Windows Defender, which is part of the Windows Security Toolkit, is an antivirus application for Windows 10 that comes preinstalled on computers running Windows 10. Its purpose is to protect your system from spyware, malware, and viruses.
Running in the background, Windows Defender monitors your PC in real time and takes cleaning action when it detects security issues. It regularly updates virus definitions to protect your computer.
For those looking for more control over updates, Windows Defender allows users to customize settings if they want to temporarily disable real-time protection or add processes, files, or folders.
You can also run an on-demand scan for individual endpoints. Once you define the parameters for a scan, such as location or type, it will run immediately.
If you click on a suspicious link or want to make sure your computer hasn’t been subjected to malicious activity, you can run an on-demand scan instead of waiting for the scheduled one.
Run Windows Defender Antivirus on your own schedule or on demand at any time. In this article we will discuss:
- Full scan and quick scan
- Quick scan
- Full scan
- Custom Scan
- Offline Scan
- Add or Remove Exceptions
- Scheduling Updates Using the Task Scheduler
- Installing Triggers
- How to find scan results
Full Scan vs Quick Scan
Windows Defender performs two types of scans. Whether you set it up on schedule or on demand, you can choose fast or full scan in the settings.
Quick Scan identifies malicious threats in areas most likely to be attacked, such as memory and shared locations.
A full scan is more thorough and checks every file, folder, task and process on your computer. The more you have on your computer, the longer the scan will take.
You can use your computer during a full scan, but it will take longer and may slow down your system.
Perform a full scan at night when you are not using your computer to avoid interference.
- Start by running the Windows Defender Security application on your Windows 10 PC.
- Find Windows Security in the lower left corner of your desktop. Or you can flip through your apps and click on it.
- Start the Windows Defender Security app on your Windows 10 computer.
- Find Windows Security in the section The bottom left corner of the desktop. Or, you can scroll through and tap your apps.
- This will take you to the Security section.
- This is where you will perform most of your security activities. To manually start an On-demand scan, click Virus & Threat Protection and then Quick Scan.
Most of the scans you will need to do will be quick. Windows will check memory and shared locations where viruses are most likely to get infected. It will also tell you when the scan is complete and identify anything that looks suspicious. You can then remove the malicious content or quarantine it.
Or you can follow any other recommendations to remove or block threats so they don’t harm your computer. If you haven’t updated your antivirus and threat protection settings for a long time, you should do so.
Windows Defender detects threats to your computer using files called definitions. When Microsoft detects new viruses, malware, or spyware, they add them to the list. Click Check for Updates under Virus & Threat Protection Updates.
Having the most up-to-date list will help protect your computer from malicious files that can harm your computer.
It is recommended that you run a full scan periodically, ideally during the night when you are not using your computer. A full scan takes much longer because all processes, folders, tasks and files are scanned.
Follow the steps above to go to the Virus & Threat Protection screen, and then click Scan Settings.
The larger your hard drive, the more memory you have installed, the more applications you have and the more data you have on your computer, the longer this scan will take.
Select “Full Scan” to check all files and processes on your hard drive, and then click “Scan Now”.
If you suspect that a particular file or folder has been compromised, follow the steps above to go to the Advanced Scan screen.
- Select the Custom option. Select the location of the files or folders to check.
- Or you can use the explorer. Find the file you want to scan and right-click it. Select the Scan with Windows Defender option.
Sometimes computers can become infected with malware that is difficult to remove. Before loading the operating system, you will need to download your antivirus in a safe environment.
Windows Defender Offline is an antivirus solution for scanning for malware outside of Windows. Use the offline method if your browser has been jailbroken or a threat has broken your internet connection.
Add or remove exclusions
To exclude a file or folder from scanning, click Manage Settings on the Virus & Threat Protection Settings screen, then scroll down and click Add or Remove Exclusions.
If the exception already exists, you can remove it by clicking Remove Exception.
If a file, process, or folder has been mistakenly identified as a virus, click the + symbol and select the file or folder to exclude from scanning.
- To change the scan start time, enter tasks in the search bar.
- Find and click Task Scheduler.
Schedule updates with Task Scheduler
- To change when running scans, type Tasks into the search bar.
- Select the location and click Task Scheduler .
- With Task Scheduler open, in the upper left corner, open a folder called Task Scheduler Library.
- Click Microsoft and scroll down to Windows.
- Scroll down and click Windows Defender in the left menu to see the schedules you are currently using.
- Double-click Windows Defender Scheduled Scan (shown in the screenshot above). Another window will open with several options. The settings in the pop-up window allow you to customize the criteria for scanning. These settings are called triggers.
Click Triggers and then New to open a new trigger. The following options are available for configuration:
- On schedule
- On startup
- On event
- When creating / modifying a task
- When connecting to a user session
- When disconnecting from a user session
- When locking a workstation
- Unlock at workstation
Choose which trigger you want to use to start the scan from the options above.
The next step is to decide how often you want to run the scan from the following options:
For the “Daily” option, you will be prompted to select a start date and time. If you want to sync all time zones, check the box.
In the advanced settings, you can choose:
- Postpone the task
- Retry the task
- Stop the task
Use these Advanced Settings to specify exactly when and under what circumstances a scan is triggered. Click OK to save the settings.
The new task will now be displayed in the “Trigger” section. You can edit or delete it at any time. If you find that the scan slows down your computer while it is running, set it to night when it is not.
How to find scan results
The results are recorded when you run a Windows Defender scan. To view them, open the Windows Security app by searching for Defender in the Start menu.
- Click Virus & Threat Protection and then Protection History.
- To view only purged or quarantined items, click the Filters drop-down menu. By default, you will see all items that have been blocked, cleaned, or quarantined to prevent them from running on your computer.
- Click Details or the drop-down arrow to view a list of all threats, if any, found on your computer. Select each item to view it. Windows Defender assigns an alert level to threats to help you evaluate each item and decide what to do with it.
- Check the box next to the threat and either remove or restore it. Microsoft recommends that you do not restore anything with a high or severe threat rating.
Windows Defender scans your device regularly to protect it from malicious threats with real-time protection.
As explained above, users can also run on-demand scans and customize the schedule based on the time and frequency that works best for them.