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Issue #647: December 15-21, 2019

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Q: I just bought a new Dell computer with Windows 10. It has Windows Defender for virus protection along with a 30 free trial of McAfee Live. My question is, is Windows Defender a good enough virus protector or should I buy McAfee or Norton to use as my virus protection? Thank you very much. I really enjoy your column!!

 – John S.
Niceville, Florida

A: Whenever I read a question asking if something is “good enough” it always gives me cause to pause and wonder just exactly what the goal is for the person asking. The phrase is totally subjective, to the point where it requires the person asking the question to define just what they mean by “good enough”. Is it good enough to stop widely known threats? Or is it only good enough if it is capable of detecting and eradicating emerging threats, through heuristics, and analysis of activity patterns? To me at least, there is no real answer to someone else’s inquiry about whether something is “good enough”.

So let’s change-up the question a little. How about something a little less subjective, like “How does the free Windows Defender compare with 3rd-party protection such as McAfee and Norton?” That’s a question I can answer, although even that answer will be somewhat subjective, swayed by my own biases and experiences.

I think a lot of these kinds of questions stem from the road that all of us PC users have been forced to walk over the years. Once upon a time, the worst threat we faced was pop-up ads. Over time, that has evolved through viruses that were mere annoyances, to full-on threats that can steal your critical personal information and lock you out of your own system. The anti-virus/anti-malware vendors have been forced to try to keep pace as threats evolve. Windows Defender is one good example. It was first known as Microsoft Security Essentials when it was offered under Windows 7. Back then, it was a separate, optional component, and even Microsoft still recommended using a 3rd-party anti-virus solution alongside it. In today’s world, things have changed a lot. Windows Defender is now an integral part of Windows, and is very adept at detecting and removing virus threats. Good enough? Well, you get what you pay for. If you read a lot of online reviews of threat protection software, Defender gets pretty good marks in the “free” category, often scoring as high or higher than the free versions of options like McAfee and Norton. But both of those (as well as many others) also offer paid versions of their products, which are supposed to have richer features, and enhanced abilities. Microsoft doesn’t offer any paid version of Defender. Good enough? I think you know that I’m just going to turn that question back around to you, since only you can decide what is good enough for you. My bottom line is that things aren’t what they used to be, and a lot of what we were all conditioned to believe about security software has changed. I suggest you hit Google, and find some articles by experts who make it their business to study and rate these products.

• •

 Geek Tips: Hidden Windows 10 Feature: God Mode

 I came across this hidden gem recently, and I’m happy to share it to bring a little more Geekiness to your Win 10 experience. In this context, “God Mode” is a special folder that contains a grouped list of over 200 tools to help you perform maintenance tasks on your computer. Many of them are available on the Start menu if you know where to look, but God Mode is a cool way to organize them all in one convenient place.

Activating God Mode requires you to enter a very specific string of over 40 characters, and just like the code to unlock the futuristic File Explorer that I introduced you to in Issue #643, this type of string is not conducive to a printed newspaper page, since it will break across multiple lines in an unpredictable manner. So, visit this column on my website at, and scroll-down to the Bonus Web-Only Content. There you’ll find all the instructions, along with the special code that you can just copy and paste.


Bonus Web-only Content:

To initiate the so-called “God Mode”, perform the following steps:

  • Ensure you are using an account with administrator privileges
  • Go to your Windows Desktop, and right-click in the open space, and select New->Folder
  •  Rename the folder to the special code shown below.  I suggest you copy and paste this code rather than trying to accurately type the entire thing
  • If you want to replace the name “GodMode” with something else, you can do so, but you must supply a valid filename.  For example, you could name it “GeekTools”
  •  Once you have renamed the file correctly, the folder icon will change appearance to resemble a control panel icon.
  • Double-click the icon to open the folder
  • Enjoy!

Special God Mode code:

Until next week – good luck and happy computing!

– Geek


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