Does Windows 10 Need Antivirus? How to Stay Safe (2023)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

Does Windows 10 Need Antivirus

Does Windows 10 Need Antivirus?

Are you wondering, “Does Windows 10 need antivirus protection in 2023?” You’re not alone. With cyber threats evolving every year, it’s crucial to stay informed about the latest antivirus solutions and security measures that can keep your computer safe.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into Windows 10’s built-in antivirus software, Windows Defender, and compare it to third-party antivirus programs to help you make an informed decision. Let’s start by understanding Windows Defender’s basic protection features.


  • Windows 10 comes with a built-in antivirus software, called Windows Defender, which offers malware protection and a firewall.
  • However, it doesn’t offer advanced features like a password manager, virtual private network, dark web monitor, and more.
  • If you want the best protection for your PC, privacy and identity, opt for Norton or Bitdefender, the best antivirus software for Windows.

Don’t become a victim of cybercrime. Protect your devices with the best antivirus software and your privacy with the best VPN service.

Understanding Windows 10’s Built-in Antivirus

Windows 10 comes with a built-in antivirus software called Windows Defender, which provides basic protection against various malware threats. While it offers real-time threat protection and updates to keep your device secure, it’s important to note that Windows Defender may not be enough for comprehensive protection.

So, should you install other antivirus software? Definitely! Adding an extra layer of protection with third-party antivirus programs can enhance your digital security and give you access to the latest features.

Let’s take a closer look at Windows Defender’s features and limitations.

Windows Defender: Basic Protection

Windows Defender, also known as Microsoft Defender Antivirus, is a built-in antivirus software in Windows 10 that offers basic protection against viruses, malware, and other threats. It automatically scans your system for malicious software and provides real-time threat protection, ensuring that your computer stays protected against known cyberattacks.

Windows Defender also comes with a feature called Microsoft Defender Offline Scan for advanced threat removal. However, despite its basic protection capabilities, Windows Defender may not be enough to guard against all types of cyber threats, so let’s explore its real-time scanning and update features.

Real-Time Scanning and Updates

Real-time scanning is a crucial feature that detects and removes malicious software before it can do any harm. Windows Defender continuously monitors your system for suspicious activity and automatically scans files, applications, and software as they’re accessed. But is this enough? Unfortunately, relying solely on Windows Defender’s real-time protection may not be sufficient for comprehensive digital security.

Investing in extra antivirus software, either by choosing to install antivirus software with a free antivirus tool or opting for a paid solution, can give you added virus threat protection and advanced features like threat detection and removal.

Now that we know the benefits of extra antivirus software, let’s discuss the limitations of Windows Defender.

The Limitations of Windows Defender

While Windows Defender offers basic protection against malicious software, it has some limitations that make it necessary to invest in a separate antivirus program for complete digital security.

A study conducted by AV Comparatives showed that Windows Defender performed well in general. However, there were a few areas where it lacked.

For example, Windows Defender lacks some of the additional features that you get with paid security software and can be slow or give false positives. Let’s dive deeper into these limitations.

Performance Concerns

Windows Defender can cause high CPU usage and other performance issues due to its real-time protection service. It can also slow down your device if it’s dealing with problematic files. Disabling certain features might help reduce its impact on performance, but this can compromise your system’s security.

This is another reason to consider using a third-party antivirus program that provides better performance without sacrificing protection.

False Positives and Detection Rates

False positives occur when an antivirus flags a file or process as malicious, even though it’s not a threat. Windows Defender has been known to have issues with false positives, but according to AV Test, it rarely gets them wrong.

However, when it does, it’s crucial to dismiss Windows Defender’s warnings if you’re sure the source is trustworthy. This highlights the importance of using a reliable third-party antivirus program that provides accurate detection rates and fewer false positives.

Comparing Windows Defender to Third-Party Antivirus Software

Now that we’ve explored Windows Defender’s features and limitations, let’s compare it to third-party antivirus programs. These programs often provide additional features like endpoint protection and response, making them more effective against advanced threats.

In fact, third-party antivirus programs are generally more effective than Windows Defender. So, what additional features do third-party antivirus programs offer, and how do they fare against advanced threats?

Additional Features Offered by Third-Party Antivirus Programs

Third-party antivirus programs provide a range of features that go beyond Windows Defender’s capabilities, such as password protection, identity theft protection, ransomware protection, web browsing protection, and virtual private networks.

Effectiveness Against Advanced Threats

Third-party antivirus programs are more effective against advanced threats than Windows Defender. While no antivirus solution is foolproof, third-party programs offer a more comprehensive approach to protecting your device from cyber threats. By combining features like real-time protection and response with the latest security updates, third-party antivirus software can better safeguard your system against current and emerging threats.

