Windows Defender is the free antivirus software built into Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system. Offering a fair amount of protection and security from malware and viruses in real time, it’s trusted by millions to protect their devices from harm.
But does this mean that Windows Defender from Microsoft alone provides enough local and Internet security to keep you safe from all possible threats? If not, is Avast Antivirus a good third-party antivirus software suite for protecting a Windows 10 computer? Check out how it fares against others in our best antivirus for Windows 10 review, or my Avast review for more answers.
Our recommendation: McAfee
Before we move on to talking about today's review topic, you should know that there is a program that continues to spearhead the cybersecurity industry, and that antivirus is McAfee. McAfee has orchestrated the cybersecurity industry as its features on their programs is what is considered the “standard” of being a sufficient antivirus program. Check out their security programs here!
The Growing Threat Posed by Malware, Ransomware and Viruses
A recent study into computer security and protection found that in the average year, more than 10 billion malware attacks take place. Ransomware attacks are also increasing by more than 100% each year, while mobile devices are facing twice the risk of being infected with malware than they were just one year ago.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the biggest threats to internet security and the programs on your computer would come from potentially unwanted files you didn’t even realize you had. In reality, hackers continue to exploit some of the most widely used software on the planet to plant viruses and mount attacks.
Microsoft Office – used by countless people worldwide – is the single most common piece of software used by hackers to illegally access emails.
In any case, what’s clear is that what was considered robust security and protection just a short time ago is no longer enough. If you want to keep up with the latest threats, you need to protect your computer and your devices with the best antivirus product available for your operating system.
Windows Defender provides a certain level of coverage, but can and should be bolstered with third-party antivirus like Avast. If you need more cross-references, check out how it performs compared to Malwarebytes here, while this post stacks it against Comodo. This article explains how it fares against Windows Defender and last but not least, you can read about Avira and Avast in this detailed review.
The Benefits of Avast Over Using Windows Defender Alone
At this point, it’s worth highlighting the fact that free antivirus software in all instances is never as robust or effective as premium paid anti-virus. Avast Free Antivirus provides more protection than no virus coverage at all, but simply isn’t enough to provide the protection you want or need.
Is Avast Good for Windows?
It’s therefore highly recommended to step up to one of the best antivirus programs available from Avast, of which there are several to choose from. Each of which bolstering Internet security and a localized protection from malware, phishing, ransomware, potentially unwanted programs and so on.
Moving on to the specifics, let’s take a look at what each product brings to the table by way of features, user-friendliness, protection and so on.
First up, Windows Defender is baked into every computer worldwide currently running Windows 10, along with most other versions of Windows. It’s automatically installed and activated – it also cannot be removed from your computer. Though what’s interesting is how once you install a third-party antivirus product, Windows Defender shuts down and no longer protects your computer.
Which is strange, as it would be far better for the two to run in unison.
The Windows Defender firewall is by far its most useful and impressive feature. It keeps a close eye on what’s happening (inbound and outbound) in real time, helping protect users and safeguard their privacy while going about their business.
There’s also a useful scanner that watches for malware, viruses, potentially unwanted programs and attempts to hack into your computer. There’s also the supremely useful Find My Device function, which is fantastic for tracking your computer or mobile device if they’re lost or stolen.
Parental controls and web time monitoring features also boost the appeal of Windows Defender, particularly for parents with young kids about the place.
Meanwhile, Avast takes things to extremes with a really long list of features and functionalities. The actual set of features you get depends on which Avast package you choose – Avast Internet Security, Avast Premiere, Avast Ultimate or Avast Free Antivirus. Assuming you pick up the top-shelf package, System Security and protection really are just about as good as it gets.
Features included extend to a seriously capable firewall, comprehensive-malware protection, a Real Site feature that prevents fake DNS routing, a premium file shredder for getting rid of sensitive files and a feature that stops hackers activating your webcam.
There’s also a useful password manager, an outstanding VPN with locations all over the world and a great PC optimization tool that helps to speed up your system’s performance in general.
