Antivirus software has been a main staple of PCs and Windows-based computers for decades. With the release of Windows 10, everyone has this question - do I need antivirus for Windows 10?
We examine the answers to that question here.
A computer virus is a disease. Just like a virus in the human body, it is a piece of code injected into a computer system. The idea is to replicate itself, cause damage, delete data, corrupt file systems, and cause mayhem.
Virus attacks aren’t new, and the idea is to infect as many computers as possible. The number one target for viruses has always been the Windows operating system. Many people think it is because it is less secure than Apple Mac or Linux systems.
However, the basic truth is that Windows runs on more computers worldwide than any other system. A virus attacking a Linux system will only get a small percentage of users, whereas a Windows attack could potentially get billions.
Antivirus software was invented to find, isolate, remove and prevent virus attacks. With the advent of Windows 10, though, does the most popular operating system need antivirus software anymore?
In this article we will examine the Windows 10 operating system, antivirus options and answer the question: Do I need an antivirus for Windows 10?
What Is Antivirus Software?
Antivirus software is software the protects your PC from the various types of viruses. Worms, trojan horses and other types of viruses are designed to harvest personal information, retrieve data or corrupt system files.
This information and data can be anything from your name and address to credit card numbers, email addresses or even physical addresses.
If you think about how much of our lives have gone digital in the last few years, you may be surprised. We place orders for goods and services on our computers. We store photos, phone numbers and other personal identifying information on our hard drives, cloud servers, and websites.
When you order a pizza, you input your name, address, phone number and a credit card number online, through your computer. We sign up for information and provide an email address, create passwords and answer security questions to feel safe.
Viruses are designed to hide in our system files, grow larger, expand and spread to other computers or systems.
Where they can gather this stored information, imitate input fields and pass along the entered details to scrupulous peoples.
Some are created to be annoyances, a sort of game or “just for fun” from the virus creator. Perhaps they take over our internet browsers and direct us to different websites. Maybe they make our mouse cursor disappear or move in random patterns.
Regardless of the outcome, either nefarious or for sport, a virus attack makes us feel vulnerable, threatened and scared. Antivirus software does just what its name implies; it battles against viruses.
The software, before Windows 10, was installed from a third party vendor such as Norton, Avast, Comodo or hundreds of others.
The installed software would then run on our computers providing real-time protection against new infestations and scan files, and new program installations for the tale tell signs of a virus.
Some antivirus software can remove the threats themselves, others simply quarantine the infection so that it cannot grow, spread or function until we get in and remove it ourselves.
What Is Windows Defender?
If you have purchased a new computer since 2011, you have seen Windows Defender. Defender started rolling out with Windows Vista edition as an added layer of security to protect file systems.
Over time it grew to be a robust and dependable antivirus program of its own. Since Windows 10 was released, Windows Defender was installed as proprietary software that ran, by default, as the operating systems antivirus software.
Before Windows 10, Defender was a secondary antivirus, a sort of back up until a real antivirus program could be purchased and installed.
As the algorithms and abilities of the program grew, though, it became quite a strong antivirus software application in its own right.
Just like Internet Explorer was, (and Microsoft Edge now is), Windows Defender is embedded deep in the Windows framework and is dependent on system files that cannot be removed, altered or deleted.
This means that you cannot entirely remove Windows Defender from your computer without damaging your entire system and make it non-functional.
You can, however, disable the program. You can shut it off so that it does nothing, like that version of Candy Crush on your phone you haven’t opened in three years but for some reason won’t delete.
Is An Antivirus A Firewall?
Antivirus and Firewalls are two different types of data protection software and are run together but not the same.
A quick summary would be that a computer can only run one firewall at a time but can run several versions of an antivirus program together.This is designed to be allowed because no antivirus software can catch 100% of the virus threats out there. Though it is only recommended that you use two antivirus programs together, it is possible to run as many as you wish.
The more you run, though, the worse off your system is. Too many will take up your computer’s resources and slow everything you do way down.
It is recommended to use an active antivirus program along with a passive one. For example, Windows Defender will offer real-time protection and scanning that runs in the background, protecting your data, transmissions, and storage. While Malware Bytes (free) will run only when you open it.
Windows 10, though, is designed to be self-protected, updated, and run on its own. It also runs without the need for secondary antivirus protection. You might still be asking, “do I need antivirus for Windows 10?”
The Short Answer
In short, the answer is no. You don't need to run antivirus software, from third parties, on any installation of Windows 10. In fact, unlike previous versions of Windows, you won’t get annoying alerts telling you that your antivirus protection is missing, out of date or disabled.
However, this is because there is already antivirus software installed and running: Windows Defender.
As long as you keep your system up to date, which is now automated and on by default in Windows 10. Then your installation of Windows Defender is also up to date and protecting your data.
The Long Answer
If you want a true answer to the question “do I need antivirus software for Windows 10,” though, the answer is yes. Because Windows Defender is installed, enabled and running, you don’t have the direct need for another antivirus software.
However, you do have it, and therefore it is needed. If you disable Windows Defender or manage to uninstall it without damaging the system files. Then you will need another form of antivirus protection.
As we stated earlier, it is recommended that you use more than one antivirus software on your computer. Windows Defender is one. It is up to you to pick and install the second one. The other one can be a passive program. Or it can be a protection suite, complete with malware protection, data protection, firewall and other programs.
In the end, though, you should have, at a bare minimum, Windows Defender enabled and running.
If you are looking for options, you have plenty.
There are literally dozens of popular antivirus programs out there to choose from, including:
The list is exhaustive and deserving of an article all it’s own, but you get the idea.
You have your choice of prices, from free to annual or monthly subscriptions. Each one has its pros and cons, and each one will protect your computer and its data against a wide variety of threats.
In Conclusion: Do I Need Antivirus For Windows 10?
Do I need antivirus for Windows 10? Yes.
Luckily, though, it is provided for you by Windows. Windows Defender comes preinstalled as proprietary software that runs well in the background to protect your data.
While no antivirus program is 100 percent secure, most will do a decent job of protection by themselves.
Pairing an active antivirus program with a passive one is one of the best options as it will allow you to save computer resources, memory, and disk space while offering you added protection against new and developing threats.
Running weekly scans of your computer's file systems and having live protection against threats from email and Internet-based attacks is sufficient.
When you install a new program, download the latest cat video, or plug in a thumb drive from a friend, it is recommended to double check the contents of the antivirus databases.
Do you need antivirus software with Windows 10? No. You already have it. Do you need more antivirus protection? A secondary backup plan never hurts.
Featured image credit: CC0 Creative Commons, rifkiedr via pixabay.com.