Is Microsoft Defender Enough to Stay Protected in 2023?

Osama Zahid
Last Updated by Osama Zahid on September 25, 2023

Microsoft Defender (formerly Windows Defender) is a good option for 100% free base-level protection and has improved a lot over the years. However, I wanted to see how good it is compared to the current top premium antivirus solutions.

I put Microsoft Defender to the test, examining malware detection, scans, internet security, system impact, and more. I found that Microsoft Defender isn’t good enough to protect your PC by itself. You need additional antivirus software to secure your device.

Ultimately, Norton outperforms every other antivirus service I tested, including Microsoft Defender. Its powerful antivirus engine and fast scans keep your PC protected from the latest threats, and it includes extra features that Microsoft Defender doesn’t offer. Better still, you can try Norton risk-free for 60 days with its money-back guarantee.

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Quick Guide: Top Alternatives to Microsoft Defender in 2023

  1. Norton — #1 antivirus software for Windows — powerful malware protection, firewall, VPN, and Windows-specific features. Try Norton risk-free for 60 days.
  2. TotalAV — Excellent malware protection for Windows PC, laptops, and tablets, but prices jump considerably after the first year.
  3. McAfee — Advanced malware protection and online security for Windows, but its scans are long.
  4. Intego — Provides useful optimization features but doesn’t have a firewall in its Windows app.
  5. Bitdefender — Blocks all types of complex malware targeting Windows, but premium packages are slightly pricey.

Don’t miss out on even more great alternatives to Microsoft Defender — jump down here to find out about 4 more top choices!

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About Microsoft Defender

In its most recent updates, Microsoft Defender has shown significant improvements in device security and functionality. It has several key features that top-tier antivirus software use, including real-time malware protection, a firewall, parental control options, and performance reports. Microsoft Defender also secures your device when browsing the web, blocking phishing sites and malicious downloads.

As a free service, Microsoft Defender does a reasonably good job of keeping your Windows devices secure. In tests, it scored a 98% detection result for real-time malware — an excellent result for a completely free service. I like that the software is pre-installed on all Windows 10 and 11 devices, ensuring my PC is protected from the moment I boot my computer for the first time.

I was pleased to find Microsoft Defender’s phishing protection works flawlessly on Chrome and Edge browsers. It has a solid set of parental control options, but these only work with Edge and require your child to have a Microsoft account — easy to get around for tech-savvy kids.

Given these features, Microsoft Defender is an okay choice for a free antivirus service. It will secure your PC from most malware and phishing threats, but there’s always a chance something will slip through. If you’re using your PC for work or storing personal items (photos, financial details, and more), you should ensure you have a standalone antivirus service providing comprehensive coverage.

Can You Rely on Microsoft Defender Alone in 2023?

Unfortunately, no — Microsoft Defender isn’t enough to protect your PC by itself. My team and I rigorously tested Microsoft Defender over several weeks, checking real-time malware detection rates, ease of use, system impact, and more. While the results were fairly positive, Windows Security still falls short in key areas that could expose your Windows devices to significant threats.

In terms of malware protection, Microsoft Defender is less capable of stopping the latest threats — a 98% detection rate, which falls short compared to Norton’s 100% detection rate. Microsoft Defender’s lack of regular updates means it can’t always handle the latest threats, which puts your devices at risk. Microsoft Defender also doesn’t provide ransomware protection, which is a significant issue as ransomware attacks are on the rise. This alone is a good reason to opt for a premium antivirus solution.

Microsoft Defender also lacks the extra features offered by a premium antivirus. A service like Norton has advanced security and privacy features, like a password manager, VPN, cloud storage, cross-platform support, and more. While Microsoft Defender includes a firewall and parental controls, it lacks advanced features that a premium solution like Norton includes by default.

Screenshot of Microsoft Defender's main menu

Microsoft Defender isn’t the most feature-rich antivirus but it has a sleek interface

While it’s improving, Microsoft Defender is not even close to the level of premium antivirus software. Services like Norton, McAfee, and TotalAV are dedicated to protecting your devices from malware — and not just your Windows PC. Microsoft Defender is better than no protection at all, but it should be thought of more as a temporary protection while you get a comprehensive antivirus suite rather than as a permanent solution.

