STEP 1 •••
OUT OFTHE BOX, Vista is better equipped than previous versions of Windows to handle potential threats such as viruses and spyware. However, there's still a fundamental gap in its armoury - it doesn't include any anti-virus software. Click the Start button and then choose Control Panel, then Security and then find the Security Center and click the 'Check this computer's security status' link. Three of the four settings show green 'lights: which is good. One doesn't, and clicking the arrow next to Malware protection reveals that although Windows Defender is on, there's no anti-virus software installed. This is because Vista doesn't include anti-virus Software.
STEP 2 •••
THE FIRST THING TO do, then, is install a reliable anti-virus tool. There are lots of options to choose from but for the purposes of this article we're going to use Webroot's highly rated Spy Sweeper with Antivirus (hereafter just Spy Sweeper), partly because it's good and partly because we want to demonstrate how it's possible to mix and match Vista's built-in protection with software from other suppliers. Note that you are free to use any anti-virus tool you fancy this advise will still be useful. Having installed the software we repeat Step 1 and note that all the lights are now green, which means that, on the face of it, everything is now well with the security set up on this Pc.
STEP 3 •••
EXCEPT IT ISN'T, CLICKING the arrow next to the Malware protection heading opens the settings below and reveals that both Spy Sweeper and Windows Defender are both turned on. This is bad, because having two lots of anti-spyware software beavering away on one PC doesn't actually make it twice as secure; if anything it makes it less secure. That's because the two programs are both trying to rummage around inside Windows at a pretty fundamental level and as a result they can interfere with each other to such an extent that neither does its job properly.
STEP 4 •••
SO WE NEED TO turn one of them off. Having spent money on antivirus software, it makes sense to disable Windows Defender. Now, there's nothing at all wrong with Windows Defender, but Spy Sweeper has more options, is more sophisticated and easier to control, so we're going to be using that, rather than the built-in Windows software. Start the process by clicking the Windows Defender link on the left of the window like so.
STEP 5 •••
WHEN THE MAIN DEFENDER window opens, click the Tools link in the button bar at the top and then, when that window opens, click the Options link. This displays a long list of ways to change Defender's settings and the one we want is right at the bottom, so grab the scroll bar on the right with the mouse pointer and - still holding the left mouse button down - drag down until the Administrator options appear. Click once to remove the tick next to 'Use Windows Defender Click Save and when Windows asks for permission, click Continue.
STEP 6 •••
WINDOWS WARNS US THAT Defender has been turned off but since we have Spy Sweeper installed, this is fine, and so we can click Close to complete the process (remember, if there's no anti-spyware software on the PC, it's important to leave Windows Defender switched on). Return to the Windows Security Center and click the 'Check this computer's security status' link at the top and then, when the window opens, click the arrow next to Malware protection. This time, Vista reports that only Spy Sweeper is present and turned on. On a PC with two competing spyware programs, this is how it should be - only one should be running.