Windows Defender vs. Avast: Which Is Better for You?

Why is this Windows Defender vs. Avast comparison important? People are at risk of getting their computers infected with malware every day. By 2023, hackers will have stolen around 33 billion records, including those that contain personal information. The attacks will only get more frequent, with hackers becoming bolder and smarter. These attacks will also become increasingly complicated.

The first and best way to keep yourself safe is to make sure that you have an excellent security solution. If you have a Windows machine, then you are already using Windows Defender. Should you keep using that, or should you get Avast Free AntiVirus instead?

Windows Defender vs. Avast: Here's How You Choose

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Before delving into the Windows Defender vs. Avast debate, it is helpful to know what makes a security software an excellent tool. Here are the things that you should look for in your security software.

A high rate of detection for malware

It should even be able to prevent new threats known as zero-day vulnerabilities. However, there shouldn't be too many false positives, when safe files are mistakenly tagged as malware.

The good news is that there are independent sources that you can trust for this kind of information. For instance, AVTest ranks the different security products according to how they protect your system, how much it slows down your computer, and how it affects your machine's usability. Similarly, AV-Comparatives also has a monthly report on different security software and their protection features.

Low system load

Your security software is going to eat up some of your computer's resources. You will want to choose an anti-virus program that will not slow down your machine too much.

Little or no effect on usability

An excellent anti-virus program will protect you from online threats you get from the Web, but it should not prevent you from going to sites that are safe. There are times when an anti-virus software will mistakenly block you from visiting a website. There are also times when your security software will wrongly flag a file as malware, or will not allow you to install legitimate programs.

Windows Defender vs. Avast: Which Is Better?

Windows Defender comes preinstalled with your copy of Windows 8.1 and 10. That means that this is the security software you have from the start. Should you continue using Windows Defender, or should you go through the trouble of downloading and installing Avast Free AntiVirus?Let's start this Windows Defender vs. Avast showdown with Microsoft's preinstalled security solution.

Windows Defender

Perhaps, even with you knowing it, Windows Defender is protecting you from threats. How well does this security software protect you from malware and other vulnerabilities?


Windows Defender can hold the fort when it comes to blocking zero-day vulnerabilities. Further, this program can stop all the previously known malware. AV-Test gives Windows Defender a protection score of 5.5 out of 6.0.

The AV-Comparatives November 2018 test, however, shows that the Microsoft software gave out 23 false positives out of 230 test cases. Even with that high number of mistakes, the software did not block all of the threats thrown at it. Around 3.5 percent was able to get past Windows Defender.

How Windows Defender affects your computer

Windows Defender does not seem to slow down your computer's performance. At least not as much as the average antivirus program can. You can launch popular websites, download applications, run a program, and copy files locally or over the network a whole lot faster with Windows Defender than the average security software.

The only problem that Windows Defender encounters is it slows down your computer when you install applications while it is running. This issue prompts AV-Test to lower its performance score to 5.5 out of 6.0.

How Windows Defender affects the usability of your computer

Apart from slowing down your computer, one of the issues when using a lousy security solution is that it gives you a lot of false positives. False positives can hinder you from visiting legitimate websites, or using secure applications. While AV-Comparatives found that Windows Defender had a lot of false positives, the software had only one false positive during AV-Test's testing.

Windows Defender falsely identified one program as malware, out of more than 1.34 million samples. AV-Test is so impressed that they gave this Microsoft software a perfect 6.0 rating.

Security and privacy

When it comes to security and privacy, Windows Defender has an advantage over its competitors. The free product does not have those pesky encouragements to upgrade to a paid product. It also does not use browser extensions. As such, Windows Defender does not need to share your browsing history and behavior with other service providers.

User interface

Microsoft has given the Windows Defender Security Center a makeover. Further, unlike before when the Security Center was composed of different tools developed at different times and having different looks, the current version of the user interface looks more unified and uncluttered. With a minimalist, icon and text-based look, the Security Center now looks better than ever before.

All features of Windows Defender are found at the left side of the dashboard. There are seven different sections for a variety of security features, including virus and threat protection, account protection, firewall, and family options, among others.


