When it comes to protecting your system from potential cyber threats, choosing the right antivirus software is crucial. In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, Windows Defender and Webroot are two renowned names. As we delve into this comprehensive comparison in 2024, we aim to provide an in-depth analysis of the features, capabilities, and performance of these leading security solutions.

Overview of Windows Defender

windows defender

Windows Defender is a comprehensive security solution designed to safeguard your Windows devices against a vast array of cyber threats. It comes pre-installed on most Windows machines, offering a robust first line of defence without any additional cost.

Windows Defender’s Key Features

  • Antivirus and Anti-malware Protection: Defender acts as a shield, continuously scanning your device for malicious software and blocking potential threats before they can infect your system.
  • Real-time Threat Detection: Windows Defender goes beyond just identifying known malware. It utilises advanced behavioural analysis and cloud-based intelligence to detect and block even zero-day threats (previously unknown malware).
  • Exploit Protection: This feature safeguards your device by patching vulnerabilities in software that attackers might try to exploit.
  • Network Protection: Windows Defender helps to monitor and filter network traffic, blocking suspicious connections that could pose a security risk.
  • Limited Sandboxing: While not as comprehensive as some premium solutions, Defender offers limited sandboxing capabilities to isolate and detonate suspicious files in a safe environment.
  • Tamper Protection: This feature helps prevent unauthorised modifications to security settings, ensuring your defences remain active.
  • Integration with Windows Security Ecosystem: Defender integrates seamlessly with other Windows security products like Windows Defender for Endpoint and Microsoft 365 Defender, offering a more comprehensive security posture when used together.

Benefits of Using Windows Defender

  • Cost-effective: Pre-installed on Windows, Defender provides a no-cost security solution for basic protection.
  • Convenience: Being pre-installed, Defender is readily available and requires minimal setup.
  • Real-time Protection: Cloud-based intelligence and behavioural analysis ensure up-to-date protection against evolving threats.
  • Low System Impact: Designed to be lightweight, Defender has minimal impact on device performance.
  • Regular Updates: Automatic updates ensure you’re always protected against the latest threats.

Windows Defender Limitations

  • Limited Features: Compared to premium antivirus solutions, Defender may lack advanced features like parental controls, secure browsing, or password management.
  • Primarily Windows-focused: Defender’s core functionality is designed for Windows devices.

Overview of Webroot


Webroot, an OpenText company, stands out as a prominent provider of cybersecurity solutions designed for both individuals and businesses. Here’s what makes them a compelling choice:

  • Cloud-based & Lightweight: Webroot takes a cloud-centric approach to security. This translates to minimal impact on device performance, making it ideal for users with resource-constrained machines. Updates and threat detection occur seamlessly in the cloud, ensuring you’re always protected against the latest threats.
  • Focus on Real-time Threat Detection: Webroot prioritises real-time threat detection using advanced behavioural analysis. This approach goes beyond simply identifying known malware signatures. It actively analyses program behaviour to identify and block even zero-day threats (previously unknown malware).
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Powered Security: Webroot leverages the power of AI to continuously learn and adapt to new threats. This ensures your protection stays ahead of the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.
  • Multiple Security Layers: While lightweight, Webroot offers a comprehensive suite of security features, including:
    • Antivirus and Anti-malware protection
    • Web filtering to block malicious websites
    • Phishing protection to safeguard you from email scams
    • Exploit protection to prevent attackers from taking advantage of software vulnerabilities
    • (For Businesses) Advanced endpoint protection features for multi-layered defence on business networks
  • Easy to Use & Manage: Webroot prides itself on user-friendly interfaces that are simple to navigate for both technical and non-technical users. Management tools allow businesses to centrally manage security across their network.
  • Multiple Device Compatibility: Webroot offers protection for a wide range of devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. This ensures comprehensive security across your personal or business ecosystem.