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How To Scan Your PC for Malware with Microsoft Defender

  1. Open the Windows Security menu. You can find it inside the Windows Security app on your PC.
    Screenshot of the Windows Security main menu
  2. Navigate to Virus & threat protection. Click on the Virus & threat protection tile to access the virus scans menu.
    Screenshot showing how to open Microsoft Defender's Virus & threat protection menu
  3. Open the Scan options menu. Click on Scan options to see the different types of virus scans that Microsoft defender offers.
    Screenshot showing how to access Microsoft Defender's scan options
  4. Select the scan type. You can do that by checking the button next to the scan you want to do.
    Screenshot of Microsoft Defender's various available scan types
  5. Start the scan. Click on Scan now to start the scan, and Microsoft Defender will take care of the rest for you.
    Screenshot showing how to start a scan with Microsoft Defender

That’s all you have to do! Different types of scans take more or less time according to the number of files it has to scan, as well as the speed of your system. After the scan, Microsoft Defender will let you quarantine or remove detected threats from your system.

The Best Antivirus Alternatives to Microsoft Defender (Tested 2023)

1. Norton — #1 Antivirus Software Suite for Windows 10 & 11

Key Features:

  • Blocks 100% of malware targeting Windows in real-time.
  • Comes with extra features like a VPN, parental controls, password manager, and more.
  • Works with all versions of Windows.
  • Offers 24/7 customer support available by live chat or by phone.
  • Backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Norton is the top antivirus service in 2023 and superior to Microsoft Defender in every way. It successfully detects all types of PC-specific malware and comes with various extra features to improve overall Windows security. Best of all, Norton has a range of Windows antivirus packages to suit every budget.

In tests, Norton successfully detected and quarantined 100% of malware threats. Norton updates its software constantly, so your PC is always protected from the latest cyber threats. Also, Norton features a Safe Web browser extension that scans websites for malware and phishing scams. During my tests, Safe Web detected almost 99% of web-based threats, while Microsoft’s own browser, Edge, failed to block most of the test sites I tried to access.

Screenshot of Norton 360's Safe Web feature blocking access to a suspicious website.
Norton adds an extra layer of security to your browser

Norton provides a variety of extra features that add additional layers of protection, like the following:

  • Customizable firewall — A reliable first line of defense that you can customize per your preferences to safeguard your PC against online threats.
  • Secure cloud storage — Safe online storage where you can store sensitive files and data.
  • PC SafeCam — Blocks unauthorized access to your PC’s webcam so that malicious third parties can’t access it.
  • Password manager — Lets you store and safely use your login credentials and other sensitive information.
  • Built-in VPN — Encrypts your connection to keep you secure and anonymous as you browse the web.

I thought such a comprehensive security and privacy suite would cause a significant slowdown for my Windows PC, but Norton runs quietly in the background. I didn’t even notice an impact when running a full system scan.

I was especially impressed by Norton’s VPN and Password Manager features. With the VPN, I could stream on Netflix in HD quality, even though my speeds were a little slower than usual.

Screenshot of Norton Secure VPN connected to a US server and streaming on Netflix US.
Norton’s VPN provides reliable access to Netflix US

Norton’s Password Manager has a unique Autochange Password feature that chooses a stronger password for you, changes it, and stores it to improve your security. Microsoft Defender doesn’t include any kind of VPN, proxy, or password management feature.

While Norton isn’t free, it has a range of plans that are suitable for all budgets. You can get a yearly subscription for as low as $19.99. However, the best value package is the Deluxe plan, which covers 5 devices, has 50GB of cloud storage, and parental controls. It does cost money, but Norton’s regular updates guarantee your security from real-time online threats.

You can take advantage of Norton’s 60-day money-back guarantee to try the service risk-free. If you find it’s not right for you, you can get a refund by contacting the 24/7 live chat. It took less than 5 minutes for me to get my request approved and I had my money back in just 5 days!

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2. TotalAV — Variety of Useful Performance-Enhancing Tools for Your Windows PC

Key Features:

  • Easily defends Windows from ransomware, adware, spyware, viruses, and rootkits.
  • Includes PC optimization tools as well as a password vault and a VPN.
  • Compatible with Windows 10 and 11.
  • 24/7 customer support by live chat, email, or phone.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.

TotalAV’s impressive optimization tools make it a great alternative to Microsoft Defender. During my Smart Scan, TotalAV suggested multiple ways to optimize my PC. It checked for junk and duplicate files and uncleared browser cookies, among others. I resolved all issues in minutes and found it made a big difference to my system performance.

