Windows 10 provides the latest antivirus protection with Windows Defender Security Center, which contains Windows Defender Antivirus. When you start up Windows 10 for the first time, Windows Defender Antivirus is on and actively helping to protect your device by scanning for malware (malicious software), viruses, and security threats.
Windows Defender Antivirus uses real-time protection to scan your downloads and the programs you run on your device. Also, Windows Update downloads updates for Windows Defender Antivirus automatically to help keep your device safe and protect it from threats.
Windows Defender Security Center shows you how Windows Defender Antivirus has been protecting you. It shows you when:
- Your device was last scanned for threats.
- Your definitions were last updated. Definitions are files that Windows Defender Antivirus uses to protect your device against the latest threats.
- The Device performance and health scan was run to ensure your device is operating efficiently.
Windows Defender Security Center has five areas that protect your device and let you specify how you want your device protected:
- Virus & threat protection. Monitor threats to your device, run scans, and get updates to help detect the latest threats.
- Device performance & health. See status about your device’s performance health and keep your device clean and up to date with the latest version of Windows 10.
- Firewall & network protection. Manage the settings for Windows Defender Firewall, and monitor what’s happening with your networks and Internet connections.
- App and browser control. Lets you use Windows Defender SmartScreen to help protect your device against potentially dangerous apps, files, sites, and downloads. Also provides exploit protection where you can customize protection settings for your devices.
- Family options. Provides easy access to managing your childrens’ online experiences and the devices in your household.
You’ll see that each of the five areas display with a status icon:
- Green means your device is sufficiently protected and there aren’t any recommended actions.
- Yellow means there is a safety recommendation for you.
- Red is a warning you that something needs your immediate attention.
If you have another antivirus app installed, Windows Defender Antivirus will turn off automatically.
Run a scan manually
You can run a quick scan or one of the advanced scans if you want a more specific check of your device’s safety.
- Quick scan. If you’re concerned that you may have done something to introduce a suspicious file or virus to your device, use a quick scan to immediately check your device. Quick scan also saves you time when you don’t want to run a full scan on all your files and folders.
- Full scan. Checks the files and programs that are currently running on your device.
- Custom scan. Scan specific files or folders on your device.
- Windows Defender Offline scan. Run this scan when you are concerned that your device has been, or could potentially be, infected by a virus or malware. Learn more about Windows Defender Offline.
Schedule your own scan
Even though Windows Defender Antivirus is regularly scanning your device to keep it safe, you can set what time and how frequently the scans occur.
- Go to Start , enter schedule tasks into the Search bar, and in the list of results, select Schedule tasks.
- In the left pane, expand Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows, and then scroll down and tap (or double-click) the Windows Defender folder.
- In the top-center pane, tap (or double-click) Windows Defender Scheduled Scan.
- Select the Triggers tab, and then select New.
- Set your time and frequency, and then select OK.
You can also right-click a file or folder in File Explorer, and then select Scan with Windows Defender.
Turn Windows Defender Antivirus real-time protection on or off
There may be a time when you want to temporarily stop running real-time protection. 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.
- Open Windows Defender Security Center, then select Virus & Threat Protection > Threat Settings.
- Turn off Real-time protection.