Choosing the Right Antivirus Solution for Your Windows 10 PC

Now that we know the advantages of third-party antivirus programs over Windows Defender, it’s time to choose the right antivirus solution for your Windows 10 PC. Free antivirus software might seem appealing, but it often comes with limitations and may only work for one device.

A paid subscription might be necessary to protect all your devices and benefit from advanced features. Let’s explore the difference between free and paid antivirus options and the factors to consider when selecting antivirus software.

Free vs. Paid Antivirus Options

Free antivirus options usually have fewer features and may not be as secure as paid options. On the other hand, paid antivirus options usually come with more advanced features, better protection, and additional benefits like identity protection and technical support.

While free antivirus software might be suitable for basic protection, it’s important to consider the limitations and weigh the advantages of investing in a paid antivirus solution.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Antivirus Software

When selecting antivirus software, consider factors such as compatibility across multiple operating systems, protection against a variety of online threats, ease of use, and real-time and scheduled scanning using a task scheduler library.

Some of the most well-known Windows antivirus software programs include Norton and Bitdefender. By taking these factors into account, you can choose the antivirus software that best meets your security needs and budget.

The best antivirus for Windows 10

Based on our comparison of Windows Defender and third-party antivirus software, Norton and Bitdefender emerge as the top antivirus solutions for Windows 10. Both programs offer a comprehensive set of features and advanced protection against the latest threats.

Let’s take a closer look at these two antivirus solutions and their respective benefits.


Norton is a security suite owned by Gen Digital, known for its extensive features and strong protection against various cyber threats. It offers malware detection, real-time protection, VPN, identity theft protection, password manager, cloud backup, and more, protecting up to 10 devices.


Bitdefender is another leading cybersecurity company offering antivirus and internet security solutions for both home and business users. It provides an extensive range of protection, including multi-layered digital identity protection, monitoring data breaches and dark web forums, scanning social media for impersonators, effective ransomware protection, banking protection, a password manager, and a VPN.

Enhancing Windows 10 Security

Beyond antivirus software, there are other measures you can take to enhance your Windows 10 security, such as implementing windows security features. Regularly updating your system, safe browsing and downloading practices, and using additional security tools can help ensure your device stays protected from various threats.

Regularly Updating Your System

Keeping your system updated is crucial for maintaining its security and staying current with the latest security patches and bug fixes. By enabling automatic updates in your Windows Update Settings, you can ensure that your device receives the latest security improvements to protect against potential vulnerabilities.

Safe Browsing and Download Practices

Practicing safe browsing and downloading habits can further protect Windows users’ Windows 10 systems from malicious websites and downloads. Make sure to only visit legitimate and trusted websites, avoid questionable websites, download software only from trusted sources, and be cautious when sending and receiving emails.

By keeping your operating system and antivirus software up to date and following safe browsing practices, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to cyber threats.


In conclusion, while Windows 10’s built-in antivirus, Windows Defender, provides basic protection against various threats, it has some limitations that make it necessary to invest in third-party antivirus software for comprehensive digital security.

Norton and Bitdefender stand out as top antivirus solutions for Windows 10, offering advanced protection and a wide range of features. By combining antivirus software with regular system updates and safe browsing habits, you can effectively safeguard your Windows 10 device from the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.

So, does Windows 10 need antivirus protection in 2023? Absolutely. Stay vigilant, invest in a reliable antivirus solution, and maintain safe online practices to ensure your digital security in the years to come.

How to stay safe online:

  • Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
  • Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
  • Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.

Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

Is antivirus required for Windows 10?

Yes, antivirus is required for Windows 10. Although Microsoft Defender Antivirus does provide some basic protection, it’s not enough to keep your device completely secure from the latest threats. Therefore, it’s essential to invest in an advanced antivirus product to ensure total security.

What antivirus is recommended for Windows 10?

For Windows 10, Norton is recommended for the best all-around security protection. It’s one of the most trusted names for Windows security and has consistently ranked high by multiple independent testing labs.

Is windows defender an antivirus?

Yes, Windows Defender is an antivirus. Microsoft Defender Antivirus is a next-generation protection solution built into Windows 11 and comes with real-time, always-on virus protection. It scans files, remediates threats, and lists detected threats in security reports and the Windows Security app.

What additional features do third-party antivirus programs offer?

Third-party antivirus programs go beyond basic protection by providing extra features such as a VPN, password manager, dark web monitor, identity theft protection, and more.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor has tested 39 antivirus programs and 30 VPN services, and holds a Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate from Stanford University.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.