Virus & threat protection in Windows Security

Applies to: SecurityWindows Defender for Windows 10

Virus & threat protection in Windows Security helps you scan for threats on your device. You can also run different types of scans, see the results of your previous virus and threat scans, and get the latest protection offered by Microsoft Defender Antivirus.


Virus and threat protection

The Current threats area lets you:

  • Scan for potentially harmful threats on your device.
  • See any threats currently on your device.
  • See threats that have been quarantined before they can affect you.
  • See anything identified as a threat that you have allowed to run on your device.
  • See the last time a scan was run on your device and how many files were scanned.
  • Run a specific type of scan.

Run the scans you want

Even though Windows Security is turned on and scans your device automatically, you can perform an additional scan whenever you want.

  • Quick scan. Concerned that you may have done something to introduce a suspicious file or virus to your device? Select Quick scan (called Scan now in previous versions of Windows 10) to immediately check your device for any recent threats. This option is useful when you don’t want to spend the time running a full scan on all your files and folders. If you need to run one of the other types of scans, you'll be notified when the scan is done.
  • Scan options. Select this link (called Run a new advanced scan in previous versions of Windows 10) to choose from one of the following advanced scan options:
    • Full scan. Scans every file or program that’s currently running on your device to make sure there’s nothing dangerous in progress.
    • Custom scan. Scans only files and folders that you select.
    • Microsoft Defender Offline scan. Uses the latest definitions to scan your device for the latest threats. Run it when you are concerned that your device has been exposed to malware or a virus, or if you want to scan your device without being connected to the Internet.

Protect your device with the latest definitions

Definitions are files that contain information about the latest threats that could infect your device. Windows Security uses definitions every time a scan is run. Microsoft automatically downloads the latest definitions to your device, but you can also manually check that you have the most current definitions. On the Virus & threat protection page, under Virus & threat protection updates, select Check for updates to scan for the latest definitions.

Manage your Virus & threat protection settings

Use Virus & threat protection settings when you want to customize your level of protection, send sample files to Microsoft, exclude trusted files and folders from repeated scanning, or temporarily turn off your protection.

Manage your real-time protection

Want to stop running real-time protection for a short while? You can use the Real-time protection setting to turn it off temporarily; however, real-time protection will turn on automatically after a short while to resume protecting your device. While real-time protection is off, files you open or download won’t be scanned for threats.

Get access to cloud-delivered protection

Provide your device with access to the latest threat definitions and threat behavior detection in the cloud.

Send us files with automatic sample submission

If you’re connected to the cloud with cloud-delivered protection, you can send suspicious sample files to Microsoft to check them for potential threats. Microsoft will notify you if you need to send additional files—and alert you if a requested file contains personal information.

Protect files from unauthorized access

Use the Controlled folder access setting to manage which folders apps can make changes to. You can also add additional apps you trust to make changes in those folders.

When you turn on Controlled folder access, a lot of the folders you use most often will be protected by default. This means that content in any of these folders cannot be accessed or changed by any unknown or untrusted apps. Once you add additional folders, they become automatically protected as well.

To add protected folders:

  1. Go to Start  > Settings  > Update & Security  >Windows Security , and then select Virus & threat protection.
  2. Under Virus & threat protection settings, select Manage settings.
  3. Under Controlled folder access, select Manage Controlled folder access.
  4. Under Controlled folder access, select Protected folders.
  5. Select Add a protected folder and follow the instructions to add folders.

If you see an App is blocked message when you try to use a familiar app, you can simply unblock the app. Here's how:

  1. Write down or take note of the path of the blocked app.
  2. Select the message, and then select Add an allowed app.
  3. Browse for the program to which you want to allow access.

Learn more about using Controlled folder access

Exclude items from virus scans

There may be times when you’ll want to exclude specific files, folders, file types, or processes from being scanned, such as if these are trusted items and you are certain you don’t need to take time to scan them.