Does Windows 11 Need Antivirus? How to Stay Safe (2023)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

Does Windows 11 Need Antivirus

Does Windows 11 Need Antivirus?

Is your shiny new Windows 11 device protected from the ever-evolving world of cyber threats? After all, safeguarding your system and sensitive data is of paramount importance in today’s digital landscape.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the built-in security features of Windows 11, discuss the pros and cons of third-party antivirus software, and guide you through choosing the right antivirus solution for your needs, while answering the question: does Windows 11 need antivirus?


  • Windows 11 comes with a built-in antivirus software, called Microsoft 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.

Windows 11’s Built-in Security Features

Windows 11 comes with a suite of built-in windows security features designed to keep your data safe from malware and other cyber threats.

These features, such as Microsoft Defender Antivirus, Windows Firewall and Network Protection, and TPM 2.0/Secure Boot, provide a solid foundation to protect your system.

However, the threats are constantly evolving, which means it’s crucial to have antivirus software that can adapt and protect against new and emerging cyber threats. 

So how effective are these built-in features, and can they really replace third-party antivirus solutions? Let’s dive deeper into these built-in features and examine their capabilities.

Microsoft Defender Antivirus

Formerly known as Windows Defender, Microsoft Defender Antivirus is a built-in security feature in Windows 11 that offers real-time antivirus protection, even when browsing with Microsoft Edge. It includes parental controls and a basic health check to ensure your system stays protected.

But how effective is Microsoft Defender Antivirus in keeping your device secure? AV-TEST, an independent testing organization, gave Microsoft Defender Antivirus a thumbs up, ranking it among the top-performing antivirus software available. However, its malware detection rates may not be as high as other well-known antivirus providers, like Norton.

So while Microsoft Defender Antivirus provides decent basic protection for Windows devices, including Windows 11, using a third-party antivirus program can offer additional protection against malicious threats.

Windows Firewall and Network Protection

Windows Firewall and Network Protection is another built-in security feature in Windows 11. It is essentially a two-way firewall. Which means that it protects your PC by blocking incoming connections from the internet and by monitoring outbound connections. This ensures that only authorized traffic is allowed.

This digital wall acts as a barrier to protect your computer from hackers or malicious software that attempt to gain access to your PC. So Windows Firewall and Network Protection provide an essential layer of security to safeguard your Windows 11 device from potential cyber threats.

TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot

Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 and Secure Boot are additional security features that enhance the protection of your Windows 11 system during the boot process.

TPM 2.0 is a hardware-based security feature that stores cryptographic functions on a chip located on the system’s motherboard. Secure Boot is in place to verify the legitimacy of BIOS drivers and the operating system. It only allows control over the OS when validation has been successful.

These two features work together to ensure that malware cannot compromise your Windows 11 system while it’s booting up. By incorporating TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot into the security framework of Windows 11, Microsoft has created a more secure version of the operating system that effectively defends against cyber threats, even without the use of third-party antivirus software.

The Need for Third-Party Antivirus Software

While Windows 11’s built-in security features offer a strong foundation for protecting your device, there may still be situations where you’d benefit from additional antivirus software for Windows 11.

Third-party antivirus solutions can provide extra security features, more comprehensive protection, and advanced threat detection capabilities that may not be available with Windows 11’s built-in security tools.

However, using third-party antivirus software isn’t without its downsides, such as potential system slowdown due to resource consumption and the associated costs of the software.

So, is it worth investing in third-party antivirus software for your Windows 11 device? Let’s weigh the advantages and potential drawbacks of using these third-party solutions.

Advantages of Third-Party Antivirus Solutions

One of the primary benefits of using a third-party antivirus solution is the comprehensive real-time protection it provides against malware, adware, spyware, rootkits, keyloggers, ransomware, and other cyber threats.

On top of that, the antivirus solutions often come with advanced features like password managers, virtual private networks (VPNs), parental controls, web protection, device optimizer, dark web monitor, and identity theft protection, depending on the software you choose.

These extra features can significantly enhance the security of your Windows 11 device, making it well worth considering a third-party antivirus solution.

Moreover, using antivirus software in conjunction with a VPN can help you stay anonymous online, further safeguarding your sensitive data with the added layer of security software.

Potential Drawbacks of Third-Party Antivirus Solutions

Despite the benefits of using third-party antivirus solutions, there are potential downsides to consider. One major concern is the impact on your system’s performance. Third-party antivirus software can consume system resources to scan files and apps, potentially slowing down your computer.

In some cases, these antivirus may also mistakenly flag legitimate programs or applications as malicious, causing issues with their functionality. So it’s important to be careful in the selection of an antivirus solution.

Luckily, the impact on performance and the prevalence of false positives has been studied in-depth by AV-Test, an independent antivirus test lab. Norton was able to beat the built-in Microsoft Defender in both accounts.

Another drawback is the cost associated with third-party antivirus solutions. While some providers offer a free version or a 30-day money-back guarantee, premium features and comprehensive protection often come at a price.

