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  • Antivirus in Windows 8.1

    Posted on October 22nd, 2013 at 09:35 woody 40 comments

    I steadfastly recommend and use Microsoft’s built-in Microsoft Security Essentials on all of my machines, including my main machine, which is running Windows 8.1.

    Many of your disagree, though, particularly in light of Microsoft saying that MSE isn’t expected to lead the pack in new protection.

    With that as prelude, EP just sent this to me:

    Hey Woody. Now that Windows 8.1 is officially out there’s one serious issue that has to be dealt with – Antivirus/antispyware programs and Windows 8.1 compatibility. 

    Spybot Search & Destroy version 2.2 is fully compatible with Windows 8.1 as announced here: http://www.safer-networking.org/2013/new-spybot-2-2-to-support-windows-8-1/

     Avira antivirus programs version 2014 (the newly released ones) are compatible with Windows 8.1 as noted here: http://www.avira.com/en/support-for-business-knowledgebase-detail/kbid/1495

    But the 2013 and earlier versions of Avira are not Win8.1 compatible. At least this time, Avira isn’t late to the party for Win8.1.

    Avast starting with version 9.0.2006 is fully compatible with Windows 8.1 as I saw somewhere in their forums site. The 2014 version of AVG is also Win8.1 compatible.

    Most major antivirus/antispyware products (like Symantec, Mcafee and ESET) have been recently updated to fully work on Windows 8.1 though some haven’t made official announcements on their web sites for Windows 8.1 compatiblity.


    40 responses to “Antivirus in Windows 8.1”

    1. I have been using Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes. I would like feedback on the suggestion someone who works in antivirus,etc. security software, said on the radio on a computer show, that it’s a good idea to use more than one antivirus,etc. program and said that
      Kaspersky had good products. Woody and readers,
      what’s your experience and opinions, please?

    2. @Sanda -

      Suggestion: don’t listen to radio computer shows.

      MSE is fine. Kaspersky is fine. AVG is fine. ESET is fine. But you can’t run two of them (in real-time scanning mode) simultaneously.

      I still recommend MSE, with an occasional run of Malwarebytes, if something looks fishy.

    3. Please clarify…the difference between MSE and Windows Defender. Which do you recommend for Windows 8? I heard (not on a radio show) MSE was not supported by 8. Thanks!

    4. Sandra, let me expand on what Woody said: Run one good antivirus program at all times. Having two antiviruses running in real time at the same time is like hiring two bouncers who hate one-another to guard your pub: they end up beating one-another silly. What often happens is, they discover one-another’s virus code sample dictionaries, and say “Wow, I found a huuuuge virus!” and knock each other out.

      So, once a month if you’re fearful, twice a year if you’re mellow, unplug from the Net, boot into safe mode (if you’re using XP), and run Malware Bytes or one of the other free, reliable antivirus programs. That way, you’re double-filtering on occasion. With a little luck, they’ll complement one another: one will cancel out the other’s weaknesses.

      NB: I flat-out don’t trust Microsoft, and I don’t want them to glom one more software market (since the US gov didn’t do squat to end MS’s monopolizing so many portions of the software industry) so I’m an Avira user despite Avira’s annoying nag screen on the free version.

      And Woody and I would agre, I think, that you should avoid Norton-Symantec antivirus, the do-nothing software hog. It’s like hiring a sumo wrestler to thread needles for you: he can’t do the job, but he eats up all your resources.

    5. @Sethness.
      Running MBAM in Safe Mode will do nothing for your safety or trying to catch malware.

      MBAM was and still is designed to run in Normal mode where it is most efeective. It will still work in safe mode But, will not be at it’s best.

      A good cleaning with CCleaner once a week (if you do allot of surfing and installing), a thourough scanning with both MSE (or your favorite A/V) and MBAM will keep you running free of malware unless you like to take chances and delv on the dark side of the net.

      A few good addons like AdBlock Plus , WOT (Web of Trust) and QFX’ KeyScrambler plus a good browser which is configured the proper way should keep your PC running smoothly.

      I used to be an advocate for Avira (and still am) but, have been using MSE and MBAM since their Beta and have yet to get into anykind of trouble.

      I will say that AVg is likely to be as good as an open tap. Don’t trust it at all and have cleaned up quite a few PC with it installed.

