Windows 10 and Virus Protection

Today a client told me that they bought a new laptop with Windows 10 on it over Thanksgiving, and wanted to know what I recommended as far as Antivirus protection for it.  When I was done, I realized that my response would make a good blog post as others often have the same question.

Windows 10 comes with “Windows Defender”, which should be enabled by default.  It is anti-virus and anti-malware, does scheduled scans as well as real-time monitoring, and automatically updates its definitions if left connected to a broadband connection.

Many people (including me) find it sufficient for basic protection, but of course no one antivirus program catches everything – and it doesn’t matter which one you pick.  Sometimes Microsoft will find things that Norton doesn’t and vice versa, though Microsoft tends to a little slower on getting definitions out than some of the paid software (Norton, AVG, Avast, etc.)  So if you plan on surfing websites that are “questionable” or using Bit Torrent to download things, then you will want to use one of the paid programs.

I don’t recommend RELYING on any antivirus software.  It pays to be paranoid, as the scammers and spamming on the net ARE out to get you.

  • Always assume that the virus or Trojan will get past your firewall or AV software.
  • Do regular backups of your data.
  • Make sure that you know where your software AND LICENSE KEYS are in case you need to wipe and reload.
  • Use Microsoft’s System Restore to make periodic backups, and if you have an external hard drive use Backup & Recovery to make backup images periodically.
  • If your laptop didn’t come with DVD’s to reload it, be sure to use the “create media” instructions that came with it to create recovery media. I prefer to create recovery flash drives as opposed to optical discs.

In addition to bring able to recover from a virus, you will also be able to recover from a hard disk failure – something that antivirus WON’T do – as you will have everything necessary to bring the computer back online without losing any data.

If a virus does get through, the easiest way to get rid of most of them is to reboot in safe mode and restore from a recent restore point.  A restore point restoration doesn’t wipe out any of your personal data, and is safe to run if you even SUSPECT that something uninvited has made its way onto your system.

There are also online backup options.   Dropbox, Carbonite, Microsoft One-Drive, etc.  Use of them will depend more on how much data you have and how critical it is.  While I have special software that I use for backing up my servers, I find Dropbox sufficient for my laptops.  It also makes synchronizing data between my laptops and desktops painless.

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