Comparison of Webroot’s Strengths

  • Pros: Lightweight, cloud-based, real-time threat detection, AI-powered, user-friendly, multi-device compatibility
  • Cons: May lack some advanced features of more resource-intensive security solutions

Features Comparison: Windows Defender vs Webroot

Both Windows Defender and Webroot are strong contenders in the cybersecurity arena, but they cater to different needs. Here’s a head-to-head comparison to help you choose the champion for your digital defence:

Threat Detection

  • Windows Defender: Utilises a combination of signature-based detection (identifying known malware) and behavioural analysis to detect suspicious program activity. While improving, it might not be as adept at catching zero-day threats (previously unknown malware).
  • Webroot: Prioritises real-time threat detection with a strong focus on behavioural analysis. This advanced approach aims to identify and block even zero-day threats, offering a potentially stronger defence against the latest malware.

Protection Features

  • Windows Defender: Offers core antivirus and anti-malware protection. Paid versions of Windows, including some PCs (e.g., Windows 11 Pro), might include additional features like a basic firewall.
  • Webroot: Provides a wider range of features, including:
    • Web filtering to block malicious websites.
    • Phishing protection to safeguard against email scams.
    • Exploit protection to prevent attackers from taking advantage of software vulnerabilities (on paid plans for individuals and some business plans).

System Performance

  • Windows Defender: Designed to be lightweight, it has minimal impact on device performance.
  • Webroot: Stands out for its exceptional performance. The cloud-based architecture keeps the software footprint small and ensures minimal resource usage on your device.


  • Windows Defender: Offers limited management tools. It’s primarily designed for individual user protection on a single device.
  • Webroot: Provides centralised management tools for businesses with paid plans, allowing for easier administration of security across multiple devices on a network.

Endpoint Protection

When it comes to endpoint protection, both Windows Defender and Webroot offer solutions to safeguard your devices from cyber threats. Here’s a breakdown of their capabilities in this area:

Windows Defender

Some of its strengths:

  • Free and Built-in: Pre-installed on Windows machines, offering basic endpoint protection at no additional cost.
  • Improved Detection: While primarily signature-based, Windows Defender has improved its behavioural analysis capabilities, offering better protection against some unknown threats.
  • Lightweight: Designed with minimal system impact, making it suitable for resource-constrained devices.
  • Limited Endpoint Management: Offers basic device management within Windows, allowing for some control over security settings.

While the weaknesses include:

  • Limited Features: Primarily focuses on antivirus and anti-malware protection. Lacks advanced features like endpoint detection and response (EDR) or vulnerability scanning typically found in dedicated endpoint protection solutions.
  • Focus on Windows: Only protects Windows devices.
  • Limited Management: Management features are basic and not ideal for complex network environments.


Webroot’s strength includes:

  • Real-time Threat Detection: Utilises advanced behavioural analysis to identify and block threats in real-time, including zero-day attacks.
  • Cloud-based Architecture: Delivers low impact on device performance due to cloud-based scanning and updates.
  • Multi-Device Protection: Safeguards a wider range of devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS (depending on the plan).
  • Endpoint Management: Paid business plans offer centralised management tools for easier security administration across a network.
  • Additional Features: May include features like vulnerability scanning and limited EDR capabilities on paid plans.

The weaknesses include:

  • Paid Subscription: A paid subscription is required for full functionality, unlike the free Windows Defender.
  • Limited Features on Free Plans: Free versions might only offer basic antivirus protection.
  • Management Features on Paid Plans: Endpoint management features are primarily available on paid business plans.

Choosing the Right Solution for Endpoint Protection

  • Windows Defender: A suitable choice for:
    • Home users on a budget seeking basic endpoint protection on Windows devices.
    • Users who prioritise a free, built-in solution with minimal system impact.
  • Webroot: Ideal for:
    • Businesses or users who value real-time threat detection and protection against zero-day attacks.
    • Users who need multi-device protection across different platforms.
    • Organisations requiring centralised management tools for endpoint security (paid plans).

