When Microsoft released Windows 8.1 it also included a free anti-malware tool called Windows Defender. Windows Defender now ships with every new Windows PC as standard, offering malware detection and a software firewall to keep your computer clean and virus-free.

So does Windows Defender make standalone anti-malware software like Panda Dome unnecessary? Not quite.

Infrequent updates

Windows Defender does a reasonably good job of detecting and removing malware that may have been installed on your computer. It also includes some reporting on PC performance and health along with parental controls and content filtering.

However, tests suggest that Defender is behind the curve. Application updates can be infrequent, allowing viruses to escape unnoticed until it is too late. A dedicated, paid-for antivirus application updates multiple times every day to improve detection and reduce the risk of your computer being compromised.

Limited content controls

Microsoft Windows Defender offers parental controls to protect your kids from harmful, adult content. Unfortunately these controls only apply to the Microsoft Edge web browser – any other software (Chrome, Firefox, Opera etc) will not be filtered, so bad content may still sneak through.

You can achieve a greater degree of control using a full-featured application like Panda Dome Family which filters all network traffic. You can use any web browser you like, safely.

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Limited security functionality

Cybercriminals use a range of techniques to break into your computer – malware is just one of their tools. They may use compromised websites to download viruses or hijack your internet connection for use in a botnet.

To combat these threats, professional antivirus tools use advanced features like VPN connections to encrypt web traffic so that hackers cannot steal information as it crosses the web. The VPN also filters content, blocking malicious websites and dodgy downloads automatically. The VPN also helps to protect your privacy, shielding your web browsing activities from marketers and other third parties.

Unfortunately, Windows Defender doesn’t offer any VPN options at all. Nor does it include identity theft protection tools. In fact, Microsoft Windows Defender leaves you exposed to risk by not having these features.

A patchy track record

Windows Defender has something of a patchy track record. Some of the regular updates have caused serious problems for Windows users. Issues have included breaking the virus scanning mechanism, skipping or ignoring infected files, and even causing the whole application to break – until an emergency fix could be released.

You need an anti-malware application that you can trust to protect you at all times. One that has been properly tested to ensure it will not break when new updates are rolled out. Anti-malware that does not work consistently offers almost as much protection as no anti-malware software at all.

Test the difference

The good news is that Windows Defender works with other anti-malware applications like Panda Dome. You can download a free Panda Dome trial to see the difference for yourself – and to ensure your Windows PC is properly protected from malware and hackers.