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Using Windows Defender

Using Windows Defender
Windows Defender is antispyware software that's included with Windows and runs automatically when it's turned on. Using antispyware software can help protect your computer against spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Spyware can be installed on your computer without your knowledge any time you connect to the Internet, and it can infect your computer when you install some programs using a CD, DVD, or other removable media. Spyware can also be programmed to run at unexpected times, not just when it's installed.
Windows Defender offers two ways to help keep spyware from infecting your computer:
  • Real-time protection.‍‍ Windows Defender alerts you when spyware attempts to install itself or to run on your computer. It also alerts you when programs attempt to change important Windows settings.
  • Scanning options. You can use Windows Defender to scan for spyware that might be installed on your computer, to schedule scans on a regular basis, and to automatically remove anything that's detected during a scan.
When you use Windows Defender, it's important to have up-to-date definitions. Definitions are files that act like an ever-growing encyclopedia of potential software threats. Windows Defender uses definitions to alert you to potential risks if it determines that software detected is spyware or other potentially unwanted software. To help keep your definitions up to date, Windows Defender works with Windows Update to automatically install new definitions as they're released. You can also set Windows Defender to check online for updated definitions before scanning. For information about keeping your definitions up to date and how to manually download the latest definitions, see
Keep Windows Defender definitions up to date
Windows Defender definitions are files that act like an encyclopedia of known spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Because spyware is continually being developed, Windows Defender relies on up-to-date definitions to determine if software that is trying to install or run on your computer is spyware or potentially unwanted software.
Windows Defender works with your Windows Update settings to automatically install the latest definitions. For more information, see Change how Windows installs or notifies you about updates.
 To automatically check for new definitions before scheduled scans (recommended)
  1. Click to open Windows Defender.
  2. Click Tools, and then click Options.
  3. Under Automatic scanning, make sure the Automatically scan my computer (recommended) check box is selected.
  4. Select the Check for updated definitions before scanning check box, and then click Save.  If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
 To check for new definitions manually
If you don't use scheduled scans, or if you don't get updates automatically, you should check for new definitions at least once a week. To help protect your computer, Windows Defender will notify you if your definitions are out of date for more than seven days.
  1. Click to open Windows Defender.
  2. Click the arrow next to the Help button , and then click Check for updates.


Click these links for more information about using WindowsDefender:


Scan for spyware and other potentially unwanted software
In Windows Defender, you can choose to run a quick scan of your computer or a full scan. If you suspect spyware has infected a specific area of your computer, you can customize a scan by selecting only the drives and folders that you want to check.
A quick scan checks the places on your computer's hard disk that spyware is most likely to infect. A full scan checks all files on your hard disk and all currently running programs, but it might cause your computer to run slowly until the scan is complete. We recommend that you schedule a daily quick scan. At any time, if you suspect that spyware has infected your computer, run a full scan. For information about scheduling scans to occur regularly, see Schedule when Windows Defender scans your computer.
 To scan the areas of your computer that spyware is most likely to infect (Quick scan)
  1. Click to open Windows Defender.
  2. Click Scan.
 To scan all areas of your computer (Full scan)
  1. Click to open Windows Defender.
  2. Click the down arrow next to the Scan button, and then click Full scan.
 To scan specific areas of your computer only (Custom scan)
You can select specific locations on your computer for Windows Defender to scan. However, if spyware or potentially unwanted software is detected, Windows Defender will then run a quick scan so the detected items can be removed from other areas of your computer, if needed.
  1. Click to open Windows Defender.
  2. Click the down arrow next to the Scan button, and then click Custom scan.
  3. Click Scan selected drives and folders, and then click Select.
  4. Select the drives and folders that you want to scan, and then click OK.
  5. Click Scan now to run a scan.
 To choose advanced scanning options
When scanning your computer, you can choose from five additional options:
    • Scan archive files. Scanning these locations might increase the time required to complete a scan, but spyware and other potentially unwanted software can install itself and attempt to hide in these locations.
    • Scan e‑mail. Use this option to scan the contents of e‑mail messages and files that are attached to e‑mail messages.
    • Scan removable drives. Use this option to scan the contents of removable drives, such as USB flash drives.
    • Use heuristics. Windows Defender uses definition files to identify known threats, but it can also detect and alert you about potentially harmful or unwanted behavior by software that is not yet listed in a definition file. For more information about definition files, see Keep Windows Defender definitions up to date.
    • Create a restore point. Because you can set Windows Defender to automatically remove detected items, selecting this option allows you to restore system settings in case you want to use software that you didn't intend to remove.
  1. Click to open Windows Defender.
  2. Click Tools, and then click Options.
  3. Click Advanced, select the check box next to each option that you want to use, and then click Save.  If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.






Understanding Windows Defender alert levels
Alert levels help you choose how to respond to spyware and potentially unwanted software. While Windows Defender will recommend that you remove spyware, not all software that is flagged is malicious or unwanted. The information in this table can help you decide what to do if Windows Defender detects potentially unwanted software on your computer.
Alert level
What it means
What to do
Severe or High
Programs that might collect your personal information and negatively affect your privacy or damage your computer, for example, by collecting information or changing settings, typically without your knowledge or consent.
Remove this software immediately.
Medium
Programs that might affect your privacy or make changes to your computer that could negatively impact your computing experience, for example, by collecting personal information or changing settings.
Review the alert details to see why the software was detected. If you don't like what the software does or if you don't recognize and trust the publisher, consider blocking or removing the software.
Low
Potentially unwanted software that might collect information about you or your computer or change how your computer works, but is operating in agreement with licensing terms displayed when you installed the software.
This software is typically benign when it runs on your computer, unless it was installed without your knowledge. If you're not sure whether to allow it, review the alert details or check to see if you recognize and trust the publisher of the software.



Understanding Windows Defender real-time protection
Real-time spyware protection alerts you when spyware and other potentially unwanted software attempts to install itself or run on your computer. Depending on the alert level, you can choose one of these actions to apply to the software:
  • Quarantine. Moves the software to another location on your computer, and then prevents it from running until you choose to restore it or remove it from your computer.
  • Remove. Permanently deletes the software from your computer.
  • Allow. Adds the software to the Windows Defender allowed list and allows it to run on your computer. Windows Defender will stop alerting you to risks that the software might pose to your privacy or your computer. Add software to the allowed list only if you trust the software and the software publisher.
You can choose the software and settings that you want Windows Defender to monitor, but we recommend that you use all of the real-time protection options, called agents. The following table explains each agent and why it's important.
Real-time protection agent
Purpose
Downloaded files and attachments
Monitors files and programs that are designed to work with web browsers. These files can be downloaded, installed, or run by the browser itself. Spyware and other potentially unwanted software can be included with these files and installed without your knowledge.
Programs that run on your computer
Monitors when programs start and any operations they perform while running. Spyware and other potentially unwanted software can use vulnerabilities in programs that you have installed to run malicious or unwanted software without your knowledge. For example, spyware can run in the background when you start a program that you frequently use. Windows Defender monitors your programs and alerts you if suspicious activity is detected.



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