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Windows Defender Guide

Windows Defender Installation

Installing Windows Defender is a quick and easy process. After ensuring that your system meets minimum system requirements, follow the installation instructions below.

System Requirements

To install Windows Defender, your system must meet the minimum requirements listed below.

  • Personal computer with an Intel Pentium 233-megahetz (MHz) or higher processor, Pentium III recommended.
  • Operating System: Windows Vista (Already included), Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later, or Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 or later.
  • 64 megabytes (MB) of RAM (minimum); 128 MB RAM (recommended).
  • 20 MB of available hard disk space.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later.
  • Internet access with at least a 28.8 Kbps connection.
  • Windows Installer version 3.1 or higher. Visit the Microsoft Download Center to download the installer..

Installing Windows Defender

After ensuring that minimum system requirements are met, you are ready to install the application. Windows Defender and on-going updates are available for no additional charge to Windows customers.

Windows Vista

If you are using Windows Vista, you already have Windows Defender, although it might be turned off if you have Antivirus security software installed. To find out if Windows Defender is turned off, click on the Windows Vista Start button and type in “Windows Defender”.

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If Defender is turned off, you can turn it back on by clicking the ‘Turn on and open Windows Defender’ link.

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If you are running a valid copy of Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, follow the steps below to download and install Windows Defender:

  • Visit the Windows Defender page in the Microsoft Download Center. Click the Continue button and follow the directions on the following pages to download the program and start the Installation Wizard.
  • Read the end-user license agreement (EULA) terms and click “next” to accept and install, or “cancel” to exit
  • Follow the steps in the Installation Wizard. You will be asked if you want to participate in the Microsoft SpyNet online community. We suggest you choose the first option, Use recommended settings.

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Join the SpyNet community to help defend computers from unwanted software.

Note: SpyNet is a community that brings Windows Defender users together to identify and share information about spyware. This community reports potential threats identified by the Windows Defender real-time system agents to the SpyNet servers, which catalog and update the system to help protect you from new spyware threats. The SpyNet community collects information, such as the file name and the action that the community chose to take (to block or allow) in a report about the file in question. When Windows Defender sends the report to the SpyNet Community it also sends standard computer information, such as your region and language setting. No personal information is collected.

  • Click Next to continue.
  • Click Install to begin installing Windows Defender.
  • When installation is complete, you should see the page displayed below. Click Finish. The Check for updated definitions and run a quick scan now check box is selected by default to run a scan when exiting the Installation wizard. Windows Defender will now begin to scan your computer.

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Opening the Windows Defender Interface

The Installation wizard installs Windows Defender as a Windows service. As a service, Windows Defender protects you from the moment you start your computer, even when not logged on. In addition, it protects all users, including users that are not administrators. The service runs silently in the background to provide you with real-time protection even when the user interface is closed. To control the service and change the general settings, you must open the user interface.

To open Windows Defender:

  • Click the Start button, and then point to All Programs. Click Windows Defender.

Configuring Windows Defender

Windows Defender will install preconfigured with the most typical user settings for simplification. Advanced users can modify these default settings at any time in the General Settings. The General Settings include:

  • Automatic scanning
  • Default actions
  • Real-time protection options
  • Advanced options
  • Administrator options

To modify Windows Defender configuration options:

  • Click the Tools button, and then click General Settings.
  • Select your desired settings, and then click Save.

The Home page is the first screen that appears when Windows Defender starts. It provides access to the most commonly used features and displays critical summary information as seen in Figure 5 below.


Windows Defender Home Page

Figure 5 – Windows Defender Home Page


Windows Defender Feature Access

On the upper left side of the screen, there is a toolbar that provides access to Windows Defender functionality. The toolbar has a forward arrow, a back arrow, and five buttons that enable navigation through the various features. The buttons provide access to the most important functionality, including:

  • Home. The Home button returns you to the Home page.
  • Scan. The Scan button performs a quick scan. By clicking the Scan arrow, you have the option of starting a quick scan, full scan, or a custom scan.
  • History. The History button provides access to the History page. The History page also provides access to the Quarantined Items and Allowed Items pages.
  • Tools. The Tools button provides access to the Tools page. The Tools page also provides access to the General Settings, Quarantined items, Allowed Items, Microsoft SpyNet, and Software Explorer screens, as well as the Windows Defender Web site.
  • Help. The Help button launches Windows Defender help. By clicking the Help arrow, you can view help contents, help search, Windows Defender privacy statement, about Windows Defender, or exit the application.

To learn more about Windows Defender’s features, take a look at the demo.

Message Center

The message center located in the middle of the screen displays Windows Defender status messages. If Windows Defender requires your attention, a warning appears for each item that needs your attention. When Windows Defender discovers spyware, a warning appears listing all items that require an action. The warning allows you to remove all, or look at each threat independently.


The Status Area

The Status area occupies the bottom of the screen and provides a quick view of your computer’s spyware status. The list of status items in the status area includes:

  • Last Scan. This item shows the last time Windows Defender ran a spyware scan and the type of scan. In order to minimize spyware intrusion, manually run a spyware scan weekly or use the automatic scanning option.
  • Scan Schedule. This item shows the automatic scanning configuration from your general settings. The default configuration is to scan daily at 2:00 A.M.
  • Real-time Protection. This item shows the real-time protection status. This provides continuous spyware protection by guarding against spyware that attempts to install on your computer.
  • Spyware Signatures. This item provides the current spyware definitions’ version, creation date and time.
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