Vista's Windows Defender: Using Windows Defender

Vista’s Windows Defender protects Vista against malware, and alerts you to anything suspicious. Plus: improvements in IE7.
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Vista's Windows Defender

Vista's Windows Defender provides continuous security against malware, and if it detects anything suspicious, it will alert you of what it finds. It does this by using three specific tools:

Internet agents Internet agents are used to monitor changes to Internet access settings, as well as to stop unauthorized connection attempts via the network.

System agents System agents are used to monitor changes to your system’s settings, such as passwords and permissions.

Application agents Application agents are used to monitor changes to applications installed on your OS, such as Internet Explorer being modified by downloadable toolbar applications.


Windows Defender is used locally to protect an end user’s Web browsing experience. Windows Defender does not include enterprise management tools.

Windows Defender protects against and removes malware as well as provides control over modifications to software installed on the system. Windows Defender provides real-time monitoring functionality, which means it will always run and keep you protected while you’re using your Windows Vista system. The Windows Vista version of Windows Defender features an updated scanning engine, simplified alerting functionality, multiple-language support, and other enhancements.

Windows Defender provides top-notch spyware detection and removal, and it is connected to an online service that will keep it updated and on top of the latest threat trends. Because malware constantly evolves, so does Windows Defender and its support team.

Using Windows Defender

You can find Windows Defender by opening the WSC and selecting the Windows Defender link. This will invoke the Windows Defender application. If your system is already up-to-date, Windows Defender will report that there is no harmful or unwanted software on your system and that your computer is running normally. If you have not run a scan yet, or your last scan was a while ago, you will be prompted with scan options.

Select the scan option that best suits what you want to do. If you want to perform a quick scan of the most common areas within your system affected by malware, check the Quick scan radio button. If you want to check your entire system, check the Full system scan radio button (note that a full system scan will take far longer to perform than a quick scan). You can also specify which drives or areas of your system you want Windows Defender to scan.

Click on Scan Now to begin a scan.

Once the scan is complete, you can view the report. If anything malicious is found, you will be asked how you want to handle it. (Because this was a quick scan, there still may be an issue with this system, however; a full system scan should be run to verify that the system is in fact free of malicious software.)

By clicking on Tools on top of the Windows Defender dialog box, you can adjust the settings for Windows Defender and select other tools to further secure your system. Once you open the Tools and Settings configuration within Windows Defender, you can change the settings, use Microsoft SpyNet, view quarantined items, use the Windows Defender Software Explorer, set allowed items, and visit and use the Microsoft Windows Defender public Web site.

How to Use the Windows Defender Software Explorer One of the newest and most helpful tools Microsoft has added to Vista and Windows Defender is Software Explorer. Software Explorer provides you with an unfettered view of the software that is currently running on your computer, along with details of each piece. It also helps you monitor programs that are set to start when the computer boots, programs that run in the background or as background processes, and programs that are used to perform low-level network functions (i.e., Winsock service providers).

WINDOWS DEFENDER NOTE To use some Software Explorer options, you must be logged on as Administrator or be a member of the Administrators group.

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