Windows computers have a built-in tool to guard against viruses and malware. It’s called Microsoft Defender, or Windows Security, and it offers an unifying experience for managing antivirus, firewall and performance features. It also lets you monitor the device’s health, and protects your data with password management and hardware encryption. Installing an antivirus program from a third party will disable the Microsoft Defender Antivirus engine, but it won’t affect the capabilities of Windows Security itself.

One of the most significant features of Windows Security is Microsoft Defender’s real-time protection. This feature will scan the entire system, blocking and identifying malicious software in real-time while it runs. It also has the ability to identify and restore malicious applications that it’s incorrectly blocked. It’s important to keep in mind that the Microsoft Defender scanner relies on cloud and online malware definitions, which could cause it to fall behind paid competitors in virus and malware detection rates in a few cases.

Windows Security also offers User Account Control. This feature blocks the screen until an administrator confirms the change. It will notify you when someone or something tries to alter the settings of your system. It also allows you to choose the frequency at which the center will run a background check and check for updates.

Windows Security allows you to create backups using the Microsoft OneDrive folder, and even erase your hard disk and begin afresh. It’s an effective method to keep your computer’s operating system and your personal data secure and it’s a great alternative for those who don’t want to pay for a security program that isn’t included.