Is Microsoft Defender worth considering in 2021?

Is Microsoft Defender worth considering in 2021?

Almost every computer user is familiar with the tech giant Microsoft as we all use products build by the tech giant. Microsoft is mostly known as the developer of popular Windows operating system and Office suite. Windows is the most popular operating system in the world and hence most targeted one by the hackers and cyber criminals as well. To make Windows operating secure for users, Microsoft decided to develop its own antivirus technology and embed that into the operating system. Tech giant added some spyware protection capabilities in Windows Vista operating system under the name of Windows Defender.

In era of Windows 7, Microsoft released a full fledged antivirus product under the name Microsoft security Essentials. Security essentials became the most popular free antivirus after a short time of its release. The package was only available to the users of Genuine Windows. The protection capabilities of the security Essentials declined to zero gradually and users started bashing it. With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft integrated the Windows Defender in operating system under an app named Windows Security. Windows defender started to improve gradually in competitive tests and once again gained popularity.

Birth of the Microsoft Defender:

With the improvement in protection capabilities such as basic level of exploit protection, Microsoft decided to make the app available to other platforms. Recently, with the release of Windows 10 version 2004, Microsoft changed its name to Microsoft Defender as it would not be suitable to run Windows Defender on a Mac ;). It will help Microsoft to introduce product portfolio to the users of mac operating system.

Comparison of test results of Microsoft Defender:

Recent tests of Microsoft defender by independent testing labs such as av-comparatives and AV-test shows that the protection capabilities of the program has improved greatly. Although it has improved the protection in comparative scores but the actual usability of the program is still questionable. In real world protection tests by AV-comparatives in February - May 2020, it has blocked 99.7% of the threats. pretty impressive score to look at it. have look in the below figure;

Real world protection test Feb-May 2020

AV test is another organisation testing the consumer security products on different platforms for their protection, performance and, usability capabilities. In test report of Mar-April 2020 for Windows platform, AV-test has given a score of 5.5 out of 6 in protection category to Microsoft defender.

AV test report Mar-April 2020

The numbers in the above mentioned test reports are pretty good but these are only statistical numbers. In real world scenarios Microsoft Defender failed to perform as expected. The only benefit it has is that it is available free of cost and well integrated into the operating system. However, one cannot rely on it for complete peace of mind. As the cyber threat landscape is ever evolving, Microsoft Defender is not equipped with the technologies to cope with advanced threats. Controlled folder access is included with the program but it is only limited to certain user folders. In latest version of Windows it is renamed to Ransomware protection. Despite its name, the protection component does not provide system level ransomware protection. If turned on, it blocks the access to the defined folders even for legitimate programs causing crashes.

In my personal experience Microsoft defender failed to remove detected threats. Its response time is very slow and it will start hammering CPU while dealing with threats. It can be a perfect choice for locked down systems through group policy settings but for average users its not a cup of tea. Potentially unwanted programs are among major tools used by the criminals to hijack operating system. But Microsoft Defender comes with the PUP protection capability turned off by default. To turn PUP protection and other sophisticated protection mechanism on, you will require to use third party configuration tools or group policies. As most of the average users are not familiar with group policy rules, they will not be able to configure it and eventually infest their systems with malware. Below is the honest list of pros and cons of Microsoft defender;


  • Available free of cost.
  • Well integrated into the operating system.
  • Nothing to install.
  • No nag screens.


  • Resource hungry while dealing with actual malware.
  • Confusing alert system.
  • Advanced settings are buried into group policy settings.
  • Dismal protection score against new and previously unknown threats.
  • Very slow disinfection / removal process.
  • Phishing protection is mainly limited to Microsoft browser (Chromium based browsers require a separate extension to be installed).


In latest Windows operating system it is not possible to get rid of it completely. It can be used as a baseline threat defense in today's connected world. however, for comprehensive malware defense and protection against sophisticated fileless malware attacks, it is not recommended. It will not be able to provide enough level of protection against sophisticate attacks. Security is not a luxury, it is necessity. As cyber criminals can clone your digital identities, it is not recommended to rely on Microsoft Defender to protect your privacy and security. Many cyber security solutions are available in the market that out performs Windows Defender in bot security and performance capabilities. Quality comes with the price but we have some amazing deals for you. Find them here

Enjoy a safe and secure 2021 :)