Smart scan result
TotalAV offers multiple easy-to-use tune-up tools

These performance tune-up tools are lacking from Microsoft Defender, which only includes a general PC health report. TotalAV also includes various other features to help keep you safe, including the following:

  • Built-in VPN — Hides your identity and encrypts your connection to keep you safe on the web.
  • Password Vault — Simple and easy-to-use browser extension that helps manage sensitive credentials.
  • WebShield — Protects you from dangerous websites known to have phishing links, ransomware, and other threats.
  • Ad blocker — Lets you block intrusive ads and get a smoother experience while surfing the web.

TotalAV also includes a password vault, a VPN, an ad blocker, and Web Shield, which is a browser extension that blocks malicious websites. Like Norton, it also comes with identity theft protection and a data breach test that scans the web for leaks of your information.

I was pleased to find TotalAV had almost no impact on my PC during tests, even when running high-intensity virus scans. TotalAV also updates its software regularly, allowing it to easily detect and block newly-released malware — it scored 97% in real-time threat tests.

I found TotalAV is much easier to use than Microsoft Defender. The interface is simple to navigate even if you’re a first-time antivirus user. Unlike Microsoft Defender, TotalAV’s app doesn’t have any hidden features or unnecessary dropdown menus that make it difficult to configure the settings.

The cheapest TotalAV subscription is as low as $19.00 a year, but I recommend TotalAV Internet Security as it provides the best value for money. Plus, You can try TotalAV risk-free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee to see if the service is a good fit for your needs. I had my refund only 2 days after requesting it.

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3. McAfee — Easy-to-Customize Firewall Blocks Windows-Specific Threats

Key Features:

  • Advanced AI predicts strains of new malware before it’s even released.
  • Includes customizable firewall, web protection tools, optimization tools, and more.
  • Supports Windows 10 and 11.
  • 24/7 customer support by online chat or phone.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.

McAfee’s customizable firewall and intuitive interface are much more user-friendly than Microsoft Defender. Even for a first-time antivirus user, McAfee makes adjusting important settings very easy — every option is clearly labeled so you won’t accidentally switch off or change any important settings.

Screenshot of McAfee's firewall interface
You can configure McAfee or leave its settings in the default state

With McAfee’s firewall, I particularly like its 2-way threat detection. Not only does the firewall secure your PC from incoming malware, but it also stops unwanted traffic from leaving your PC — protecting your entire network from threats. I used the firewall alongside McAfee’s vulnerability scanner and home network monitor, both of which constantly scan apps and external devices for vulnerabilities. These features aren’t included with Microsoft Defender.

I also like that McAfee’s WebAdvisor browser extension automatically blocks phishing scams, cryptojacking, and dangerous websites while you’re browsing online. This extension is available on Firefox, Edge, and Chrome and will secure your preferred browser.

McAfee provides even more features that improve your Windows security, and that Microsoft Defender is missing. These features include the following:

  • Built-in VPN — secures your online activity by encrypting your connection.
  • Parental controls — help monitor and safeguard your kids’ activity.
  • File shredder — removes files permanently so that they can’t be accessed by anyone afterward.
  • Password manager — provides safe storage for your credentials and sensitive information.

In my own tests, McAfee achieved 100% detection rates for real-time malware attacks. McAfee also includes ransomware protection, something that Windows Security only includes when you subscribe to OneDrive for a fee.

While it isn’t free, McAfee is an affordable option with a range of plans to suit your budget. Although you can subscribe to McAfee for as low as $44.99, I consider its Family Plan is the best value. This plan protects up to 10 devices across multiple platforms and provides Safe Family parental control features.

You can try McAfee with your Windows PC risk-free by using its 30-day money-back guarantee. I even tested this guarantee myself by asking for a refund, which was approved via phone call in 10 minutes. Afterward, I had the money back in my account in 7 business days.

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4. Intego — Provides Well-Rounded Security on Windows Devices

Key Features:

  • Offers real-time protection to block malware before it infects your system.
  • Includes optimization tools that help improve device performance.
  • Works on Windows 7 and above.
  • Has 24/7 live chat, phone support, email support, and an online knowledge base.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.

Intego provides worthwhile security and useful device optimization, even though it isn’t as feature-rich as top choices like Norton. Also, its apps have highly intuitive designs that make them easy to navigate and use.

