Does Windows 11 Need Antivirus? Well Yes. But Also No.

Does Windows 11 Need Antivirus Software? The question almost every Windows user asks before or after installing Windows 11 and the one we will try to answer here. Microsoft released its latest firmware in October 2021 with an interface overhaul to differentiate it from the previous Windows 10 OS. Besides streamlining various firmware elements to provide a better user experience, Win 11 treats us with multiple new apps, widgets, and an option to integrate PC with Android smartphone devices.

In addition, the latest version of the Windows operating system offers advanced security features including a built-in antivirus. Microsoft also recommends all Windows devices use antivirus software.

Although Windows 11 comes with its default antivirus program, is Windows Defender enough? It’s always better to run more than one antivirus suite on your computer, just in case one becomes incompatible due to an unexpected error or sudden crash.

So, Microsoft’s Windows Defender antivirus software now comes preinstalled but is Windows Defender good enough? Let’s find out.

does windows 11 need antivirus

Is Antivirus Necessary For Windows 11?

Yes. For a myriad of reasons, the answer to an often-asked query “Does Windows 11 need an antivirus?” is in the affirmative. The reason could range from security patches not always secure, hackers watching your online activities, unauthorized access leaving your sensitive information at risk, the need for more privacy, and many other scenarios in which Windows Defender cannot do it alone.

After years of criticism about its security flaws, users understandably expressed apprehensions about the security of the latest version of Windows upon its release.

To allay such concerns, Microsoft launched its own antivirus offering in the form of “Windows Defender” for all available editions of the operating system starting with Windows 1o. However, it came equipped with basic security features which fell short of giving full protection against sophisticated malware threats.

And so, with the arrival of Windows 11, existing and prospective users began to wonder if they could finally stop paying for antivirus subscriptions.

Microsoft boasts that Windows 11 is the most secure version of its operating system yet but is this claim credible? Before you uninstall the antivirus or cancel your subscription, let’s ascertain the viability of the antivirus software on Windows 11.

Summary: Microsoft Defender suffices as antivirus software for the typical user. Nevertheless, it lacks extra features of paid antivirus solutions from third-party providers. Thus, if robust antivirus and added protective functionalities are important to you, investing in increased protection would benefit you.

Now let’s take a deep dive into what is Microsoft’s Windows Defender antivirus and how it performs so that you can make a better-informed decision when asking, do I need antivirus for Windows 11?

is windows defender good

Do You Need Antivirus For Windows 11?

In technical terms, you don’t need an additional antivirus for Windows 11 (or Windows 10) as it comes with its own antivirus installed out of the box.

Microsoft Defender, previously known as “Windows Defender”, is Microsoft’s own antivirus software, which is a free antivirus tool that’s built into the Windows operating system.

While it used to be terrible, over the past few years, Microsoft has really enhanced Defender’s security. The recent improvements are evident in the antivirus software solution becoming potent at detecting and neutralizing malware and blocking attacks.

But, it doesn’t do everything that a paid antivirus service can do, leaving your device exposed in some areas (keep reading to learn more on this).

With that said, if you’re only interested in using free third-party antivirus protection while having a basic shield operating against threats, Microsoft Defender is adequate.

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How To Check If Windows Defender Is Enabled?

In case you’re not utilizing an antivirus guard from an external source, it’s important to verify the operational status of Windows Defender on your device. Follow these instructions to confirm:

  1. Access the control panel and select System and Security.
  2. Navigate to Windows Defender Firewall.
  3. A window will appear, indicating the status of the firewall.
  4. Should you need to activate Windows Defender, utilize the menu.
  5. Shut down all browser windows and proceed to restart your computer.

To ensure the functionality of your Windows security, adhere to these steps:

  1. Press CTRL+Alt+Del and opt for Task Manager.
  2. Examine the tabs and click on Services.
  3. Scroll down to locate Windows Defender and ascertain if it’s denoted as “running.”

How Does Microsoft Defender Work?

