Windows 7 : Using Windows Defender (part 3) - Using Windows Defender Tools & Troubleshooting Windows Defender

3/6/2011 3:12:22 PM

4. Using Windows Defender Tools

In Windows Defender, you can access the Tools and Settings page, shown in Figure 11, by clicking the Tools button on the toolbar. As the previous sections discussed how to configure general and administrative options, and how to perform a scan, let’s now look at the other selections available on this page.

Figure 11. Accessing additional settings and tools

Clicking Microsoft SpyNet lists Microsoft SpyNet features and options that allow you to join this service offered by Microsoft. Microsoft SpyNet is an online community that helps users determine how to respond to potential threats to their computers. You have three options to choose from: join with a basic membership, join with an advanced membership, or not join at all.

The default setting is a basic membership. A basic membership sends very little information to Microsoft about the software Windows Defender detects and the alert actions the computer uses. Advanced membership sends more information to Microsoft about spyware and other potentially unwanted programs encountered on the computer. Microsoft does not send any personal identification information in these updates. Of course, the “I don’t want to join” option does not send any information to Microsoft, but you also do not get the benefits of using SpyNet. Make sure you click the Save button to allow Windows to update your profile for future use of Windows Defender.

“Quarantined items” lists the different programs and files Windows Defender has identified as threats against the computer. This feature also lists the default action taken against the listed objects, and the date the computer found the potentially unwanted program. You have three options for working with quarantined items:

Remove All

Permanently removes all quarantined items from your computer.


Selecting a quarantined item and then clicking Remove removes the quarantined item from your computer.


Selecting a quarantined item and then clicking Restore allows the item to run on your computer.

The top of the “Quarantined items” window lists the membership level if you have joined Microsoft SpyNet, and it allows you to change your membership level.

“Allowed items” lists the programs and files that you’ve allowed to run after Windows Defender alerted you about a potential threat. Each program or file is listed by name, alert level, and recommended action. If you want to remove a program or file from the “Allowed items” list, click it and then select “Remove from list.” Windows Defender will then be able to monitor the program or file for potentially malicious activity. The top of the window also lists the membership level if you have joined Microsoft SpyNet, and it allows you to change your membership level.

Selecting the link to the Windows Defender website takes you directly to the official Windows Defender area of Microsoft’s website. The related pages have invaluable information concerning help and support using Windows Defender, as well as Microsoft’s stance against spyware. You can find some wonderful information, in addition to an online community dedicated to helping users with problems using Windows Defender.

Also available is a link to the Malware Protection Center website. The Malware Protection Center performs malware research and response for the Windows operating system. You can learn more about the latest definitions for Windows and various other Microsoft products. There’s also lots of information about malware as well as lists of protection software and resources.

5. Troubleshooting Windows Defender

As with all programs associated with computers, you can sometimes have problems getting Windows Defender to work. The single most common problem with Windows Defender is it not starting at all. If this happens, you must make sure that you have enabled Windows Defender to run on the computer. To check this setting, open the Action Center in the Control Panel by clicking “Review your computer’s status” under System and Security. Click Security to reveal current security settings. Under Spyware and unwanted software protection, make sure that Windows Defender protection is on.

If you do not see this listing, you will see “Windows Defender is turned off” and a button labeled “Turn on now.” Click the button to turn on the Windows Defender feature and allow the program to scan the computer for spyware or malware infections. You will then see an “On” entry, showing that the feature is enabled on the computer.

If you have problems turning on the Windows Defender feature, or if you receive an error stating that the Windows Defender service was unable to start, you can troubleshoot using Computer Management. To open Computer Management, click the Start button, right-click on the Computer icon, and then select Manage from the context menu provided.

Once you’ve opened Computer Management, click the Services and Applications node and then double-click Services. In the Services view, scroll down on the right side of the window until you see Windows Defender. Double-click the entry to view the properties of this service, as shown in Figure 12. If the service status is not listed as Started, click the Start button to start the service. If the Start button is dimmed, click the Stop button and then click the Start button. While you are working with the Windows Defender service, ensure that the “Startup type” is set to Automatic (Delayed Start).

Figure 12. Checking the status and startup type of the service

If you still cannot get the service to work correctly, you can check the event logs for additional information. In Computer Management, expand the Event Viewer node by double-clicking it, do the same with the Windows Logs node, and then select the System log. Look for stop errors for Windows Defender. If the stop error lists an unauthorized account that is preventing the service from starting, access the Logon tab of the Properties dialog box for the Windows Defender service and verify that the “Log on as” option is set to “Local system account.” If it isn’t, select this option and then click Start on the General tab to start the service.

If you still cannot start the service, you can visit and enter the information from the Event Viewer as your search parameters to help you determine the source of the problem. Try using the Event ID number or error text as the search text. Usually you can find information on Microsoft’s support pages to help identify existing problems and resolutions for errors on your computer. Other available options include checking for updates to Windows Defender on Microsoft’s website, or even reinstalling Windows Defender using the download link listed at the site. Although these may not be the most appealing options, they do work from time to time.

If you continue to have problems getting Windows Defender to work correctly, you may need to run an antivirus program on the computer to determine if a computer file was corrupted, or you may need to contact a computer service company. Calling in a professional support representative is the most expensive option. Professional support would also be the last-ditch effort to fix the problem.

  •  Windows 7 : Protecting Your Computer with Windows Defender and Windows Firewall - Introducing Action Center
  •  Windows 7 : Navigating the Computer Security Maze
  •  Windows 7 : Troubleshooting Common Problems on Small Networks
  •  Windows 7 : Advanced Networking Concepts
  •  Windows 7 : Networking with TCP/IP (part 2) - Understanding IPv6 & Configuring IPv4, IPv6, and Other Protocols
  •  Windows 7 : Networking with TCP/IP (part 1) - Understanding IPv4 & Using Private IPv4 Addresses and Networking Protocols
  •  Windows 7 : Mapping Your Networking Infrastructure (part 2) - Viewing the Network Map & Viewing and Managing Your Network Connections
  •  Windows 7 : Mapping Your Networking Infrastructure (part 1) - Using the Network and Sharing Center
  •  Windows 7 : Understanding Home and Small-Business Networks
  •  Troubleshooting Windows 7 Programs and Features
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