Windows Defender vs Webroot

CategoryWindows DefenderWebroot
CostFree (included with Windows)Paid Subscription plans available for individuals and businesses
Platform CompatibilityWindowsWindows, macOS, Android, iOS
FocusBasic, built-in protectionComprehensive, real-time threat detection
Detection MethodSignature-based and behavioral analysisPrimarily behavioral analysis with some signature-based detection
System PerformanceLow impactVery low impact due to cloud-based architecture
Ease of UseStraightforward, integrated into WindowsUser-friendly interface for both technical & non-technical users
ManagementLimited management toolsCentralized management tools for businesses (paid plans)
Additional FeaturesFirewall (Windows 10 and above)Web filtering, Phishing protection, Exploit protection (Some features in paid plans)
Advanced FeaturesLimitedMay lack advanced features compared to some premium antivirus solutions

Compatibility of Windows Defender vs Webroot

When choosing an antivirus solution, compatibility with your devices is crucial. Here’s a breakdown of how Windows Defender and Webroot fare in this aspect:

Windows Defender:

  • Champion of Windows: Designed specifically for Windows devices (Windows 10 and above). Integrates seamlessly with the Windows operating system.
  • Limited to Windows: Not compatible with other operating systems like macOS, Android, or iOS.


  • Cross-Platform Champion: Provides protection for a wider range of devices, including:
    • Windows
    • macOS
    • Android
    • iOS (availability might vary depending on the specific plan)
  • Flexibility for Diverse Needs: Caters to users with a mix of devices across different operating systems.

Choosing Based on Compatibility:

  • Windows Defender: The perfect fit if you exclusively use Windows devices.
  • Webroot: The clear winner for users with a mix of devices running different operating systems (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS).
FeatureWindows DefenderWebroot
CompatibilityWindows 10 and aboveWindows, macOS, Android, iOS (availability might vary)
Ideal forUsers with only Windows devicesUsers with a mix of devices across different operating systems

Remember: While Windows Defender excels in its native Windows environment, Webroot’s cross-platform compatibility offers broader protection for users with diverse devices.

Pricing and Plans


When it comes to cost, Windows Defender and Webroot take vastly different approaches. Here’s a breakdown of their pricing structures:

Windows Defender

Cost: Free. Pre-installed on most Windows machines, Windows Defender offers basic security protection at no additional cost. This makes it a budget-friendly option for users who prioritise a free, built-in solution.


Cost: Paid Subscription Plans. Webroot offers various subscription plans to cater to individual and business needs.

Here’s a general overview (pricing may vary depending on promotions and retailers):

  • Individual Plans:
    • Basic protection plans typically start around $30-$40 per year for a single device.
    • More comprehensive plans offering multi-device protection, web filtering, and phishing protection can range from $40-$60 per year (depending on the number of devices covered).
  • Business Plans:
    • Webroot offers tiered business plans with features like centralised management and endpoint protection capabilities. Pricing varies depending on the specific plan and the number of devices covered.
FeatureWindows DefenderWebroot
CostFreePaid Subscription Plans
Ideal forBudget-conscious users on Windows devicesUsers seeking comprehensive protection, multi-device compatibility, or advanced features (at a cost)

Additional Considerations

  • Free vs Paid Features: While Windows Defender is free, it offers basic protection. Webroot’s paid plans provide a wider range of features and functionalities.
  • Long-Term Cost: While Webroot requires a subscription, depending on your needs, the annual cost might be a worthwhile investment for enhanced security.

Windows Defender shines for its free price tag, making it a good choice for budget-minded users on Windows devices. Webroot’s paid subscriptions cater to users who value comprehensive security features, multi-device protection, and advanced functionalities.


When comparing Windows Defender and Webroot, it’s crucial to consider the unique features, performance, and compatibility of each solution. For organisations heavily invested in the Windows ecosystem, Defender offers seamless integration and comprehensive security features. On the other hand, Webroot’s lightweight nature, efficient protection mechanisms, and cloud-based security approach make it an attractive choice for businesses prioritising flexibility and ease of deployment. Ultimately, the choice between these two security solutions depends on individual preferences, budget considerations, and specific security requirements.