Virus & threat protection in Windows Security


  • If you're running Windows 10 in S mode, some of the features of the Windows Security interface will be a little different. Windows 10 in S mode is streamlined for tighter security, so the Virus & threat protection area has fewer options than those described here. This is because the built-in security of Windows 10 in S mode automatically prevents viruses and other threats from running on your device. Additionally, devices running Windows 10 in S mode receive security updates automatically.

  • In previous versions of Windows 10, Windows Security is called Windows Defender Security Center.

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:

  • See any threats currently on your device.

  • See the last time a scan was run on your device, how long it took, and how many files were scanned.

  • Start a new scan.

  • 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.

Note: If you are using third-party antivirus software, you’ll be able to use its virus and threat protection options here.


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 Windows Security recommends that you run one of the other types of scans, you'll be notified when the Quick 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. This will restart your device, so be sure to save files you may have open.

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.

Note: If the device you’re using is part of an organization, your system administrator may prevent you from turning off real-time protection.

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.

Tamper Protection defends your security settings

Microsoft Defender Antivirus settings can occasionally get changed by malicious, or careless, apps or processes; or sometimes by unaware people. With Tamper Protection turned on, important settings like real-time protection, can't be easily or accidentally turned off.

Learn more about Tamper Protection.

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.

Note: If you try to save a file to a folder and the folder is blocked, that means the app you’re using is blocked from saving to that location. If that happens, save the file to another location on your device. Then use the previous steps to unblock the app, and you’ll be able to save the files to your desired location.

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.

Learn more about adding an exclusion to Windows Security

Curate your notifications

Windows Security will send notifications about the health and safety of your device. You can turn these notifications on, or off, on the notifications page. In Virus & threat protection, under Virus & threat protection settings, select Manage settings, scroll down to Notifications and select Change notification settings.

Protect your device with the latest updates

Security intelligence (sometimes referred to as "definitions") are files that contain information about the latest threats that could infect your device. Windows Security uses security intelligence every time a scan is run.

Microsoft automatically downloads the latest intelligence to your device as part of Windows Update, but you can also manually check for it. On the Virus & threat protection page, under Virus & threat protection updates, select Check for updates to scan for the latest security intelligence.

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