Avast vs Windows Defender: Which antivirus is best among the two

Abeerah Hashim Last updated: January 9, 2023 Read time: 13 minutes Disclosure

Read this in-depth Avast versus Windows Defender comparison to decide whether it's a good idea to ditch Microsoft's inbuilt antivirus or not.

Avast is one of the oldest antimalware available in the market that became popular among users for its free availability. But later, Microsoft’s Windows Defender surfaced online as a rival service offering similar protection at no cost. Avast’s strengths include free availability with other paid options, low-cost subscriptions, multiple scan functions, and low resource consumption. But it lags behind Microsoft Defender in that it has a low detection rate and shows ads – both of which are absent with Defender, making it a preferable option for regular Windows users. This guide tells a head-to-head comparison between Avast and Windows Defender.

If you use Windows as your regular operating system, you know that antivirus software is not optional. Seriously, unless you keep the device in question offline permanently (which is unthinkable), the lack of a good antivirus suite will take away your ownership over the system in a matter of hours or less. That brings us to the next problem, of course: what is the antivirus software that you should choose?

You can choose between free versions or paid ones. Microsoft provides Windows Defender pre-installed, as you probably know already. However, very few users consider that Windows Defender alone can keep their systems safe enough without the help of additional software.

Consequently, most users will search for options in the antivirus market. The market includes free versions as well as paid ones, and Avast is prominent among them. In this in-depth Windows Defender and Avast comparison, we help you decide which antivirus is better for you today.

Avast versus Windows Defender, head to head

Microsoft introduced Windows Defender as a comprehensive antivirus solution for Windows, starting with Windows 7. In the latest Windows versions, it’s an inbuilt feature. Obviously, Microsoft didn’t add this feature just because it had spare engineers to keep busy. Nevertheless, it forces a few questions to mind.

Is Windows Defender good enough to keep you safe from malware? Do I need antivirus software other than Windows Defender? Are there better options out there?

This guide will answer all those questions. Then, we will explore Windows Defender with some detail and write about Avast because many Windows users seem to like it very much. Last but not least, we will review Avast antivirus and Windows defender head to head. So let’s start at the beginning by having a look at Windows Defender’s primary features.

Windows Defender

Windows Defender provides real-time security against malware and virus. It’s an application running in the background that aims to provide Windows users with a basic degree of safety against harmful software.

Unfortunately, it comes by default with Windows, and you can’t get rid of it unless you install a different antivirus suite. It’s good that Microsoft saw at last how insecure Windows is and tried to provide something of a solution, jejune as it is. Let’s look at it, nevertheless.

Windows Defender’s strengths

  • Resource efficiency. Most antivirus solutions are pretty resource-intensive. They suck up a lot of memory, space, and computing power. Windows Defender has an advantage over the competition in this regard: it’s developed in-house by Microsoft, so it’s inbuilt into Windows instead of being a separate solution. Thus, it’s more efficient than any antivirus suite. But is it better?
  • Friendliness. Several reasons make Windows Defender a trendy choice among Windows users. You don’t need to move a finger to install it for a start. But also, it’s very simple. The setup process is straightforward. A minimal amount of intervention on the users’ part ensures smooth functioning. Windows Defender is ready to use out-of-the-box as soon as Windows is functional. Any other solution needs some initial setup.
  • Find my device. Windows Defender enables you to build a connection with your device. This is a wonderful feature that allows you to locate your hardware if it’s lost. As a user, you will also lock the data you deem more sensitive or have it deleted if the computer is stolen.
  • Parental control. Internet access for children is a nightmare for many parents globally, which is why this feature in Windows Defender is excellent. You can check any minor user’s screen time and closely follow the content they’re consuming. Additionally, there’s an automatic timer so you can limit the child’s screen time.
  • File scrutiny. File analysis in Windows Defender is automatic, quick, and efficient, so it keeps the system very alert regarding malware attacks. It will let you know every time that a file is deleted because of its potential as a threat.
  • Automated updates. A significant security weakness for Windows in the past was the update process. The data was always there, but very few users took the time to keep their computers current. Updates for Windows Defender are automatic, and they do not need a reboot to work correctly. Also, the new cloud-based malware database makes the institutional response to new threats much more agile than in the past.
  • Firewall. Firewalls are the first level of protection against malware; they keep the attacks at bay. They check every connection to the exterior and restrict unapproved entries.

Those features are there, and we would very much like to say that they’re good enough to keep your computer safe. But, alas, we can’t. Unfortunately, not everything about Windows Defender is peachy, and we have to tell you about its limitations too.

Windows Defender weaknesses

  • Malware detection scope. While there’s no doubt that the latest Windows Defender scope on malware and virus detection is the best that Microsoft has ever offered, the fact remains that it’s thoroughly inferior to other solutions. It can be good enough against malicious attacks, and it will keep your web browsing and email safe enough. But you will remain vulnerable to ever more frequent ransomware events and other attacks. Windows Defender is still not a comprehensive solution, and it remains to be seen if it will ever be. So, as long as it’s your only protection against digital wrongdoers, you are still easy prey to them.
  • New definitions updates. Updating the latest virus definitions in Windows Defender remains a manual download. This is a huge problem. I’ve already mentioned how the lack of automated updates for Windows in the past played a significant role in the system’s security failures. Most third-party antivirus suites will automatically download and install new virus definitions in the background without you even noticing. But in Windows Defender, you have to do it yourself. And, if the past is any guide, most users won’t.
  • Lack of unified alerts. Windows Defender does not provide you with any historical records, so the results or details of previous scans are never available for you to see.
  • Oversimplification. Yes, I said that Defender’s simplicity was a good thing. Still, it can be so simple indeed that it limits your options for customization, thus preventing an effective all-around protection scheme from being deployed.
  • Scanning speeds. File scanning in Windows Defender is the slowest of any antivirus suite in the market. While that could be one of the reasons it’s so efficient in terms of resources, speed is sometimes necessary.

So there, you have a panoramic view of Windows Defender as an antivirus solution. Let’s now turn our attention towards a different product that can give Windows Defender a run for its money. We refer, of course, to Avast antivirus protection.


Avast Software is the company behind the Avast antivirus suite, available in macOS, Android, and Windows versions.