How to Disable Windows Defender in Windows 11

Windows Defender is a free built-in, comprehensive antivirus tool with reliable protection. However, there are some drawbacks to using it. It is resource-intensive, and it will continue to run in the background after being switched off – unless it has been permanently disabled.

How to Disable Windows Defender in Windows 11

If you have no requirement for it, there are many ways to disable it permanently. Read on for three methods to deactivate Windows Defender for good.

How to Disable Windows Defender in Windows 11

Microsoft has not made the process to permanently disable Defender quick and easy. If you turn it off in the “Virus & threat protection settings,” it will revert to “On” after a short while and without warning.

Luckily, there are various ways to ensure the setting stays off, which we’re about to take you through.

Disable Microsoft Defender Using Group Policy Settings

The first way to disable Defender is by using the “Group Policy” security tool. To do just that, follow these steps:

  1. Click on “Start” then “Settings.”
  2. Choose “Privacy & security,” “Windows Security,” then “Virus & threat protection.”
  3. Under “Virus & threat protection settings,” click on “Manage settings.”
  4. Scroll down to the “Tamper Protection” option, and toggle the slider to “Off.”
  5. Choose “Yes” to confirm the “Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?” prompt.
  6. In the “Tamper Protection” section, a message will display stating that your device may be vulnerable. Use the “x” in the top right to close the window.
  7. From the taskbar, press the search icon to enter a search for “Edit group policy,” then click the result to run the Group Policy editor.
  8. In the app’s window on the left pane, find “Computer Configuration” and select the “Administrative Templates,” then “Windows Components.”
  9. Scroll down to “Microsoft Defender Antivirus.”
  10. Look for the setting, “Turn off Microsoft Defender Antivirus” in the right pane.
  11. Right-click on it and choose “Edit.”
  12. In the popup window, check the “Enabled” box, then “Apply,” and “OK.”
  13. Next, look for the setting, “Allow antimalware service to remain running always,” then right-click it and press “Edit.”
  14. This time, check the “Disabled” option, click “Apply,” then “OK.”
  15. Now look for the folder called “Real-time Protection” and double-click it to open.
  16. Right-click the setting “Turn off real-time protection” then choose “Edit.”
  17. Check the “Enabled” box, click “Apply,” then “OK.”

Now you have configured the group policy. You’ll need to set up a “Task Scheduler” to stop certain services from running and avoid errors once Defender has been disabled. To do this:

  1. Enter a search for the “Task Scheduler” app, then open it.
  2. Expand the “Task Scheduler Library” folder in the left pane.
  3. Expand “Microsoft,” “Windows,” then “Windows Defender.”
  4. Right-click and “Disable” the following four tasks:
    • Windows Defender Cache Maintenance
    • Windows Defender Cleanup
    • Windows Defender Scheduled Scan
    • Windows Defender Verification

To update the computer and user policies:

  1. Open the Command Prompt as admin.
  2. Run the following command:

Windows Defender has been disabled and will not start up with Windows.

Disable Windows Defender by Modifying the Registry

Another way to deactivate Defender protection is by modifying the registry. Like the Group Policy option, this method requires the “Tamper Protection” setting to be disabled to stop the Defender settings from being tweaked. Follow these steps to do that:

  1. Click on “Start” then “Settings.”
  2. Click on “Privacy & security,” “Windows Security,” then “Virus & threat protection.”
  3. Beneath “Virus & threat protection settings,” click on “Manage settings.”
  4. Scroll down to the “Tamper Protection” option, and switch the slider to “Off.”
  5. Choose “Yes” to allow the changes.
  6. Use the “x” in the top right to close the window.