Screenshot of Intego's intuitive Windows app interface
Intego’s apps have beginner-friendly and intuitive designs

Intego’s quick and full virus scans detected 99.4% of the malware I planted during my series of tests. There’s also real-time security, which blocked any malicious files I attempted to download in my tests. Unfortunately, its innovative 2-way firewall isn’t available in the Windows app, meaning its protection falls behind top choices like Norton.

You’ll also get the following features with Intego for added safety and enhanced performance:

  • Complete Checkup — removes duplicate and unnecessary files to free up space.
  • Prevention Engine — monitors suspicious app behavior to stop malware.
  • Safe Browsing — stops you from opening unsafe sites that may infect your system.

For Windows, Intego offers Personal, Family, and Extended plans, which have the same features, but protect 1, 3, and 5 devices, respectively.

You’ll get the most value with Intego’s Mac Premium Bundle. It offers all the app’s crucial features and costs just 1-year. Also, you can try Intego risk-free regardless of your plan, thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee. After my tests, I requested a refund via email and had my money back within 10 days.

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5. Bitdefender — Hands-Off Antivirus Ideal for First-Time Users

Key Features:

  • Scans thoroughly for malware and has a perfect detection rate.
  • Includes game mode, secure browser, password manager, VPN, and more.
  • Supports Windows 10 and 11.
  • 24/7 support by live chat, email, or phone.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bitdefender is a top choice for hands-off antivirus security and upgrading from Microsoft Defender without hassle. Bitdefender has a unique Autopilot feature that analyzes how your device performs and automatically configures itself for you. You don’t need to touch a single setting to get the best overall protection, which is vastly different from Microsoft Defender’s complex configuration.

I also found Bitdefender’s interface is much easier to navigate than Microsoft’s. All features are clearly labeled, with short but detailed descriptions. This made it simple to customize features without accidentally clicking on the wrong setting.

Screenshot of Bitdefender's Windows interface.
Clear explanations make it easy to navigate Bitdefender’s Windows app

As Bitdefender is a cloud-based antivirus, it is a lightweight option that won’t impact the overall performance of your PC. During tests, Bitdefender detected 100% of both new and known malware, and I didn’t notice any system slowdown despite high-intensity scans. This is a marked improvement from Microsoft Defender, which made my PC run noticeably slower during scans despite also using cloud-based protection.

Bitdefender has several plans exclusive to Windows PCs, all of which include the following features:

  • Firewall — Highly customizable and easy-to-use firewall that’ll safeguard you from threats.
  • File shredder — Permanently removes files so they can’t be accessed again
  • Built-in VPN — Protects you online by encrypting your connection and keeping you anonymous.
  • Parental controls — A thorough parental control suite that you can use to monitor and manage your children’s activity.

Alongside everything else, there’s a vulnerability assessment scan to check for missing updates, configurable work profiles to mute notifications, and battery life optimization.

You can easily get a yearly Bitdefender subscription for as low as $19.99. However, if you want the best value for money, I recommend Bitdefender’s Internet Security plan. It covers up to 10 devices and has all the necessary security features, including real-time and ransomware protection.

You can try Bitdefender with your Windows device risk-free for 30 days as the service is backed by a money-back guarantee. When I tested this guarantee by asking for a refund via email, it took 5 days to get a response, which is rather long. However, I had my money back 5 days after the refund was confirmed.

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6. Malwarebytes — Offers Airtight Security Without Slowing Down Performance

Key Features:

  • Has multiple scans to find and remove malware.
  • Includes effective real-time security, web protection, and more.
  • Secures devices with Windows 7 SP1 and above.
  • Offers support via live chat, email, and an online knowledge base.
  • 60-day money-back guarantee.

Malwarebytes delivers unbreakable Windows security with its security features. Its real-time protection offers various tools like exploit protection, ransomware protection, and more to defend your system against threats. Also, there’s a dashboard to keep track of all the real-time threats Malwarebytes stops.

Malwarebytes' app showing real-time protection and other protection layers enabled
Malwarebytes has a dashboard that logs its real-time protection results

You’ll get quick, threat, and custom scans with this app, and Malwarebytes’ scans found 99% of malware on my system during tests. Its malware detection isn’t flawless like Norton’s, but it still delivers an impressive score. Also, I like that Malwarebytes is lightweight and doesn’t slow down performance, even during scans. So, it’s great for low-end systems that other apps may slow down.

Some other safety features available in Malwarebytes include the following:

  • Browser Guard — stops you from opening unsafe websites that may infect your system.
  • Built-in VPN — uses industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption to safeguard your browsing activity.