Once enabled, Microsoft Defender performs its tasks of safeguarding your device like any semi-effective antivirus software. In doing that, it detects and blocks malware and other malicious threats and attacks potentially emanating from online and offline sources.

When running in the background, the system performs automatic scans. That said, you have the option to manually scan as well when choosing between:

  • Quick scan
  • Full scan
  • Customized scan (choose specific areas and files to check)
  • Microsoft Defender Antivirus (offline scan)

The last option, however, uses up-to-date threat definitions and is dedicated to detecting malicious software otherwise difficult to spot and remove. If you choose to perform this scan a system restart is required. Whereas all the other types of scans run seamlessly in the background.

microsoft defender virus & threat protection

Moreover, you get access to some useful additional features. One of them is the parental controls that allow you to set the following security parameters:

  • Restrict browsing options
  • Set time cap for device usage
  • Keep track of the location
  • Filter content to limit access to appropriate apps and games

microsoft defender family options

To further ensure that your device is running at its optimum level, there is an option to perform a basic health check. In case any problems come under the radar, you can instantly troubleshoot and fix them.

Which Types Of Threats Does Microsoft Defender Protect From?

Microsoft Defender is arguably capable of protecting your device against the following threats:

  • Ransomware
  • Viruses
  • Trojans
  • Malware
  • Malicious sites
  • Harmful files
  • Malicious download links
  • Network attacks
  • Security exploits
  • Phishing sites

Microsoft Defender Compatible Devices

So, does Microsoft Defender work on all types of devices?

Unfortunately, you cannot run Microsoft Defender on older versions of Windows such as Windows 8.1/8, Windows 7, Vista, XP, or earlier.

Microsoft Defender will only work on devices running on Windows 10 or Windows 11.

Furthermore, connecting Microsoft Defender to multiple devices or running it on non-Microsoft Windows hardware is not possible.

is windows defender good enough

Is Microsoft Defender Good Enough?

If your activities primarily involve offline work and are not internet-intensive or require infrequent file sharing then Windows Defender is good enough for you.

But with Windows Defender’s good enough handling of basic antivirus duties aside, there have been reports that its Malware detection does not provide complete protection compared to other premium antivirus software providers.

Other than that, despite the revamped interface of Windows 11, some may find searching for various protection and antivirus tools not as straightforward.

One more downside of built-in Windows Security tools is that you have to stick to Microsoft products. This means using Microsoft Office 365 instead of Google Workspace and Edge instead of Chrome or Firefox as your default browser.

Relatedly, when I enabled the parental controls, it basically blocked every single browser from working, other than Microsoft Edge.

Like the majority of people on Earth, I use Chrome, but to enable it, I had to go into the settings and manually unblock it. The same is the case with all other non-Microsoft applications including Firefox.

Another downside that surprised me relates to the health check function. Don’t get me wrong, the health check is a helpful feature, but it lacks the option to perform a full system cleanup, and offers no tools to boost the system performance.

In short, compared to third-party antivirus, I found Microsoft Defender seriously lacking the extra features commonly present in paid antivirus programs.

For instance, Microsoft Defender does not include a password manager, a VPN, and identity theft protection.

Hopefully, this answers your question: Is Windows Defender good? If not, read on.

does windows 11 need antivirus software

Do You Need A Third-Party Antivirus For Windows 11?

So, the ultimate question then is, do you need antivirus with windows 11 running alongside Windows Defender?

Well yes. But also no.

There are several factors to consider when determining whether your desktop or laptop needs an antivirus program.

If you’re the only user of your device, only visit reliable websites, and refrain from clicking on dodgy links and downloading corrupt files, then Microsoft Defender probably delivers enough protection for you.

However, if you are looking to beef up security with the following advantages, a third-party security tool will benefit you greatly.

