How to turn off Windows Defender

Windows Defender, commonly referred to as Microsoft Defender, is your PC's first line of defense. This free feature comes bundled with your Windows operating system and requires no additional manual downloads, modifications, or setups. Although it is quite good at detecting some basic threats, Windows Defender has been known to occasionally detect false positives. This can be a bit of a downside.

For this reason, it is important to know how to disable Windows Defender. But you will want to put it back at some point. In this entry, we'll teach you how to disable Windows Defender, re-enable it, and you'll learn some cool tricks about it, in general.

How to turn off Windows Defender

Not everyone agrees to be protected by Microsoft Defender. Some have found better alternatives and don't want to encounter false positives all the time. Others work in internet security and may want to test certain malicious protocols, for which they need Windows' proprietary firewall and anti-virus software disabled.

Whatever the case, you may want the Microsoft Defender feature disabled – temporarily or permanently. Luckily, you can disable it both permanently and temporarily, if you wish. Here's how.

Temporarily – Using Windows Security

Chances are, you're one of the people who wants the feature temporarily disabled. You might want to pass up a false positive, for some reason. This is best done through the Windows Security app, where the most apparent Microsoft Defender settings are.

  1. Click on Start.
  2. Go to Control Panel, System and Security, Security and Maintenance, and search for Windows Security, but why bother, when you can just search and start Windows Security.
  3. Once Windows Security is open, you'll see a whole bunch of settings, ranging from firewall and network protection to family options. To access Microsoft Defender settings, select the first entry in the list – Virus & threat protection. From this screen, you can perform scans, check for updates, and access various settings.
  4. You can also manage Microsoft Defender settings. To do this, go to Virus & threat protection settings and click Windows Defender Antivirus options.
  5. From here, you can enable or disable various protection features.
  6. However, to disable Microsoft Defender, go to the first item in the list of options – Periodic scan. Then turn off the switch. Note that you may be asked to confirm this.

Keep in mind that this is not a permanent solution. Microsoft Defender will automatically shut down after the device restarts. However, it's definitely the best solution if all you need is to let a few apps through.

Always – Using the Local Group Policy Editor

Some people just don't want to bother with Microsoft Defender. As mentioned, they might have a better protection option. While permanently disabling Microsoft's proprietary security feature isn't as simple as temporarily disabling it, it's not really that complicated, as long as you carefully follow the instructions below.

To get started, you'll need to disable Tamper Protection. Tamper protection ensures that an intruder doesn't change any security settings on your computer to gain access. Well, Tamper Protection does not allow you to permanently disable Microsoft Defender. Even if you change the settings using Group Policy, the tamper feature will re-enable the security system after a reboot.

If you want to disable the tamper protection feature.

  1. Go to the Virus & threat protection screen as you did before.
  2. Here you will see the Tamper Protection feature with a switch underneath. Disable the switch and confirm that you, as the system administrator, really want to disable it.

But that doesn't mean you're done. Just because you have disabled Tamper Protection does not mean that Microsoft Defender Antivirus is disabled.

  1. Now you will have to get a little technical. Begin by opening Start and searching for “gpedit.msc”. This will open the Local Group Policy Editor menu.
  2. You will see the path menu on the left. Go ahead and navigate to Computer Configuration, then Administrative Templates, then Windows Components and finally double click on the Microsoft Defender Antivirus entry. Keep in mind that on some computers this entry will be called Windows Defender Antivirus. Don't worry, it's the same thing.
  3. Once in the Microsoft/Windows Defender Antivirus path, navigate to the right, the main part of the screen. You will see a list and an option to Disable Microsoft Antivirus/Windows Defender. Double click on it.
  4. Now, by default, the option will be disabled, which means Defender is enabled. If you enable the option, it will disable the feature. So, select Enabled in Disable Microsoft/Windows Defender Antivirus and select OK.

That's it, you have successfully disabled the Microsoft Defender feature permanently. Even after restarting your device, Microsoft's proprietary antivirus feature will not reactivate. Of course, by following the same instructions, you can re-enable the feature at any time.

Use of the registry

Unless you know exactly what you're doing, you shouldn't go wrong with Windows Registry Editor. However, if you've ever disabled the Windows Defender feature on older iterations of Windows, you probably know that Registry Editor was one of the most effective ways to do so. So what happened?

Well, that was kept available because you didn't have the option to disable Windows security features like that. Some settings have been baked into the operating system and only a more technical approach has been used to access them. Hence the registry editor functionality and all kinds of "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE" settings.

However, Microsoft Defender now offers solutions to temporarily and permanently disable security features. They are relatively easily accessible, as you can see.

So Windows has decided to remove Registry Editor access to this option – it's no longer needed and it's still a risk. If you happen to take a wrong step here, you risk system-wide problems. And with the options mentioned above, you don't need to do things from the Registry Editor function.

How to re-enable Windows Defender

Whether you have disabled security features temporarily or permanently, you may wish to re-enable them. Yes, a reboot will support the temporary fix, but you may need Microsoft Defender without a reboot. And, of course, you can also revert Microsoft Defender to permanent settings at any time.

Enabling security features is as easy as disabling them. Just follow the steps above and do the opposite – whenever they say you need to enable or disable something. Yeah, it's as simple as that.

Additional FAQ

1. Should I use another antivirus software?

Windows/Microsoft Defender is an often underestimated and valuable security feature. It might not be the strongest antivirus software out there, but it is definitely a line of defense that slows down various cyber criminal activities.

That said, Microsoft Defender is rarely enough to protect your computer from the various threats lurking on the Internet. Cybercrime is real and many hackers are just waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. Getting reliable, quality and popular third-party software and using it in addition to Microsoft Defender functionality is definitely a good idea.

However, disabling Microsoft Defender is not recommended unless you need it to pass up a false positive. If you're sure you know what you're doing, you can disable it permanently.

2. Is it safe to disable Windows/Microsoft Defender?

Is the Internet world safe? Of course not. So disabling Microsoft security features on your device is not really safe either. However, sometimes it is necessary. Microsoft Defender will produce false positives, and this can prevent you from doing completely safe and certified things online.

Knowing how to turn it off and turning it off once in a while is safe. As long as you know what you're doing and are confident that what you're experiencing is trustworthy online content.

3. Est-ce Windows Defender or Microsoft Defender?

The latest iteration of Windows Security refers to the software as Microsoft Defender. Until recently, it was called Windows Defender on all Windows platforms. Still, don't worry if the feature is still called Windows Defender on your computer.

Even if you've made all the updates, your computer may have ended up keeping the old Defender name. But if you have followed the latest updates, all Microsoft Defender features will be available on Windows Defender.


This is how you disable Microsoft/Windows Defender. As you can see, you can do this temporarily or permanently, depending on your own preferences. Still, it's not advisable to permanently disable the feature – it's always useful to have an extra layer of protection on your computer, even with third-party security software.

Have you successfully disabled Microsoft Defender? Did you do it temporarily or permanently? Let us know in the comments section below. Oh, and don't shy away from shooting with any questions you might have on the subject.

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