Malwarebytes’s paid plans include the Premium plan for 1 or 3 devices and the Premium + Privacy plan for 3 or 5 devices. The pricing varies depending on how many devices you want to protect, and you’ll get the best value with Malwarebytes’ Premium + Privacy plan for 5 devices.

Of course, you can try Malwarebytes risk-free because it has a 60-day money-back guarantee. It’s easy to ask for a refund via email if the app doesn’t suit you, and I got my money back 8 days after requesting a refund.

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7. Panda — Packed With Extra Features Missing from Microsoft Defender

Key Features:

  • Successfully identifies and removes the newest malware strains.
  • Includes a VPN, PC rescue kit, process monitor, password manager, and more.
  • Available on Windows 10 and 11.
  • 24/7 tech support available by email and phone.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.

Panda offers a lot of extra features that Microsoft Defender doesn’t have. Given that Panda is cloud-based, it’s a lightweight antivirus option that I found had a small impact on my Windows PC’s performance. Plus, it comes with various useful built-in features like the following:

  • Password manager — Provides safe storage where you can store card details, login credentials, and other sensitive information.
  • Built-in VPN — Keeps you safe as you surf the web by masking your identity and encrypting your traffic.
  • Process Monitor — A more detailed version of the task manager that shows how secure running processes are.
  • Application Control — Lets you decide exactly what permissions the apps on your PC have.

I especially like the PC Rescue Kit, a version of Panda that can be booted to an infected PC from a USB drive. This is a unique feature of Panda and a great choice if you have a malware-infected PC that won’t start up — it successfully removed malware from my heavily infected test PC.

Panda has an excellent malware scanner for Windows. The software detected 98% of all malware in my series of tests, including the newest cyber threats. Panda also had fewer falsely flagged items than other antiviruses, making it less time-consuming to sort through quarantined files.

Panda has plans and flexible payment options to suit your budget. Its cheapest plan will cost you $19.20, and there’s even a free plan, although it’s missing crucial ransomware protection. I recommend either combining the free plan with Microsoft Defender or subscribing to Panda Dome Complete as it provides the best value.

You can test Panda’s premium antivirus risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. Getting a refund is easy as all you have to do is fill out a web form and forward it to customer support. After I requested a refund, I got a response in 3 hours saying it was confirmed. Later, I had the money refunded in 8 days.

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8. Avira — Top Free Antivirus for Windows

Key Features:

  • Detects malware threats as soon as they are downloaded onto your device.
  • Includes device optimization tools, VPN, password manager, and more.
  • Supports Windows 10 and 11.
  • Contact customer support via phone and email.
  • 60-day money-back guarantee.

Despite being a free antivirus, Avira’s Free Security Suite easily outperforms Microsoft Defender. Avira’s virus scanner successfully flags and isolates malware in real-time during testing — blocking 100% of zero-day threats as the top free antivirus for Windows. It comes with various tools and features, including the following:

  • Optimization tools — Various tools to help fine-tune your system’s performance and make it perform faster.
  • Safe Shopping — A browser extension that keeps you safe during online transactions and blocks trackers.
  • Duplicate Finder — Locates and removes duplicate files on your system to clean up space.

This is an impressive amount of features for a free service, plus I found Avira is easy to use and has a well-organized interface. The only catch is Avira’s free antivirus doesn’t offer ransomware protection.

Avira offers paid plans as well, with its cheapest option costing $26.99. If you’re looking for truly premium protection, you can upgrade to Avira’s Prime plan. It includes ransomware protection, unlimited VPN, web and email protection, optimization tools, and more. However, it’s slightly more expensive than Norton, which gives you better security and privacy overall.

You can try Avira’s Prime plan with the 60-day money-back guarantee or download the free version. Also, it’s easy to claim the money-back guarantee — I simply asked for a refund via email and I had my money back in just 1 day, even though I was told it could take up to 7 business days.

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9. AVG — Worthwhile Windows Antivirus With Useful Security Features

Key Features:

  • Has multiple virus scans to detect and remove malware.
  • Provides a data shredder, built-in VPN, and other useful security features.
  • Supports Windows 8, 8.1, 10, and 11.
  • Offers customer support via 24/7 live chat, community forums, and a knowledge base.
  • Backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

While its reputation took a hit in the past, AVG has recently started redeeming itself and is a reliable app for security. With effective malware detection scores, multiple safety features, and protection for up to 10 Windows devices, AVG is a great antivirus.

