How to Stay Safe in Windows 10 without Using an Antivirus

When acquiring a new computer, you get to ask if it is protected by an antivirus or what type of antivirus is best for protecting the new acquisition. In fact, quite often there is a subtle push by manufacturers to get a certain antivirus. This could come in the form of a pre-installed trial version. Once it reaches its expiry, we tend to panic and seek a premium version rather than risk our computers getting infected and damaged.

Could it be that this is becoming less and less the case with modern Windows OS? How badly do we need a third party antivirus? I don’t think I will totally advise against getting an antivirus for your computer, but with Windows 10 it’s possible to maintain good system health without resorting to a third-party antivirus.

These are the steps and precautions you should use if you choose not to get antivirus software.

Windows Defender is the default and primary source of protection in Windows 10. Maximizing your use of it can be the difference between a well-protected computer and a vulnerable one. From the first time you power up your Windows 10, Windows Defender is on and actively helping to protect your PC by scanning for malware (malicious software), viruses, and security threats. This malware protection uses real-time protection to scan everything you download or run on your PC.

You can know when your PC is up to date when you have all the action points on your Defender window marked with green as shown below.

windows10-windows-defender

Windows Defender needs to be updated regularly to ensure your PC stays safe. You should always check for protection updates for your Windows Defender. Clicking the “Show hidden icons” icon on your taskbar and right-clicking on the Windows Defender icon (A shield) reveals the option to check for security updates.

windows10-updates

The Security and Maintenance screen in Windows 10 is used to inform you of health and maintenance issues. As often as time permits, I check to see how well my computer is doing. With issues divided into security and maintenance, it can help you detect issues with both hardware and software.

In the System window click on “Security and Maintenance” at the low-left corner of the window.

windpws10-system-window

This reveals the “Security and Maintenance” sections as shown below.

windpws10-system-window1

windows10-system-window-securitymaintenace

Expanding these two sections gives some details about the security settings currently operating on the computer. These settings can be changed by clicking “Change Security and Maintenance settings” on the left pane of the window. For maximum protection they should be set as follows just like in the image below:

  • Network Firewall –> On
  • Virus Protection –> On
  • Internet security setting –> OK
  • User Account Control –> On

widows10-system-securitymaintenace

This is a precautionary measure to ensure nothing is slipping by. Browsing through the Internet, we sometimes download or install apps without being fully aware of it. Sometimes some of these may be malicious or may just generally reduce computer safety and health. Using the uninstall feature in Windows comes in handy.

It is important to periodically check the list of programs installed on your computer via the Control Panel, browse the Internet for programs you have installed and are not sure of, and uninstall them as the case may be.

This uninstall feature is located in the Control Panel and can be found by typing “control panel” in the search box on the taskbar. Once the control panel window opens, navigate to “Uninstall a program.” This opens a window showing programs installed on your computer. And by right-clicking on any program and selecting “Uninstall,” the program is uninstalled.

windows10-uninstall-program

This goes without saying: “Install only what you trust.” Since a large chunk of what you do on your computer is going to be dependent on the Internet, you must install only software that you trust and have purposefully come into contact with.

The same goes for running an application, or an executable file. If you received an attachment file from an unknown source or downloaded a file from the Web, do not run it if you don’t trust it. This way you reduce the risk of inviting malicious software to your computer.

Let me conclude by saying that the last step in maintaining good computer health and staying safe is repeating all the processes over and over. There isn’t really just one thing you do and hands off. Routine checks and updates throughout the lifespan of your computer system are the ultimate protection you need.

5 comments

  1. That is what I was doing on my laptop but then I noticed that that when typing words the display was slow. I went to Google to browse for antivirus program but did not load anything. I forgot to unplug PC ,battery is dead, and next morning my entry password on PC had been changed. About month later I received call from a number the person said they were from Microsoft and I needed to contact them about my Microsoft account to keep it. HAVEN’T called yet.

    • Don’t call back that number. Microsoft wouldn’t call you. It is one of many scams going around. Either contact manufacturer, reputable pc repair store or knowledgeable friend to help you out.

  2. It’s an old trick maybe no longer necessary, but I still use it… I set up two accounts on my computers… The first is the admin acct…. I use that for computer maintenance, updating, really careful stuff, etc… The second is a local limited user acct. where I do all my day to day work and play… Nothing can auto install there and when I do install stuff it asks if I really want to and requires admin. authentication, which gets me really thinking about what is being installed… And of course anti-virus and malware apps and ad blockers in my browsers… I hope that’s helpful.

  3. Been using windows defender for the last couple of years with malwarebytes premium. Great combo as they don’t conflict and don’t hog resources. Never had an issue.

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