“Keep an eye on storage space, let updates install and always check for viruses.” For years, that was the best advice that you could give anyone that owned a Windows PC. It was always important to purchase some kind of virus protection for your notebook or tablet too. Microsoft started taking security seriously after a pretty rough patch for Windows XP. It wasn’t until Windows 8 and Windows 10 that Microsoft included the ultimate tool for detecting and fixing your devices.
Windows 8 and Windows 10 both include virus protection free of charge. What’s more, you don’t have to manage their updates or download them from a website. They’re baked in, working seamlessly to keep your device as safe as it can possibly be. Microsoft calls its suite of virus tools Windows Defender.
Here’s how to scan for viruses in Windows 10, using Windows Defender, the security program built into every new notebook, tablet, desktop and 2-in-1 with Microsoft’s latest operating system.
Before We Begin
Before we begin, there’s a few things to note. First, Windows Defender is included with Windows 10, but could not be activated on your PC. The company that makes your device has the option to pre-load it with security software made by partners. Typically, these partners are either McAffe or Norton.
If you have another security suite on your Windows 10 device, go to that security suite to check for viruses and make sure that your device is protected. If you deactivate or uninstall these software suits, Windows 10 will prompt you to turn on Windows Defender and keep your device secure. Reviews of Windows Defender are positively, mostly because it stays out-of-the-way and keeps quiet when protecting you. On the other hand, some studies show that other security suits perform better than Windows Defender.
The important thing is that you have some kind of security suite available to you at all times to prevent infections for downloads and more.
Finding Windows Defender & Making Sure It’s On
Press the Windows key on your keyboard or the Windows button on the Taskbar to open the Start Menu. Note that if you’re using your device in Tablet Mode you’ll get the Start Screen instead of the Start Menu.
Tap or click on Settings. It’s in the bottom-left corner of the Start Menu & Start Screen.
Welcome to the Settings app. Now tap or click on Update & Security.
In the Update & Security area you’ll find everything you need to keep your device working and safe. Windows Update makes sure that Windows Defender has the latest virus updates and definitions. It’s the first screen you come to. Updates are installed silently and automatically in Windows 10. As such, manually checking for new virus definitions isn’t something that you need to do before you run a virus scan.
Tap or click on Windows Defender in the menu on the left side of the Settings app. It’s the second menu item.
If these switches are gray, you can bet that Windows Defender is turned off on your device. You’ll need to go and uninstall your other security system if you’d like to use Windows Defender. You can do that from the Control Panel or from the Settings app under System. If all these switches are on, you’re likely getting virus definitions from Microsoft’s servers and Windows is scanning your files in real-time.
While Microsoft has integrated these options into the Settings app, it hasn’t yet added actual scanning to the Settings app. For that you need to go to a separate area. Tap or click on the Open Windows Defender link at the bottom of your display.
Scanning with Windows Defender
Welcome to Windows Defender. Things have changed in Windows a lot, but Windows Defender itself looks the same as it always has. Note that since it’s a separate app, you don’t have to dive into Settings app before accessing Windows Defender. It’s just a lot easier than trying to remember what Microsoft calls the program.
Use the selectors on the right to decide whether you’d like to scan your entire PC or do a Quick Scan to check for any immediate issues. Use the Custom option to scan specific files. Note that Windows 10 scans downloads for you in real-time. You shouldn’t have to use that Custom option often.
Since updates are managed by Windows Update, you don’t need that tab. The History tab lets you keep track of the stuff Windows Defender has found. If Windows Defender finds anything during a scan it’ll give you the option to quarantine or delete that item. If it’s a file you’ve downloaded, always choose delete. If it’s a Windows file, Quarantine it and refresh your PC immediately.
Good luck with Windows 10 and Windows Defender. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it.