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How to Schedule a Scan in Windows 8 Defender


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Understand the Task at Hand
Windows Defender user interface.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Robert Kingsley

While many users were unquestionably delighted to hear that Windows 8 has a bundled antivirus solution, the fact that the software in question is Windows Defender may have tempered the celebrations a bit. Defender is not an unfamiliar name to Windows users, anyone with a Microsoft OS since Vista will be familiar with the lightweight malware scanner. But Microsoft would have to be crazy to ask you to trust your system's security to such a basic antimalware tool…or would they?

A More Robust Defender

Windows 8's Defender is not the lightweight spyware scanner you remember. Microsoft has overhauled it with the virus scanning capabilities of Microsoft Security Essentials making it a viable option to protect your system from all manner of web-based threats.

Windows Defender's primary task is to protect your system in real-time. It runs in the background and scans files as you download, open, transfer and save them to ensure that everything appears safe. While it aims to prevent threats before they end up on your hard drive, it isn't perfect. To give yourself a better shot at safety you'll want to schedule a recurring scan to check for malware on a regular basis.

You Can't Schedule Scans from the Defender Interface

Any user of any antivirus will be familiar with scheduling virus scans, but Windows Defender makes it a bit of a challenge. You'll likely notice if you poke around Defender's interface that there are no options to schedule a scan listed anywhere. You may think that means Defender doesn't support this feature, but that isn't the case. You just have to use the Task Scheduler.

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