Kharmela Mindanao

By: Kharmela Mindanao on September 22nd, 2021

Print/Save as PDF

Is Windows Firewall Enough in 2021? (Pros & Cons of Windows Defender)

Cybersecurity | Microsoft 365

Are you wondering if you should use Windows Defender? Does settling for the default option leave a bad taste in your mouth? Before writing it off, learn about the pros & cons of Defender and decide if Windows Firewall is enough in 2021. 


Leaving things to run on default without triple-checking can bring anxiety to some people, especially when it comes to keeping your technology safe. That’s why trusting the default antivirus program on Windows machines feels like a trap.

We understand. Just because it’s the default that doesn’t mean you’re going to do less research!

Microsoft Defender Antivirus (commonly referred to simply as Windows Defender) is the default antivirus program of Windows. It was first released as a downloadable free anti-spyware program for Windows XP and was later shipped with Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Now, it has evolved into a full antivirus program, replacing Microsoft Security Essentials, as part of Windows 8 and later versions.

Windows Firewall is one aspect of this program. Reports back in 2016 revealed that it’s not consistent in the protection it gives - but what about in 2021? Is it now the best antivirus program?

To help you with those questions, here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of using Windows Defender:

PROS OF WINDOWS DEFENDER CONS OF WINDOWS DEFENDER
Improved consistency in antivirus tests  Lacks integrated dashboard for all devices using Windows Defender 
Free and built-in for Microsoft devices  No accountability if the computer is infected by malware 
Unobtrusive software  Limited features for large scale use
Ease of use  Slows down installation of frequently-used applications 
Comprehensive features for home use  

In this article, we'll discuss what each pro and con means for using Windows Defender, and the performance of Windows Defender in 2021. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to know the pros and cons of Windows Defender, and if you should use it for your company.  

Pros of Windows Defender

  • Improved consistency in antivirus tests 
  • Free and built-in for Microsoft devices 
  • Unobtrusive software 
  • Ease of use 
  • Comprehensive features for home use 

Improved consistency in antivirus tests 

Anti Virus Software

According to the antivirus test website, AV-test.org, Windows Defender Version 4.18 showed a 100% detection and prevention rate of malware - a strong improvement from the 2016 version. This version of Windows Defender is the latest one installed in Microsoft devices, but security updates are rolled out frequently and need to be updated. 

Free and built-in for Microsoft devices 

Microsoft devices using Windows 8 and above have Windows Defender pre-installed into their OS. This is a great benefit for those who don’t want to go and download new antivirus software for their workstation.  

This also helps users protect their system right off the bat. They won’t have to worry about being unprotected when they set up their workstation.  

Unobtrusive software 

Windows Defender runs in the background. It doesn’t have any big icons that take up your screen while protecting your computer from security threats. It also doesn’t take up a lot of processing power on your computer.  

Ease of use 

It’s already there when you install your Windows OS, and the screen showing the services is really straightforward. The format is intuitive, and making specialized settings for your firewall is easy to understand.  

Comprehensive features for home use 

Working from Home

It has the standard features for people who use their computers for personal use. It comes with virus & threat protection, firewall & network protection, App & browser control, family options, and device performance & health statistics.  

And for most of the population of light computer and internet users, these features (along with other security practices like spam & cybercrime awareness), are enough to protect your PC from malicious intent.  

Cons of Windows Defender

  • Lacks integrated dashboard for all devices using Windows Defender 
  • No accountability if the computer is infected by malware
  • Limited features for large scale use  
  • Slows down installation of frequently-used applications 

Lacks integrated dashboard for all devices using Windows Defender 

While Windows Defender is a good choice for personal computers, it lacks a dashboard that allows you to monitor all devices underneath a network. This limits its functionality for large-scale use and forces companies to look elsewhere for better network control. 

No accountability if a computer is infected by malware 

Computer infected with Malware

Unlike other antivirus programs, Microsoft explicitly states in their terms and conditions that they are not liable for any virus or malware that infects your computer. The lack of accountability can be off-putting for some users.  

Limited features for large scale use  

Aside from not having an integrated dashboard for all devices, Windows Defender also lacks other features for large-scale use that other antivirus programs have. It’s finicky to make special allowances for some users, advanced features for more advanced users are not as easy to access,  phishing protection is limited to Microsoft web browsers (unless you use an extension for others).  

Slows down installation of frequently-used applications 

Computer Slow DownWindows Defender, on a standard PC, slows down the installation of frequently-used applications by 35%. The slowing down of installation is important to know if speed is the highest factor in your satisfaction with using a PC.  

About to secure your PC with Windows Defender?  

Remember that Windows Defender is the default antivirus program of Windows and that it has the following pros and cons:  

PROS OF WINDOWS DEFENDER 

  • Improved consistency in antivirus tests 
  • Free and built-in for Microsoft devices 
  • Unobtrusive software 
  • Ease of use 
  • Comprehensive features for home use 

CONS OF WINDOWS DEFENDER 

  • Lacks integrated dashboard for all devices using Windows Defender 
  • No accountability if the computer is infected by malware 
  • Limited features for large scale use  
  • Slows down installation of frequently-used applications 

Bottom line: If you’re on a Windows computer, you should take advantage of what you already have.  Windows Defender has good features for personal use in 2021. However, it should not be the only security software or practice you implement on your machine, especially if you’re using your PC for work purposes.  

At ITS, we’ve noticed clients who need more information about protecting their company’s network. We have a dedicated learning center with articles about cybersecurity for you;  

after all, it’s no longer enough to have only an antivirus program installed. Read “How to Protect your Company’s Network (& Why Antivirus isn’t Enough)” to learn more about protecting your company.          

New call-to-action