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 protecting 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 provides antivirus protection updates by showing 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 seven 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.
- Account protection. Access sign-in options and account settings, including Windows Hello and dynamic lock.
- Firewall & network protection. Manage the settings for Windows Defender Firewall, and monitor what’s happening with your networks and Internet connections.
- App & browser control. Update settings for Windows Defender SmartScreen to help protect your device against potentially dangerous apps, files, sites, and downloads. Also provides exploit protection so you can customize protection settings for your devices.
- Device security. Review built-in security options to help protect your device from attacks by malicious software.
- Device performance & health. View status info about your device’s performance health and keep your device clean and up to date with the latest version of Windows 10.
- Family options. Keep track of your kids’ online activity and the devices in your household.
You’ll see that some of these areas display 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 that something needs your immediate attention.
If you have another antivirus app installed, Windows Defender Antivirus will turn off automatically.
Run a scan manually
If you suspect that you might have malware or a virus on your device, you should immediately check your device by running a quick scan. This saves you time when you don’t want to run a full scan on all your files and folders. To run a quick scan in Windows Defender Security Center, select Virus & threat protection, and then under Threat history, select Scan now.
If you want a more specific check of your device’s safety, run one of the advanced scans in Windows Defender Security Center. To access advanced scan options, select Virus & threat protection, and then under Threat history, select Run a new advanced scan. On the Advanced scans screen, select one of the following options:
- 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 select the Windows Defender folder.
- In the top-center pane, select 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.
- In Windows Defender Security Center, select Virus & threat protection > Virus & threat protection settings.
- Switch the Real-time protection setting to Off.