How to Disable Windows Defender

Windows Defender, popularly referred to as Microsoft Defender, is your PC’s first line of defense. This free feature comes with your Windows OS and requires no additional manual downloads, tweaks, or setting up. Although it is pretty good at catching some basic threats, Windows Defender has been known to detect false positives at times. This can be somewhat of an inconvenience.

How to Disable Windows Defender

For that reason, knowing how to disable Windows Defender is important. But you will want it back on at some point. In this article, we will teach you how to disable Windows Defender, turn it back on, and you will learn some cool tips about it, in general.

How to Turn Off Windows Defender

Not all people are okay with being protected by Microsoft Defender. Some have found better alternatives and do not want to encounter false positives all the time. Others work in internet security and might want to test certain malware protocols, for which they need the Windows’ proprietary firewall and antivirus software turned off.

Whichever the case, you might want the Microsoft Defender feature turned off – temporarily or permanently. Luckily, you can turn it off both permanently and temporarily, if you so wish. Here is how to do it.

Temporarily Disable Windows Defender Using Windows Security

Chances are that you are one of the people who want the feature disabled temporarily. You might want to let a false positive through, for whatever reason. This is best done through the Windows Security app, where the most apparent Microsoft Defender settings are located.

  1. Click on the Start menu.
  2. Now, type “Windows Security” and open it.
  3. Once the Windows Security app opens, you will see a whole bunch of settings, ranging from Firewall & network protection to Family options. To access the Microsoft Defender settings, select the first entry on the list – Virus & threat protection. From this screen, you can perform scans, check for updates, and access various settings.
  4. You can also manage the Microsoft Defender settings. To do so, navigate to the Virus & threat protection settings and click Windows Defender Antivirus options.
  5. From here, you can turn various protection features On or Off.
  6. However, to disable Microsoft Defender, navigate to the first item on the list of options – Periodic scanning. Then, flip the switch Off. Note that you might be asked to confirm this.

Keep in mind that this is not a permanent solution. Microsoft Defender will automatically turn itself off after you start up the device again. However, this is definitely the best solution if all you need is to let a couple of apps through.

Permanently Disable Microsoft Defender using the Local Group Policy Editor

Some people simply do not want to bother with Microsoft Defender. As mentioned, they might have a better protection option. Although permanently disabling Microsoft’s proprietary security feature is not as easy as doing it temporarily, it is not really complicated, as long as you follow the instructions below carefully.

To start things off, you are going to have to turn Tamper Protection off. Tamper Protection makes sure that an intruder does not change any security settings on your computer to gain access to it. Well, Tamper Protection does not allow you to permanently disable Microsoft Defender. Even if you change the settings using Group Policy, the anti-tamper feature will turn the security system back on after a restart.

If you want to disable the Tamper Protection feature.

  1. Navigate to the Virus & threat protection screen as you did earlier.
  2. Then, under Virus & threat protection settings click on Manage settings. Windows Defender settings 2
  3. Next, scroll down to Tamper Protection and flip the switch to Off and confirm that you, as the system administrator, actually want it off.

But this does not mean that you are done. The fact that you have turned Tamper Protection off does not mean that the Microsoft Defender antivirus is off.

  1. Now, you will have to get a bit 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 to the left. Go ahead and navigate to Computer Configuration, followed by Administrative Templates, then go to Windows Components, and finally double-click the Microsoft Defender Antivirus entry. Keep in mind that, on some computers, this entry will be referred to as Windows Defender Antivirus. Do not worry, it is 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 a Turn off Microsoft/Windows Defender Antivirus option. Double-click it.
  4. Now, by default, the option will be turned off, meaning that the Defender is on. If you enable the option, this will turn the feature off. So, select Enabled in the Turn off Microsoft/Windows Defender Antivirus and select OK.

There you go, you have successfully permanently disabled the Microsoft Defender feature. Even after you restart your device, Microsoft’s proprietary antivirus feature will not turn back on. Of course, by following the same guidelines, you can turn the feature back on at any point.

Using Registry

Unless you know exactly what you are doing, you should not mess around with the Windows Registry Editor. However, if you have ever turned the Windows Defender feature off on older Windows iterations, you probably know that the Registry Editor was one of the most effective ways to do it. So, what happened to it?

Well, this was kept available because you did not have the option to turn the Windows security features off just like that. Some settings were built into the OS, and only a techier approach was used to access them. Hence the Registry Editor feature and all the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” type of settings.

However, Microsoft Defender now offers solutions for both temporarily and permanently disabling the security features. They are relatively easily-accessible, as you can see.

So, Windows has decided to remove the Registry Editor access to this option – it is no longer necessary, and it is still a risk. If you happen to make one wrong step here, you are risking system-wide issues. And with the above-mentioned options, you do not have to do things from the Registry Editor feature.

How to Turn Windows Defender Back On

Whether you have turned off the security features temporarily or permanently, you might want to turn them back on again. Yes, a restart will take care of the temporary solution, but you might need Microsoft Defender without a restart. And, of course, you can revert the permanent Microsoft Defender settings at any point in time as well.

Turning on the security features is just as simple as turning them off. Just go through the steps above and do the opposite – whenever they say you should enable or disable something. Yep, it is as simple as that.

Additional FAQ

1. Should I use different antivirus software?

Windows/Microsoft Defender is an often underestimated and valuable security feature. It might not be the most powerful piece of antivirus software on the market, but it is definitely a line of defense that slows down various cybercriminal activities.

That said, Microsoft Defender is rarely enough for protecting your computer from various threats that lurk out there on the internet. Cybercrime is a real thing, and there are many hackers out there who are just waiting for a perfect opportunity to strike. Getting a trustworthy, quality, and popular piece of third-party software, and using it in addition to the Microsoft Defender feature is definitely a smart move.

Still, turning Microsoft Defender off is not recommended, unless you need to in order to let a false positive through. If you are certain that you know what you are doing, you can turn it off permanently.

2. Is it safe to turn off Windows/Microsoft Defender?

Is the world of the internet safe? Of course, it is not. So, turning off Microsoft’s security features on your device isn’t exactly safe, either. Still, sometimes, it is necessary. Microsoft Defender will turn up false positives, and it may stop you from doing completely safe and certified stuff online.

Knowing how to turn it off and turning it off occasionally is safe. As long as you know what you are doing and are certain that what you are getting through is a trustworthy piece of online content.

3. Is it Windows Defender or Microsoft Defender?

The latest Windows security iteration refers to the software as Microsoft Defender. Up until recently, it was called Windows Defender across all Windows platforms. Still, do not be worried if the feature is still called Windows Defender on your computer.

Even if you have performed all updates, your computer may have ended up keeping the old Defender name. But if you have kept up with the latest updates, all Microsoft Defender features will be found on Windows Defender.


That is how you disable Microsoft/Windows Defender. As you can see, you can do it on a temporary or a permanent basis, according to your own preference. Still, it is not advised that you turn the feature off permanently – it is always useful to have an extra layer of protection on your computer, even with third-party security software.

Have you managed to turn off Microsoft Defender? Did you do it temporarily or permanently? Let us know in the comments section below. Oh, and do not refrain from firing away with any questions you might have regarding the subject.

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