    6. Didn’t Avira just get their home page hacked? I also heard ESET lost some customer info. I ran SUPERAntiSpyware until it identified itself as a trojan and quarantined its .exe file. Deleted then couldn’t reinstall it. Tried TrendMicro’s Housecall until it started crashing after a few months. Before that when I ran a full scan it took 30 hours and then wouldn’t stop. None of them inspire me with a lot of confidence. I stick with MSE and Malwarebytes; AFAIK I have never been infected, but then again I try to practice safe browsing (Firefox with WOT, NoScript, RequestPolicy etc.)

      I like my Vista, but for online banking I use Puppy Linux on a live DVD. With no antivirus.

    7. @Jim -

      At this point, “Windows Defender” is just the name for the Windows 8 version of Microsoft Security Essentials. Things used to be different, but that’s how it is in Win8.

    8. Woody,

      Re/ your comment that “Many of your disagree, though, particularly in light of Microsoft saying that MSE isn’t expected to lead the pack in new protection.”

      Could you provide a link to that statement of Microsoft’s? The statement should probably be taken in context, so it would be nice to know that that context is.

      Many thanks for your great work.


    9. @Marty -

      Good point. Here’s a balanced view at what was actually said:


    10. Hello
      I have upgraded from Windows 8 to 8.1. I tried to download Windows Defender Offline but got an error message indicating that it would not work with my operating system. Is there a work-around or is there an update to WDO needed?
      (PS Windows 8 all-in-one is a very helpful book)

    11. @John -

      I don’t know why WDO won’t work with Windows 8.1, but it doesn’t. Yet.

    12. I use MSE & Spybot on Win7 with native firewall, no problems. I used to use AVG Free before MSE arrived. Now I often wonder if I should get a ‘better’ AV as MSE always seems to come near the bottom of the list in magazine reviews of AV (both free and paid for). Woody, have always been a fan of your books and came here to find out if you still think MSE good enough given the latest press. Glad to hear you still use it, so if MSE is good enough for you, then it’s good enough for me. (Was almost tempted to go back to AVG but won’t now I’ve read Athlonites’ comment, thanks!)

    13. @Janbird -

      MSE is fine. It’s not the #1 award-winner, but it’s good enough for just about everybody. And, yep, I use MSE on all of my systems, with an occasional run of Malwarebytes.

    14. @woody

      I have just upgraded a computer to 8.1, I installed AVG (free) and then I added lavasoft’s Ad-Aware in second defense mode. No problems with them going at each other as of this time.

      It seems to me that all the big players are 8.1 compatible at this time imo.

    15. “Você não pode usar o Microsoft Security Essentials com o Windows 8.1, mas nem precisa – o Windows Defender já está incluído e pronto para ser usado.”

      Fonte: windows.microsoft.com/pt-br/windows/security-essentials-download

    16. Athlonite..You may wish to clarify exactly what CCleaner does. By default CCleaner erased ALL system restore points. I never recommend that software because of that very thing.

    17. Hello i would like to ask does Windows Defender has a schedual scan and update itself ?on windows 8.1

    18. @Replay -

      Windows Defender updates itself, no matter what setting you have for Automatic Update. That’s OK – screw-ups with Defender are few and far beetween.

    19. 30/12/2013
      I have recently upgraded my Dell Inspiron laptop to Windows 8.1. My Norton antivirus package expires in 5 days and I have been reading about MSE and that it came with 8.1.

      I am not very computer literate about these things. MSC does not appear in my list of installed programmes in Control Panel where I also have found a message saying: Your memory card reader is missing a driver. An update is available that solves this problem.

      I don’t want to be left with no protection when Norton expires in 5 days, but MSE info says I need to delete it before downloading MSE. Very confused. Can you please advise me on what to do.
      Many thanks
      Judith P

    20. @Judith -

      Don’t pay for Norton! Uninstall it. Let Windows take over – Windows Defender (a.k.a. Microsoft Security Essentials) works just fine unless you’re a CIA operative, and it doesn’t cost a cent.

    21. Thank you very much for your advice. I have cancelled Norton automatic update and uninstalled Norton but am concerned that I cannot see Windows Defender or MS Essentials anywhere in Control Panel Programmes. How do I know it is installed and that my computer is totally protected?

