Windows Defender is a computer program designed to rid spyware from the Windows operating system. This program is developed and maintained by Microsoft and is available for free to all Windows users. You don’t even have to download anything to use the program – if you’re a Windows 7 user it’s already installed on your machine. You just need to turn it on and get it configured properly to let Windows Defender start protecting your computer the way it was designed to.
Open the “Windows Defender” icon in your computer’s Control Panel. If you’ve never used Windows Defender before, you will likely get a message indicating that the software has been turned off. Click once on the button that reads “Click here to turn it on” to enable Windows Defender on your computer.
Click the button reading “Scan” at the top of the screen to perform a “Quick Scan” of your computer for spyware. Note that a “Quick Scan” is not as thorough as a “Full Scan,” but it will still check directories where spyware is most likely to reside. To perform a full scan of your computer, click the arrow to the right of the “Scan” button and select “Full Scan” from the list of options.
Click the “History” button to view a list of all the files that have ever been identified as spyware on your computer. Any files that are picked up in a scan will automatically be quarantined and separated from the rest of your machine. This is to prevent these files from executing, which in turn could damage your computer. Click on the name of an identified spyware file to find out more information about that particular strain of malware.
Click “Tools” to bring up a list of options pertaining to the way Windows Defender operates. Click “Options” in this window if you want to exclude certain directories from a scan, or change the way a scan generally operates. Click “Quarantined Items” to permanently remove any files that were identified in the “History” tab from your machine. Click “Allowed Items” to view a list of all the software on your computer that you have previously chosen to have Windows Defender ignore.
Update your Windows Defender spyware definitions by running the “Windows Update” utility. This utility, found in the “All Programs” folder, will also update the rest of the first-party software on your computer. Be sure to run “Windows Update” regularly and especially before performing scans to make sure that your computer stays as protected as possible.