Windows 10 antivirus
These days PCs are less susceptible to viruses than they once were, but that doesn't make them immune.
Most malware gets on to your PC through trickery or deception – perhaps you click a link in an email or download a file from a dodgy source without realising it. When this happens, you need to know that something has your PC's back, silently looking out for infections and acting to block them before they wreak havoc.
Windows 10 ships with built-in protection in the form of Windows Defender, so in this tutorial we'll reveal how to set it up and use it. Windows Defender offers reasonable protection, but it's still outclassed by other anti-virus software – we'll round things off by revealing two additional tools you should consider: one to replace Windows Defender, the other to complement whatever protection you choose.
Access Windows Defender
If you've not already installed third-party antivirus software, then Windows Defender is running quietly in the background from the moment Windows 10 is installed on your PC. To verify this, click Start > Settings > Update & Security and select Windows Defender from the list. Verify both 'Real-time protection' and 'Cloud-based Protection' switches are set to 'On'.
Run a scan
Scroll down to the bottom of the Settings dialogue box and click 'Use Windows Defender' to launch the main Windows Defender program. You'll see a list of scan options on the left: 'Quick' scans the most vulnerable areas of your PC for possible infections, while 'Full' allows you to scan your entire computer and hard drive. Choose 'Custom' to select a specific folder or drive. Click 'Scan now'.
Wait while the scan is performed – this can take some time depending on the size and scope of the scan, plus the speed of your hard drive. Once complete, Windows Defender will display a summary of what it's found. Hopefully it'll come up clean – in which case you might want to skip to step 7 to perform additional actions to tighten security further.
If malware is found, let Windows Defender attempt to remove it, then reboot and run a full scan again. If the malware is persistent, try Safe mode: press [Win] + [R], type msconfig and press [Enter]. Switch to the Boot tab, tick Safe boot and select Network, then click OK, rebooting automatically into Safe mode when prompted. Run another scan – Windows Defender should have more success.
Windows Defender should also scan files as they're opened and alert you via the Action Centre if it spots malware, which it will attempt to remove before it can gain a foothold on your system. To see what it's found, open Windows Defender, switch to the History tab, select 'All detected items' and review what it's found.
Some files may be incorrectly detected as malware – if you've good reason to trust them, then tick the item in question and choose 'Allow item' to pass it. In the vast majority of cases, however, you should trust Windows Defender in which case click 'Remove all' to dump them. If you change your mind about a trusted file, remove it from the 'Allowed items' section.
Beef up protection
Windows Defender offers basic protection, but Panda Free Antivirus 2016 has a better malware detection rate and additional features – download it from www.pandasecurity.com/uk - scroll to the bottom of the page and select 'Free Antivirus 2016' under 'Home Users Solutions'. Untick the boxes to change search engine and home page during installation, and choose Basic Protection to get it.
Next, visit Malwarebytes.org to download the Free edition of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This scan-and-remove tool doesn't offer real-time protection, so you need to remember to open it and run a scan at least once a week. It'll find malware that other security products ignore, such as potentially unwanted software and adware, all without conflicting with your existing protection.