      Also, find that I have installed RICOH R5U8xx Media Driver ver.3.64.02 and ver. following advice when I found the Control Panel message saying: “Your memory card reader is missing a driver. An update is available that solves this problem.” Do I really need this, is it a good thing?

      Many thanks
      Judith P

    22. Just found Windows Defender in Control Panel it is saying that my computer is at risk and I need to do a scan. Does this mean that it is not automatic and that I have to ask it to check my computer instead of it working automatically? Very confused about how to use this protection. Hope you can advise me again. Thanks

    23. Ok now, done a full scan and it detected something called softwarebundler which it removed. Seems to be protecting me better than Norton!

      I would still like your advice on the message saying: “Your memory card reader is missing a driver. An update is available that solves this problem” which has resulted in me following the link and installing RICOH R5U8xx Media Driver ver.3.64.02 and ver. Do you know what this is and if it is good to have or not?

      Many thanks
      Judith P

    24. @Judith -

      If you have a Ricoh memory card reader, yeah, sure, it should be fine.

    25. @Judith -

      When Windows Defender needs to update itself, it’ll ask for your permission. In the normal course of events, you don’t need to do anything – but when the program itself asks for permission to update it, go ahead.

    26. Many thanks for all your help and advice.

    27. I am using MSE for 8.1system. Today I received a message about critical violators trying to gain access. It listed 15 problems. Then it said to hit delete button. When I tried to do that I was immediately directed to purchase add’l antivirus protection. I am not tech savy, but was suspicious. Is this just a ploy or do i need to be concerned. We just added MSE after complimentary 30 days of Norton.

    28. Let me correct my previous email. My husband said we do not have MSE. Could not install. We updated from 8 to 8.1. We did uninstall Norton & turned on Windows Defender. Hope I have not confused you too much. Thanks.

    29. @Judy -

      The confusion is Microsoft’s. If you have Win8, you automatically get Windows Defender (which is the Win8 version of MSE). Long story short, you’re fine.

    30. @Judy -0

      Norton isn’t a big a pile of junk as it once was, but I don’t see any benefit to paying for it. The message about critical violations is 100% BS. Good that you didn’t click on anything.

    31. when I uninstall Norton’s free trail (four more days left) will windows defender automatically start up or do I have to do something to start it P.S. obious I am a novis

    32. @Mike -

      If you’re using Windows 8, yep, Defender will kick back in.

      If you’re using Windows 7, after you uninstall Norton (good riddance!), download and install Microsoft Security Essentials.

    33. Thanks for all the helpful info all,
      Just a query, only bought a new device running win8.1 today, the top menu bar in windows defender says “pc status: potentially unprotected”, even though I just ran a scan.

      Do I need to get additional malware/antivirus protection or is this just defender doing its thing?

    34. @Lachlan -

      Defender probably has to go through one download cycle. You can update it manually, or just leave it alone for a day or two.

    35. Went to run a complete scan (WD 8.1)and got the orange warning message
      PC status: Potentially unprotected
      And stated that stated (giving a date) that a scan had not been run in over 2 weeks. I had the understanding that WD ran a quick scan daily,automatic settings.Was this just referring to a complete scan? Have not changed any settings.

    36. @Al -

      It should run a scan nightly. Not sure why you’re having problems, but run a manual scan and watch to see if things get better.

    37. Hey i just installed eset smart security 8 but i didn’t know that window defender was too a antivirus program my laptop crashed and but fortunately it started up.
      Now i want to uninstall eset but it is not listed in uninstall program option. HOW DO I UNINSTALL IT??

    38. @Rustic -

      How do you know that Eset is running?

      If it is running for sure, check this out: http://kb.eset.com/esetkb/index?page=content&id=SOLN2289

    39. I have a new computer w/ Windows 8.1 it came w/ a trial version of McAfee which will expire in 10 days. I was inquiring about MSE/Windows Defender…I noticed that it is presently TURNED OFF on my computer

      My question do I have to wait until McAfee expires or can I turn on MSE/Windows Defender now and somehow get rid of McAfee before its expiration?

    40. @Bishop -

      Uninstall McAfee, using the McAfee uninstaller. MSE will kick back in.

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