How to use Windows Security to protect your PC

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For many years, Windows users have had to rely on a third-party security tool to protect against viruses and malware, but now the Microsoft operating system comes with its own suite in the form of Windows Security.

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It’s designed to run quietly and efficiently in the background, and you may not even notice its presence, but it’s important to know how it keeps your computer secure and what different options it gives you.

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While you can add additional security software to Windows if you wish, Windows Security should keep you well protected from dangers. You can open it from the start menu or by clicking its icon in the notification area.

How to find the way

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Windows Security provides an overview of the state of your system.

Microsoft via David Neild

Open the main Windows Security Control Panel and you should see a grid of icons with reassuring green checkmarks next to them – if something needs your attention, these checkmarks will be replaced by yellow exclamation marks. You can click on any of the grid items starting from Virus and Threat Protection to Protection historyto jump to the corresponding section within the app.

The navigation bar on the left gives you another way to navigate between different parts of Windows security: House an option is one that you can return to if you need to return to the main toolbar. Choose Account protectionfor example, for settings related to your Microsoft account and how you sign in to Windows on your computer (including face and fingerprint recognition, if available).

Firewall and network protection here you can control the firewall installed around Windows for devices on your local network and from the point of view of the wider Internet. If you choose to install a third-party security suite, Windows Security can also monitor this and make sure everything is working correctly – if the firewall is not active, you will see a warning on the screen.

Choose Settings from the left navigation bar to configure various aspects of Windows security: this mainly concerns the notifications that the program displays and any third-party security software you have installed. You can also click Protection history See here to see what Windows Security has been up to lately, whether it’s virus scanning or security alerts.

Performing a Virus/Malware Scan

Windows Security scans in the background while you use your device.

Microsoft via David Neild

As for proactively securing and protecting your computer from threats, Virus and Threat Protection The Windows Security section is a place worth visiting. As with the rest of the software, most of the features here will run in the background, but it’s good to know what’s available and what you can do if you find something fishy.

Click Quick scan if you suspect that your computer may have been compromised – for example, if you downloaded and opened an email attachment that you shouldn’t have. The quick scan will look for the most obvious threats and malware on your system and it won’t take long to complete. You will be able to monitor the progress of the scan while it is running and continue working on your computer during the scan.

Choose Scan Options to start other types of scans. There is Full Scan an option that is more complete than a quick scan and can take over an hour, while Custom scan allows you to focus your scans on specific folders if you think you know where a particular threat might be. Finally you will see Offline Scan an option that takes about 15 minutes and can remove the most persistent types of malware.

You don’t have to worry about scheduling virus/malware scans because Windows Security takes care of it all for you. Click Settings management under Virus and threat protection settings make sure that real time protection option enabled: this ensures that the program is actively running in the background to detect security threats before they can do any damage to your system.

Other Windows security features

Windows security also takes care of device maintenance.

Microsoft via David Neild

If you choose App and browser management in the navigation bar on the left side of the Windows Security window, you can set the software to scan any applications you download and install. this functionality is here.

Choose Device Security to access some of the more advanced security settings for your system. If your computer supports technologies such as secure boot (scanning for threats at system startup) and trusted platform module (which makes it very difficult to fake data on your system), you will see them here. There are no settings to work with, but you can see if the features are present and working properly.

Then there is Device performance and health a page showing how Windows security goes beyond real security. Here you can see reports about the internal memory and battery of the device you’re running Windows on and access what Microsoft calls New start process – this resets many of your system settings without affecting any of your files or applications you have installed.

family options screen is useful if you have kids using Windows: you can set parental controls covering everything from when a device can be used to what content can be accessed. This works in conjunction with Microsoft Family Safety tools that you can access through a browser and that can span multiple devices using the same Microsoft account.

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