In my tests, AVG detected 100% of malware on my test system via its scans and was similarly effective at blocking real-time threats before they could infect my Windows PC. Also, AVG has a secure firewall with advanced features like leak protection, port scan alerts, and spoofing alerts to keep you safe.

AVG app showing enhanced firewall activated
AVG’s firewall has multiple advanced safety features

I also like that AVG includes other security features to add more layers of protection to your Windows devices. These features include:

  • Anti-track — stops ads and trackers from monitoring your online activity.
  • Built-in VPN — uses AES 256-bit encryption to protect your browsing.
  • TuneUp — helps enhance system performance and free up space.

You can get AVG for free, but its free plan only offers virus scans and ransomware protection. AVG’s paid plans include the following:

  • Internet Security — has all of AVG’s core antivirus features and WiFi security.
  • Premium — provides AVG’s VPN, anti-track feature, optimization tools, and everything in Internet Security.

AVG’s plans can protect 1 or 10 devices, and the prices change accordingly. You’ll get the best value with AVG’s premium plan for 10 devices, as it offers all the security app’s vital features and lets you safeguard multiple Windows systems simultaneously.

Best of all, the 30-day money-back guarantee lets you try AVG risk-free. I even tested its refund policy, and AVG refunded my money in 2 days after confirming my refund via live chat.

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Comparison Table: Best Microsoft Defender Alternatives

Here is a quick overview of the top antivirus alternatives to Microsoft Defender, showing the key features of each service:

Malware Detection Test Results Free Version Extra Features Supported Platforms Lowest Price Money-Back Guarantee
Norton 100% Real-time protection, password manager, VPN, firewall, web protection, cloud backup, parental controls, and more Windows, Mac, Android, iOS $19.99 60 days
TotalAV 100% Real-time protection, VPN, web protection, and more Windows, Mac, Android, iOS $19.00 30 days
McAfee 100% Real-time protection, password manager, VPN, firewall, web protection, optimization tools, and more Windows, Mac, Android, iOS $44.99 30 days
Intego 99.4% Real-time protection, optimization tools, web protection, and more Windows and macOS $19.99 30 days
Bitdefender 100% Real-time protection, VPN, firewall, web protection, parental controls, and more Windows, Mac, Android, iOS $19.99 30 days
Microsoft Defender 98% Real-time protection, firewall, exploit protection, and more Windows N/A N/A

After extensive testing, Norton emerges as the best alternative to Microsoft Defender. Norton has 100% new and known malware-detection results, plus a range of security and privacy features that provide comprehensive protection for your Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.

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How To Choose the Best Microsoft Defender Alternatives

When choosing your antivirus software, it’s worth considering the following criteria — these are the areas I looked at when testing and ranking the top alternatives to Microsoft Defender:

  • Better malware protection — Every recommended antivirus has better malware protection than Microsoft Defender, including the free options. They are updated frequently to secure your PC against the latest threats.
  • Security features — Microsoft Defender lacks many of the top-tier features included in other antivirus software like Norton, such as a password manager, VPN, and performance optimization tools.
  • Ease-of-use — The antivirus you choose should be hassle-free to install and use, as well as have a simple interface that makes configuration easy. Norton’s Windows interface is particularly intuitive, even for first-time antivirus users.
  • OS support — Microsoft Defender is only optimized for Windows and cannot be used on other operating systems. An antivirus like Norton is compatible with multiple platforms including iOS, Mac, Android, and more, so it can secure all of your devices.
  • Value for money — While Microsoft Defender is free, it’s not a comprehensive solution for your PC. You can opt for a different free antivirus like Avira, which provides better but still limited coverage. Otherwise, services like Norton, McAfee, and TotalAV have affordable subscriptions to protect your device.

Overall, the best alternative to Windows Security is Norton. Its powerful malware engine and comprehensive software package make it worth the cost of a subscription, and you can try Norton risk-free to make sure it’s right for you.

Try Norton on Windows risk-free

Warning: Avoid these Antiviruses for Windows 10 & 11

Avast and AVG

Millions of users will download Avast and AVG to replace Microsoft Defender, as both are popular free antivirus programs. Unfortunately, what most people don’t know is that Avast has been caught selling private user data to make a profit (Avast is the parent company of AVG). The information sold includes browsing activity and some personally identifiable data. This is a huge breach of privacy, so I can’t recommend either Avast or AVG as a reputable antivirus for keeping your personal files safe.