Across the board, therefore, there’s really nothing between the two. You get so much more with Avast and even if you don’t run every feature it provides, it’s still way more comprehensive than Windows Defender is ever likely to be.
2. Malware Protection
For this part of the comparison, we’ll be using the most recent data provided by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives – two of the most respected independent labs where malware and virus protection are concerned.
Surprisingly – and entirely in a positive way – Windows Defender completely aced the Protection test carried out by AV-Test, coming out with a perfect score of 6. thus confirming that it really does offer excellent anti malware protection. By comparison, Avast came out with 5.5 out of 6, though the difference was so marginal as to not be of any real relevance.
Over with AV-Comparatives, both antivirus suites came out with the same ADVANCED award, having demonstrated an equal capacity to protect computers from known malware and potential future threats.
In this case therefore, it’s a tie – both Avast and Windows Defender are equally capable of providing a decent amount of protection from malware. Which is a good thing, given that this is the main reason you install antivirus software in the first place.
3. System Performance
Antivirus products that put a major strain on your system’s resources and slow things down to a crawl are not worth bothering with. Precisely why independent tests are also carried out on overall performance, alongside protection from viruses.
AV-Test’s most recent evaluation of Windows Defender resulted in a score of 5.5 out of 6, having deemed it to place minimal strain on system resources. However, Avast came out with a perfect score of six, putting almost no strain on system resources whatsoever.
Again, the difference was fairly negligible and not really enough to distinguish between the two. Nevertheless, anyone running an older Windows computer or a machine with particularly low specs would probably want to go with Avast, just to be safe.
This is a big deal with antivirus software, given how some programs can be painfully difficult to install, run and use. Though given the fact that Windows Defender is automatically installed when you install Windows 10, we’ll skip the installation aspect in this instance.
Nevertheless, find yourself faced with the Windows Defender dashboard and it’s in no way intimidating or difficult to get your head around. You can run different types of scans at the touch of a button, see what’s currently posing a threat to your system and so on.
However, there’s no option for scheduling scans for specific times, which is a major disadvantage and is hard to explain.
With the sheer scope of the features and functionalities Avast offers, you’d expect a seriously complex and foreboding dashboard. In reality, it’s exceptionally intuitive and simple to work with – even if you have no experience with any prior antivirus program.
Running scans, scheduling scans and making use of all its various Privacy, Protection and Performance features really is an absolute breeze. There’s also plenty of scope for customization, along with access to helpful reports and advanced diagnostics for more experienced users.
Last up, it’s best not to read too much into price as Microsoft Windows Defender is free of charge. It’s part of the package when you install and use Windows, so you can’t realistically compare it to a paid antivirus suite.
In any case, the paid Avast products start from as little as $59.99 per year for one PC – often with major discounts available for the first year. Avast Premium Security (Multi-Device) subscriptions are particularly impressive, covering a multitude of devices for just $89.99 each year all-in. Considering the fact that this covers a full 10 devices (including most mobile devices), it’s an exceptionally low price for such robust protection.
So while it’s true to say that Windows Defender is technically the cheapest of the two, you cannot put a price on the superior protection afforded by Avast.
Our recommendation: McAfee
Although the program we mentioned in this article is a decent option, McAfee is the antivirus program that you should really be looking at. With a secure database of 49 billion threat queries, the program’s extensive knowledge is capable of detecting and deleting any sort of threat that may come to your device. In addition to the protection, there is a 24/7 support tech line to help with all your needs. To check out these options, click here!
To be frank, comparing any free antivirus suite to a paid program is borderline nonsensical. There isn’t a free antivirus software suite on the market worldwide that delivers close to the same protection as a top-shelf paid solution. Avast Free Antivirus being no exception to the rule, either.
It’s not to take anything away from Microsoft Windows Defender, which in tests has proven more effective than most would have expected. It’s just that if you want to protect yourself from as many threats as possible, you need to think about upgrading to a paid package.