutions can also have their own vulnerabilities for attackers to exploit. Many also prey on non-savvy users to push other services, too, or constantly attempt to get the user's attention for practically no reason.

Windows Defender is supposed to--and according to AV-Test's findings actually does--offer many of the benefits of third-party antivirus solutions without as many of the drawbacks. Microsoft went a bit too far to push Windows Defender a few years ago, which is why it ultimately capitulated to Kaspersky's complaints about anti-competitive practices, but it's hard to argue against good cyber security

Like we said: Windows Defender isn't perfect. It has its own vulnerabilities, and we're sure that some Windows 10 users have been annoyed by the utility, too. But at least people who don't want or can't afford other antivirus solutions have a built-in utility that bests other free options.

  • mamasan2000
    Thats nice. Windows Defender has never found or stopped any viruses or malware. But Avast and Malwarebytes has.
    Reply
  • Metal Messiah.
    That's interesting !! But this comes as a surprise, to be honest. I always thought Windows Defender was a bit finicky tool though.
    Reply
  • velocityg4
    Windows Defender has been doing quite well at AV- Comparatives for a while now. It's convinced me to use it in my computers using a free anti-virus. As they kept up the good results rather than it being a fluke.

    It's downside being overly aggressive with false positives. It's better than the daily ads of other AV. Even worse someone like Avast who keeps installing extra free security junk with every program update.

    I still use a paid anti-virus for my main computers. Partly because I have a five year license for five computers. Everything else uses Defender now. If the Defender track record holds when my license expires. I'll rotate those computers to Defender as well.
    Reply
  • bloodroses
    mamasan2000 said:
    Thats nice. Windows Defender has never found or stopped any viruses or malware. But Avast and Malwarebytes has.

    I've had Defender find a few viruses before. For the most part it has worked quite well and is light on resources. It is currently the main AV I use with my own equipment. I also try to maintain good browsing habits and use Linux (or a VM) if I intend to go someplace questionable.

    With Avast I kept getting false positives; along with AVG and Avira. You'll definitely want to keep stuff backed up since those will remove files on you with or without your permission.

    Norton, McAfee, Trend Micro, and NOD32 I stopped using a long time ago.

    Bitdefender, Kaspersky, and Panda I've had good luck with. I have Kaspersky on my parents machine.

    Malwarebytes works quite well for me (a couple false positives though). Honestly, I never expected AV programs to act as malware removal so it is always on my and parents machines along with Sophos anti-rootkit.
    Reply
  • Metal Messiah.
    I once asked a forum question regarding AV before, and it seems @Eximo was correct. With so many AVs in the market, sometimes it gets very confusing which one is the best.

    Sorry to go Off topic though. I will try using Windows Defender once again:

    https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/best-antivirus-software.3487457/
    Reply
  • velocityg4
    bloodroses said:
    I've had Defender find a few viruses before. For the most part it has worked quite well and is light on resources. It is currently the main AV I use with my own equipment. I also try to maintain good browsing habits and use Linux (or a VM) if I intend to go someplace questionable.

    With Avast I kept getting false positives; along with AVG and Avira. You'll definitely want to keep stuff backed up since those will remove files on you with or without your permission.

    Norton, McAfee, Trend Micro, and NOD32 I stopped using a long time ago.

    Bitdefender, Kaspersky, and Panda I've had good luck with. I have Kaspersky on my parents machine.

    Malwarebytes works quite well for me (a couple false positives though). Honestly, I never expected AV programs to act as malware removal so it is always on mine and parents machines along with Sophos anti-rootkit.

    I always keep Malwarebytes handy. I've never looked at it as an anti-virus. More of a cure. I use an anti-virus to prevent infection. I use Malwarebytes if something gets through to wipe it out. For my computers it's just double checking manually. I can't recall the last time malware ever got through. But I do wipe out a lot of malware on clients computers with it.

    Kaspersky was good and I used it for a while. It's ratings slipped for a while and they had a larger impact on system resources than others. For paid I switched to Avira. They had an excellent record. That automatically removing a file is annoying though. It's really annoying with some game mods.

    Metal Messiah. said:
    I once asked a forum question regarding AV before, and it seems @Eximo was correct. With so many AVs in the market, sometimes it gets very confusing which one is the best.

    Sorry to go Off topic though. I will try using Windows Defender once again:

    https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/best-antivirus-software.3487457/

    There really isn't a best. The top spot changes quarterly as new results come out. Just stick with one with a consistently high rating and low resource impact. The most important protection is the user following safe computing practices.
    Reply
  • Eximo
    I've been using Windows Defender since Windows 7. I think I've been infected once.

    I can only recall one time Windows defender actually catching something on its way in.

    Even my father hasn't had issues in years which I relayed in the other post. And that is saying something, it used to be once every few months I would spend an entire evening cleaning the system up. Those websites are still pure evil. I can't imagine the sheer cost in man hours places like that waste every year. And then there are the 'driver' websites, and such, not sure why they are allowed to exist.

    It is that or people finally figured out there is more money in data mining than malware/adware.
    Reply
  • Mandark
    I only use defender and malwarebytes. Never ever had one virus. But I don’t do things to get viruses
    Reply
  • daglesj
    Defender is okay, I use it. They all get beat so there is no perfect AV out there, mainly just annoying ones filled with junk.

    To be honest switch to a standard user account for day to day use and that takes care of most of it. MS really needs to move away from admin accounts being the default especially for Windows 10 home.
    Reply
  • A Stoned Wookie
    This doesn't surprise me. I got several trojan's a while back that Avast couldn't pick up and stumped my system. I had to do a windows reinstall and it wasn't until then that windows defender picked it up(I had it disabled so Avast could take priority).

    Malewarebytes took care of the rest since the trojan wasn't letting me download any new antiviruses(it was selectively blocking downloads that would harm it) and had no choice but to run malewarebytes via a "masked" method to get it to download and get rid of the infection.
    Reply