In addition to antivirus, it manages Windows Firewall, SmartScreen Filter, and Microsoft’s parental control system, and it also helps with PC health and performance issues.
That doesn’t mean it’s now a security suite, by any means. In fact, while its lab test scores have improved, it still doesn’t come close to challenging the best third-party solutions—even the free ones.
That’s not to say the upgrades aren’t beneficial. Ransomware is a huge worry these days, and Microsoft has put a simple kind of ransomware protection right into Windows Defender. It’s not turned on by default, however, and it’s hard to find. Dig into the antivirus settings, find the setting called Controlled Folder access, and turn it on.
Once activated, this feature prevents unauthorized programs from making any changes to files in your Documents, Videos, Movies, Music, and Favorites folders, and you can add to the list of protected folders. Bit defender, Panda Free Antivirus, and Trend Micro do almost exactly the same thing; Panda goes a bit further, preventing unauthorized programs from even reading protected documents.
If ransomware attempts to encrypt those files, Windows Defender stops it and displays a warning. The same thing happens if you use an uncommon program to edit your documents or photos. I demonstrated that in testing by using a text editor that I wrote myself.