Because Windows Defender comes pre-installed with your Windows operating system, you do not have to install it yourself. Plus it is integrated with the other parts of the operating system. However, you cannot remove it even if you do install another security software. If you need help using Windows Defender, you can rely on chat, forums, e-mail, and phone support.


avast logo

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To continue with this Windows Defender vs. Avast comparison, let's move on to the competitor. Avast gives you more than just malware and virus scanning. The free software suite also includes a proprietary browser, password manager, Wi-Fi scanner, and gaming mode. How well does it protect your computer?


Avast gets a protection score of 5.5 out of 6.0 from AV-Test. For October 2018, Avast blocked 99.3 percent of newly-discovered malware attacks and all of the previously known threats.


Running Avast in the background can somewhat slow down your computer and browsing. AV-Test shows that Avast makes popular websites a lot slower to load compared to the industry average. The same happens when you launch your favorite applications.

However, your computer copies files and install applications faster with Avast running in the background, compared to using an average security solution. AV-Test gives Avast a performance score of 5.5 out of 6.0.


According to AV-Test, Avast almost always gets things right. It does not mistakenly block websites, applications, or files. AV-Comparatives agrees, reporting that Avast was able to stop all test cases with only two false positives. Avast has an FP score of 10, far lower and better than the average FP score of 17.


Avast has an additional security-related feature that can keep your wallets safe. The SafeZone secure browser has a Bank Mode that will help keep your financial details safe from malware. However, if you do search within this browser, you should be aware that a third-party company can see your search history and query. You should also know that this software collects your browsing data and then sells it to other companies. The good news is that you can opt out of this set-up after installing Avast.

User interface

Avast makes it very easy for you to know if something is amiss. When you open the Avast interface, it will have a check mark and the words "You're protected" in green. If there are security issues, this screen will show a red X mark. You can also run a Smart Scan from the main screen. This feature will check your system for malware, vulnerabilities, and even weak passwords.

Under the Status tab, you will see the Protection, Privacy, and Performance sections. Each one will allow you to access the software's many features. You can also customize Avast's interface.


It can take a long time to install Avast Free Antivirus for the first time, but it should not exceed 10 minutes. Support is limited to the company's materials, FAQs, knowledge base, and a discussion forum. You cannot e-mail or call the company if you have problems with the software.

Windows Defender vs. Avast: Pros and Cons

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To round up this Windows Defender vs. Avast comparison, you should note that between these two, the latter has more features. Avast does an excellent job of fighting malware and viruses, and it also offers other security services. For instance, it also manages your passwords and scans your Wi-Fi network.

But a Windows Defender vs. Avast comparison is more about how these two programs protect you from threats, and whether it will negatively affect your computer use and experience. These two have similarly easy to use and intuitive user interfaces. Further, according to AV-Test, Avast and Windows Defender get a 5.5, 5.5, and 6.0 for Protection, Performance, and Usability.

Both of these security solutions have problems dealing with zero-day vulnerabilities. Avast can slow down your browsing, file transfers, and application downloads more than Windows Defender. However, Microsoft's software can slow things down when you are installing applications.

Windows Defender also has more false positives, according to AV-Comparatives. Blocking only 99.1 percent of all threats, it mistakenly tagged safe files and sites as malware 106 times in the five months ending November 2018. Avast had a better record, blocking 99.6% of threats while only having 10 false positives.

One area where Avast Free Antivirus falls behind Windows Defender is in customer assistance. Microsoft has a chat, call, and e-mail support that can assist you if you need help. With Avast, you can only rely on the company's resources online. Lastly, Avast shares some of your data to third party companies.

Windows Defender vs. Avast: Which Free Antivirus Should You Have on Your Computer


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In the Windows Defender vs. Avast battle, which one comes up on top? Before we choose, let us say that these security solutions are not the best if you want to make sure you are safe from zero-day vulnerabilities. There are better anti-malware programs out there, such as Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition or Kaspersky Free Antivirus.

With that out of the way, forced to choose between Windows Defender vs. Avast, then it would have to be the latter. Avast Free AntiVirus offers more features that go beyond just blocking malware and malicious stuff. What's more, Windows Defender can make a lot of mistakes tagging websites, files, and applications as malicious.

However, don't snub Windows Defender just yet. It is from Microsoft, and it has continually improved over time. It is also a better choice for those who are not technologically savvy. On top of already being there with your Windows 10 operating system, you can talk to a live person if you do encounter problems.

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