It’s essential to carefully weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether a third-party antivirus solution is the right choice for your Windows 11 device.

Top Antivirus Options for Windows 11 Users

After thorough research and analysis, we’ve identified the best antivirus software for Windows 11 users: Norton, Bitdefender, and McAfee. These antivirus options offer comprehensive protection, advanced features, and an excellent balance between system performance and security.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these and what they have to offer.


Norton 360 is a highly regarded antivirus software that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to detect online threats and protect your device from malware, spyware, ransomware, and unwanted applications.

Norton 360 offers a range of valuable features, including Norton Safe Web, Isolation Mode, Dark Web monitoring, cloud backups, and a built-in Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Furthermore, Norton 360 includes a two-way firewall that monitors both incoming and outgoing network traffic, ensuring comprehensive protection.

While Norton 360 may come at a higher price point compared to some other antivirus solutions, its features, efficiency, and top-notch protection make it a worthy investment for Windows 11 users.


Bitdefender Antivirus is another top pick for Windows 11 users, known for its outstanding malware detection rates, reliable real-time protection, and a variety of security features. Starting at just $19.99/month, Bitdefender offers comprehensive protection at an affordable price.

Bitdefender’s premium plans provide a plethora of advanced features, including a full parental control package, identity protection, VPN, full system cleaning and optimization, and even remote system support. With its excellent features and affordable pricing, Bitdefender is a solid choice for any Windows 11 user seeking comprehensive protection.


McAfee is a well-known digital-security tool that offers antivirus protection for personal computers, server devices, and mobile devices. In addition to its antivirus capabilities, McAfee provides identity theft protection and a VPN for online privacy, ensuring a well-rounded security solution for Windows 11 users.

McAfee’s comprehensive protection against viruses, malware, and other online threats, coupled with its identity theft protection and VPN features, make it a top choice for Windows 11 users in search of a robust antivirus solution. When it comes to keeping your Windows 11 device secure, McAfee stands shoulder to shoulder with other top antivirus solutions in terms of features and performance.

Tips for Choosing Antivirus Software for Windows 11

Choosing the right antivirus software for Windows 11 is an important decision. Do your research to get the best fit for your device. It’s essential to consider your security needs, compare the features and performance of different antivirus solutions, and evaluate budget and pricing options before making a decision.

By taking these factors into account, you can find the antivirus software that best suits your requirements and offers the protection you need.

Keep reading for some practical tips to help you navigate the process of selecting the perfect antivirus software for Windows 11, ensuring that your device remains protected from the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.

Assessing Your Security Needs

When assessing your security needs, it’s important to consider the potential threats you may face, such as malicious software, unauthorized access, data breaches, and other cyber threats.

Think about the value of the assets you need to protect, like confidential data, financial information, and other sensitive information. Consider your organization’s risk appetite and the potential impact of a security breach when determining the level of protection you need.

Once you’ve assessed your security needs, you can begin to explore the various security controls available, such as authentication, encryption, access control, and other security measures. By understanding your security requirements, you can more effectively choose an antivirus solution that provides the necessary protection for your Windows 11 device.

Comparing Features and Performance

To compare the features and performance of different antivirus software, consider aspects such as speed, efficiency, functionality, and ease of use. Benchmarking, or comparing products and services against industry leaders to improve quality and performance, can also help you determine which antivirus solution is best suited for your needs.

Look for antivirus solutions that offer comprehensive protection, a high malware detection rate, low system load, user-friendliness, and regular automatic updates. By comparing these factors, you can better understand how different antivirus solutions stack up against each other and make an informed decision on the right antivirus software for your Windows 11 device.


In conclusion, Windows 11 offers a range of built-in security features to protect your device from malware and other cyber threats. While these features provide a solid foundation for security, third-party antivirus solutions can offer additional protection and advanced features that may not be available with Windows 11’s built-in tools.

Norton, Bitdefender, and McAfee are among the top antivirus options for Windows 11 users, each offering comprehensive protection and a variety of features to suit your needs.

Remember to assess your security needs, compare features and performance, and consider budget and pricing options when choosing the right antivirus software for your Windows 11 device. By taking these factors into account, you can find the perfect antivirus solution to keep your device and data safe in an ever-changing digital world.

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 Windows Defender good enough for Windows 11?

Overall, Windows Defender is a great starting point for security on your Windows 11 computer, but you should supplement it with additional antivirus software to ensure the best protection from online threats.

Is Windows 11 vulnerable to viruses?

Unfortunately, Windows 11 is still vulnerable to viruses. You should stay alert and employ effective security measures to safeguard your data and device from malicious attacks.

What are the built-in security features of Windows 11?

Windows 11 provides comprehensive security with Microsoft Defender Antivirus, Windows Firewall and Network Protection, and TPM 2.0/Secure Boot to keep your device safe.

What are the advantages of using third-party antivirus solutions?

Third-party antivirus solutions offer more comprehensive protection than traditional antivirus tools, as they utilize cutting-edge technologies, advanced threat detection systems, and frequent updates to keep your device safe from the latest cyber threats.

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.