How to disable Windows Defender: Windows Defender is an antimalware software developed by Microsoft that protects the system from all risks related to privacy and security. It is included “as standard” in all the latest versions of the Windows operating system, such as Windows 10 and Windows 8.x, while on Windows 7 it is proposed as an external solution, with the name of Security Essentials (Defender is there, but it is only limited-function antispyware).
According to some well-known comparative tests, Windows Defender is one of the best free antivirus (and not only) and its use is recommended for everyone. However, if you are here and reading this tutorial, it is because you have decided to deactivate it: is it so? Well, then let me help you achieve your goal. With today’s guide, we will see together how to disable Windows Defender in all those occasions when this operation is necessary (e.g. when you have to run a software that is recognized as a threat) and / or decide to use another antivirus and Defender is not automatically deactivated (as it should be).
I recommend: disable Defender only if you are 100% sure of what you are doing, if you have no doubts about the reliability of the software you are about to run and / or if you have a valid antivirus to use instead. I do not take responsibility for any viruses or malware “caught” by your PC following the deactivation of Defender, understand? If everything is clear, let’s get to work immediately: find all the steps to take right below.
Disable Windows Defender on Windows 10
If you use Windows 10 and want to disable Windows Defender , know that you can proceed in various ways. Based on your needs, you can choose whether to disable the antivirus temporarily, whether to add only some elements to its exceptions (so as to exclude them from the scan) or whether to disable it completely. Here, in detail, are all the steps you need to take.
Temporarily disable Windows Defender
To disable Windows Defender temporarily, using the standard function provided by the program, click on the Windows Start button (the flag icon located in the lower left corner of the screen) and select the gear icon that appears on the left side of the screen.
In the window that opens, click on the Update and Security icon , then select the Windows Security item from the left sidebar and the item Virus and Threat Protection from the center of the page that appears on the screen.
At this point, go to Settings of Virus and Threat Protection , move the levers relating to the Real-time protection and Protection provided by the cloud function to Off and confirm by pressing the Yes button that appears on the screen. A notification will also appear that virus and malware protection has been disabled.
As already mentioned, the protection will automatically restart after a few minutes or in the event of a system restart. In the event of a sudden change of mind, however, you can reactivate the protection “manually” by returning to the Settings menu of Virus and Threat Protection , moving the levers relating to the Real-time protection and Protection provided by the cloud function to Activated and answering Yes to the warnings that appear on the screen.
Permanently disable Windows Defender
If you want to disable Windows Defender permanently , you need to install another antivirus software: Windows will automatically disable the protection provided by Defender and keep active only that of the alternative antivirus installed on the PC (as keeping two antivirus active on the system is harmful and slows down overall computer performance). If you don’t know which alternative antivirus to install, take a “spin” on my tutorial dedicated to the best free antivirus for Windows 10 .
How do you say? Have you already installed an alternative antivirus but Windows has not disabled Defender? Do you want to disable Defender without installing an alternative antivirus? In cases like these, you can get hold of the registry and force Defender to be disabled. I recommend, however, try to avoid being completely without antivirus: it would amount to suicide if your PC has an Internet connection!
Having made this necessary premise, to deactivate Windows Defender permanently via the registry, you must press the combination of Win + R keys on the PC keyboard, in order to call up the Run panel … , and you must give the regedit command (followed by the pressing the Enter key and pressing the Yes button that appears on the screen).
Now, using the side navigation menu of the Registry Editor , go to the path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows Defender , right click in an “empty” spot on the right panel of the Editor and select the items New> DWORD value (32 bit) from the menu that opens.
At this point, rename the newly created key in DisableAntiSpyware , double click on it, assign it the value 1 , give Enter and restart the system. If everything went in the right direction, going to the Settings menu > Update and security> Windows Security> Virus and Threat Protection , Windows Defender will be disabled or inaccessible because “Virus and threat protection is managed by your organization” .
In case of second thoughts, to activate Windows Defender again, open the Registry Editor and delete the DisableAntiSpyware key that you created previously, right-clicking on it and selecting the Delete item from the menu that appears. The changes will take effect only after rebooting the system and clicking on the Restart button in the Defender management panel.
Turn off Windows Defender only for some files
If you don’t want to disable Windows Defender completely, but you want the software not to scan some specific files, you can take advantage of the latter’s system of exceptions.
Access, therefore, the Defender settings as I explained before, go to Virus and threat protection> Virus and threat protection settings and click on the Add or remove exclusions item located at the bottom of the page that opens.
Finally, press the [+] Add an exclusion button and choose whether to add a specific file , folder , specific file type or process to the exceptions . In the first two cases, use the File Explorer navigation panel to select the file or folder to add to the exceptions. In the case of the “file type”, instead, type the extension to add to the exceptions and click on the Add button . In the case of processes, type the name of the process to be excluded from the scan and press the Add button .
In case of second thoughts, to remove an item from the exceptions, go back to the Virus and Threat Protection> Virus and Threat Protection Settings menu of Defender, click on the name of the exception added previously and click on the Remove button that appears below. Confirm by answering Yes to the warning that appears on the screen.
Disable Windows Defender on Windows 7 and Vista
If you use Windows 7 or Windows Vista and you want to know how to disable Security Essentials (the version of Defender for the old editions of the Microsoft operating system), all you have to do is click on the Windows Start button , search for Security Essentials in the search field of the menu that appears on the screen and select the first search result.
At this point, went to the Settings tab , select the Real-time protection item from the left sidebar, remove the check from the Activate real-time protection item and save the changes by clicking first on the Save changes button (bottom right) and then on Yes .
In case of second thoughts, all you have to do is go back to the Settings tab of Security Essentials, select the item Real-time protection from the left sidebar, put the check mark on Enable real-time protection and click on Save changes and then on Yep .
If you want to disable only Defender (the limited antispyware software included “standard” in Windows 7), click on the Start button , search for Windows Defender in the quick search bar and click on the Windows Defender item that appears in the left column of the Start menu.
In the window that opens, click on the Tools tab , then on Options and select the Administrator item in the left sidebar. At this point, remove the check mark from the item Use the program and click first on Save and then on Yes to save the changes and disable Windows Defender.
If you still use Windows XP (bad! It is an obsolete and not very safe operating system!), You have two options available: disable the Windows Defender real-time protection, as done on Windows 7 and Vista, or uninstall it completely by removing it from the computer. In the first case, all you have to do is access the main Windows Defender screen by double-clicking on its icon in the notification area (next to the Windows clock), go to Tools> Options and remove the check mark from the item Use Windows Defender (located at the bottom).
To uninstall the program completely, click on the Start button and go to the Control Panel . In the window that opens, click on Add or Remove Programs , select Windows Defender from the list of programs on your PC and click on the Remove button first and then on Yes to start uninstalling it.