  • Regular database updates
  • Real-time protection
  • Cloud-based updates
  • Built-in firewall
  • Various levels of security shields
  • Compatibility across multiple operating systems
  • Protection against a variety of online threats
  • Easy to use
  • Scheduled scanning
  • Built-in Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Identity monitoring
  • Protection score
  • PC optimization
  • Password manager
  • Parental controls without blocking third-party apps, browsers, and programs
  • Advanced threat protection
  • Connect multiple devices to one antivirus account
  • System cleanup capabilities
  • System performance booster
  • Anti-theft protection
  • Dark web monitoring

Therefore, if you have reached a conclusion that you will benefit from additional antivirus software protection, you’re probably now asking what is the best antivirus for Windows 11.

Best Antivirus Software for Windows 11:

Given there is a bevy of antivirus providers out there but worry not. I have explored the internet to assemble the best Windows 11 antivirus lineup for you.

My best antivirus for Windows 11 are:



BitDefender offers remarkably extensive all-in-one packages that contain every essential element for ensuring comprehensive device security and a safe online browsing encounter.

In addition to an exceptionally elevated degree of defense, these plans possess a VPN, safeguard against identity theft, a device optimization feature, parental controls, and more.

The premium tiers further incorporate safeguards for bank transactions, card security, and even 401K protection.

Most notably, each plan permits you to use BitDefender across a maximum of ten devices, a substantial allocation that typically caters to the needs of an average family.

These plans are accessible starting from $59.99/year, and you have the opportunity to avail of a complimentary 30-day trial period.



Norton boasts a longstanding presence spanning decades, presenting a lineup of exceptional comprehensive packages at highly competitive rates. You hold the option to extend coverage to 5, 10, or even an unrestricted number of devices, complete with a generous allocation of cloud backup storage.

Furthermore, you gain access to parental controls, a school-time functionality (to maintain children’s concentration during online learning sessions), webcam security, safeguard against identity theft, protection against bank and card fraud, alongside a VPN and privacy monitoring.

Adding the finishing touch, Norton offers a 100% virus protection promise.

These plans start at $49.99/year, and you can explore its features free of charge for 7 days.



Kaspersky offers comprehensive premium packages that include an added bonus of a complimentary year of Safekids. This comprehensive parental control suite ensures secure internet browsing for your children while allowing you to monitor their online activities.

Moreover, you gain access to identity safeguarding, a VPN, complete system cleansing and enhancement, as well as remote system assistance for times when you require support.

Plans start at $19.99/year, coupled with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

But if you don’t want spend money on premium antivirus software, Microsoft has introduced many security features in Windows 11 that are the best ones you should enable and configure on your computer.

Best Internet Security Settings For Windows 11:

While Windows 11 stands as the most secure iteration of the OS, you can further enhance your device’s security by implementing personalized settings and adhering to recommended best practices enlisted below.

Here is a collection of the best internet security for Windows 11 in 2023:

  • Install system updates
  • Scan computer for viruses
  • Offline virus scan
  • Enable periodic scanning
  • Enable ransomware protection
  • Check firewall settings
  • Enable Windows Hello Face or fingerprint authentication
  • Enable dynamic lock
  • Block unwanted apps
  • Enable encryption
  • Enable Smart App Control
  • Microsoft Defender Application Guard
  • Enable Core Isolation
  • Windows Sandbox
  • Enable phishing protection
  • Create full backup
  • Switch from Administrator to Standard User account
  • Disable Remote Desktop
  • Sync time and date


Microsoft’s antivirus is good enough, and the tech giant is gradually advancing its efforts to assure watertight protection for its users. However, it remains deficient in terms of threat protection efficacy and comprehensive functionalities.

Furthermore, the restricted adaptability of Microsoft Defender can prove vexing to numerous users. In today’s multi-device landscape, the exclusivity to Windows devices severely constrains its utility.

The trajectory of Microsoft’s antivirus enhancement remains uncertain. Given the nascent stage of Windows 11, we may anticipate forthcoming enhancements.

Meantime, the market boasts several exceptional third-party antivirus software providers, offering their services at reasonable costs. Therefore, if you wish to circumvent the constraints inherent in Microsoft Defender, I suggest considering an alternative option.