Now complete these pre-steps before editing the registry:

  1. Right-click on the “Start” menu.
  2. Select “Run,” and type “regedit” in the text field, then hit “Enter.”
  3. In the Registry Editor, enter the following path in the address field:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Defender

To edit or add a value to this folder, you’ll need to change the owner first. By default, the owner is “System.” Follow these steps to change the folder owner:

  1. Right-click on the “Windows Defender” folder and choose “Permissions.”
  2. Click on “Advanced” in the “Permissions for Windows Defender” window.
  3. In the “Owner” field, click “Change.”
  4. In the “Advanced Security Settings for Windows Defender” window, click “Advanced.”
  5. Click “Find Now,” then select the admin account or the admin’s group.
  6. Click “OK,” then “OK” again to confirm the changes.
  7. Check the box next to “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects.”
  8. Check the box next to “Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object.”
  9. Click “Apply,” then in the “Windows Security” warning popup, click “Yes.”
  10. Click “OK” again to close the advanced security settings window.
  11. Now, navigate to the “Permissions for Windows Defender” window, under the “Permissions for Everyone” section.
  12. And to grant users complete control by checking “Allow” beside the “Full Control” option.
  13. Click “Apply” and “OK” to confirm the change.

Finally, to edit the registry:

  1. Continuing from the “Windows Defender” branch in the “Registry Editor,” create three “DWORD (32-bit)” values. To do this, right-click any white space within the right pane, and select “New,” then the “DWORD (32-bit) Value” option.

    Name the new values as follows:
    • DisableAntiVirus
    • DisableAntiSpyware
    • ServiceStartStates
  2. Right-click each value, select “Modify,” then change the “Value data” field to “1,” then “OK.”
  3. Now close the “Registry Editor” and restart your computer.

Once your computer restarts, the “Windows Defender” will be disabled.

Disable Windows Defender Using Autoruns

You can also permanently disable Windows Defender using the “Autoruns for Windows” utility tool. Here’s how:

  1. Download the latest version of Autoruns for Windows.
  2. Open the downloaded file and right-click on the “Autoruns” folder to “Extract All.” Consider extracting the folder to your desktop for easy access.

Now you’ll need to disable permanent protection and boot in safe mode, to do this:

  1. Press the Windows icon from the taskbar, then choose “Settings.”
  2. Choose “Privacy & security,” “Windows Security,” then “Virus & threat protection.”
  3. Under the “Virus & threat protection” section, select “Manage settings.”
  4. Press the “Real-time Protection” and “Tamper Protection” sliders to deactivate them.
  5. Next, to put your computer in “Safe Mode,” enter a search to find the “System Configuration” app, then open it.
  6. In “System Configuration,” select the “Boot” tab.
  7. Under “Boot options,” check the “Safe boot” box, and the “Minimal” option will set automatically.
  8. Hit “Apply,” “OK,” then “Restart.”
  9. Open the “Autoruns” folder on your desktop, click the “Autoruns64.exe” file, then “Run” to start it.
  10. An “Autoruns License Agreement” window will display. If you agree with the terms, click “Agree” to continue.
  11. In the “Autoruns” window, choose the “Services” tab.
  12. By default, Windows services are hidden. To make them visible, click on “Options” from the main menu, then uncheck the “Hide Windows Entries.”
  13. Go through the list of services for Windows Defender and uncheck the “WinDefend” box. This will disable the automatic startup for Windows Defender each time the computer reboots.
  14. Now close “Autoruns,” then reboot your computer into normal mode.

To reboot your computer into normal mode:

  1. Press the “Search” icon on the taskbar and select “System Configuration.”
  2. Check the “Normal startup” option.
  3. Click “Apply,” “OK,” then “Restart.”

Once your computer has rebooted, launch “Task Manager” and check if the Windows Defender service is running, here’s how:

  1. Open “Settings” to see the “Virus & threat protection” status. To get there, go to: “Privacy & security,” “Windows Security,” “Virus & threat protection,” then “Home.”
  2. Verify that the “Virus & threat protection” status is set to “Unknown.”

Note: Avoid clicking on the Defender tile as it updates its information or displays the “Unknown” status. If you click on it during that time, Defender will be enabled again.

Time to Stop Defending Windows Defender

The free antivirus software Windows Defender, by default, is set to remain enabled even after being turned off via “Virus & threat protection.” To stop Windows Defender for good requires a permanent or “hard” deactivate. This can be done by updating the policy, modifying the registry, or disabling it using the “Autoruns for Windows” utility tool. Any of these three methods ensures Defender will not reactivate at will.

What antivirus program do you prefer? Have you found an alternative to Windows Defender, and if so, why do you think it’s better? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

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