PC Matic

PC Matic was originally developed exclusively for Windows, so I was surprised by the average performance of its antivirus engine. The software also mistakenly flagged a large number of safe files as dangerous, which I found time-consuming to sort through.

FAQ: Microsoft Defender and Alternative Antivirus Software

Is Microsoft Defender good enough for Windows 10 and 11?

While Microsoft Defender has improved over the years, it’s not enough to fully secure your Windows PC. It does have some good features, like parental controls, phishing protection, and hardware security, but these features aren’t as comprehensive as those offered by a premium antivirus service.

My main concern is that Microsoft Defender struggles to identify and block the latest viruses and malware. This is due to a lack of regular updates, which means Microsoft Defender can’t consistently identify and quarantine zero-day threats. If you store personal information on your PC (like photos, work documents, or financial information) you cannot rely on Microsoft Defender as your only line of cyber defense.

To fully secure your PC, I recommend you choose a premium antivirus service like Norton. Norton continuously updates to ensure you have the latest protection, plus it has top-tier security features like a VPN, password manager, a firewall, and cloud storage. While it’s not a free service, you can try Norton on your Windows PC risk-free as the software is backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Can Microsoft Defender detect and remove malware?

Yes, Microsoft Defender can detect and remove malware, but it isn’t a reliable choice for protection against zero-day threats.

During my tests, Microsoft Defender detected 98% of real-time threats. While this may seem outstanding, it pales in comparison to Norton’s 100% zero-day malware detection. Missing 1% of threats is all it takes to infect your PC. It’s also worth noting that Microsoft Defender falsely flagged 5 safe files as malicious, while Norton only flagged genuinely malicious items.

To remain secure at all times, you need to invest in a top-tier antivirus service like Norton. Its constant software updates protect your PC against the newest attacks, automatically quarantining malicious files to keep your data and devices secure.

Does Microsoft Defender have phishing protection?

Yes, Microsoft Defender offers phishing protection for Microsoft Edge as well as other browsers. Called SmartScreen, it’s designed to secure your device against phishing scams, blocking you from accessing malicious websites. However, it doesn’t work as well as Google or Mozilla’s in-built phishing protection.

For comprehensive coverage against phishing scams, malicious websites, and real-time threats, I recommend you opt for a premium antivirus instead. A service like Norton provides phishing protection for all browsers so you can browse securely however you like.

Is Microsoft Defender better than a free antivirus?

Microsoft Defender is better than some free antivirus services, but not all. It encompasses various features that are often absent in many free antivirus software, such as live malware protection, a firewall, and parental controls. As a pre-installed no-cost solution, Microsoft Defender effectively ensures the security of your Windows PC.

However, there are multiple free VPNs for Windows that provide better protection than Microsoft Defender. A service like Avira has higher malware detection rates, plus a password manager, browser extension, and file shredder for securely deleting documents. It’s not as comprehensive as a security suite like Norton, but installing Avira will give you much better protection than using Microsoft Defender alone.

Can I use Microsoft Defender with another antivirus?

Yes, you can use Microsoft Defender with another antivirus, including all of the premium antivirus software on this list. Using another antivirus provides extra security, as a comprehensive antivirus will fill the gaps in your protection left by Microsoft Defender. However, some antiviruses aren’t compatible with Microsoft Defender, and this can cause software conflicts that compromise your security.

Overall, it’s better to use a separate antivirus service that covers your entire PC. You can choose a free option like Avira, which has an impressive range of security features (but doesn’t include ransomware protection). Alternatively, my tests have shown Norton is the best antivirus service for Windows with 100% new and known malware detection and comprehensive security and privacy features.

Try Norton on Windows risk-free!

Combine Microsoft Defender With a Quality Windows Antivirus

For a free antivirus service, Microsoft Defender has improved considerably since its last major update. Unfortunately, depending solely on Microsoft Defender falls short in providing comprehensive protection for your Windows device. Therefore, I recommend either enhancing it with a premium antivirus service or considering a complete replacement.

Norton takes the top spot as the best antivirus for Windows in 2023. Not only does it block all types of Windows-specific malware, but it comes with a range of security features for your PC. Best of all, you can try Norton risk-free for 60 days with its money-back guarantee! When I tested the refund policy, it only took me a couple of minutes over 24/7 live chat and I got the money back in less than a week.

Summary — Best Antivirus Alternatives to Microsoft Defender

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