Home Antivirus A Guide on How to Turn Off Windows Defender
Krishi Chowdhary Journalist Author expertise
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If you’re wondering ‘how to turn off Windows Defender’, you’re at the right place. You might want to download a dedicated third-party antivirus or download a file that Defender deems as a threat. In both cases, you’ll need to turn off Windows Defender.

In this article, we go in-depth discussing the process of turning off Defender – both temporarily and permanently.

What is Windows Defender?

Windows Defender is an in-built suite of antivirus security tools that comes with Windows. It protects your system from malware, viruses, spyware, and other malicious threats.

Defender, launched in 2006, was only an anti-spyware product. However, with the launch of Windows 8, the product was upgraded to encompass virus protection. Today, Microsoft Windows Defender allows you to run full, custom, and quick scans. It also provides robust firewall protection that prevents unauthorized system access.

However, Windows Defender offers basic protection and lacks features like dark web monitoring, ad blockers, and a VPN—features you’d find with third-party antiviruses like TotalAV.

Why Turn Off Windows Defender?

There are a few reasons you may want to turn off Windows Defender. Here are some of the main ones:

Installing a Better AntivirusInstalling a Blocked AppWindows Needs an Update

Let’s face it—Windows Defender isn’t the best antivirus. It’s good for basic device protection, but it lacks real-time web protection and dark web monitoring. For this, you should consider a third-party antivirus.

However, two antivirus solutions aren’t a good idea, as one might detect the other as a threat.

So, before installing another antivirus, turn off Windows Defender—while Defender turns off automatically when you install another antivirus, it’s advisable and safe to do so manually.

You may want to install a third-party app that Defender flags as a threat. In this case, you might want to turn off the antivirus so that you can download the app.

If the app is a threat, however, you’ll be putting your system at risk if you don’t have any other security tools that will scan the app for malicious content.

Unlike other Windows antivirus solutions, Windows Defender doesn’t auto-update. Instead, you’ll need to update your Windows OS from time to time to ensure that your Defender is up to date.

However, if you miss or skip an update, Defender’s potency decreases as it continues operating without necessary patches. This is why we find it’s best to disable Defender and use a trusted third-party antivirus.

Can I Uninstall Windows Defender?

Microsoft doesn’t allow users to uninstall Windows Defender altogether for security reasons. If you don’t have any third-party antivirus solutions, Defender does a good job of protecting your system. However, you can turn off Windows Defender temporarily and permanently.

How to Turn Off Windows Defender Temporarily

Although you can’t uninstall Windows Defender, here’s how you can disable it temporarily:

Step 1: Click Start and search for ‘Windows Security’.

Search for Windows Security on your computer
Step 2: From the panel on the left, click ‘Virus & Threat Protection’.

Click on Virus and Threat Protection

Step 3: Click the ‘Manage Setting’ option on the window that opens.

Open Virus and Threat Protection Settings
Step 4: Toggle off the ‘Real-time protection’ option to disable Windows Defender temporarily.

Turn off Real-time Protection

Note that this is only a temporary fix. Real-time protection will kick in again every time you restart your computer, so you’ll have to do this every time you start your system. However, there’s also an option to turn off Windows Defender permanently.

How to Turn Off Windows Defender Permanently

Since turning off real-time protection is a recurring task, here’s how to permanently disable Windows Defender using Group Policy. However, before that, you’ll need to disable Tamper Protection from the Settings. When switched on, this doesn’t allow users to tamper with important Windows security settings.

Since we need to disable Windows Defender permanently, we’ll first have to gain permission to tamper with the settings by turning this option off. Here’s how you can do it:

Step 1: Click Start and search for ‘Windows Security’.

Search for Windows Security on your computer

Step 2: From the panel on the left, click ‘Virus & Threat Protection’.

Click on Virus and Threat Protection

Step 3: Click the ‘Manage Setting’ option on the window that opens.

Open Virus and Threat Protection Settings

Step 4: Scroll down to the ‘Tamper Protection’ section and toggle the switch off.

Turn off Tamper Protection

Now that you’ve disabled ‘Tamper Protection’, we can move ahead with Group Policy settings to disable Windows Defender permanently. To disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus permanently on Windows 10, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open Start and search ‘gpedit.msc’ to open the Local Group Policy Editor.

Open Local Group Policy Editor

Step 2: From the left panel, click ‘Computer Configuration’ and ‘Administrative Templates.’

Computer Configuration and Administrative Templates

Step 3: Then click ‘Windows Components’ and scroll down to find the ‘Windows Defender antivirus’ option.

Windows Defender antivirus in Group Policy settings

Step 4: Now, double-click the ‘Turn off Microsoft Defender Antivirus’ option.
Step 5: You’ll see a Settings box. Select ‘Enabled’, Then click ‘Apply’ > OK.

Turn off Windows Defender antivirus in Group Policy settings

Step 6: Click on ‘Allow antimalware service to remain running always’.
Step 7: In the box that opens, click ‘Disabled’ > Apply > OK.

Disable Allow antimalware service to remain running always

Step 8: Next, click ‘Real-time protection’ and then ‘turn-off real-time protection’. Click ‘Enabled’ > Apply > OK.

Turn off real-time protection in Group Settings

Step 9: Click Behavior Monitoring’ > Disabled > Apply > OK.

Disable Behaviour Monitoring

Step 10: Lastly, click ‘Monitor file and program activity on your computer’ > Disabled > Apply > OK.

Disable monitor file and program activity on your computer

Now that we’ve made all the necessary changes, Windows Defender is turned off. To verify this, revisit the ‘Virus & Threat Protection Settings’. You’ll see red text saying, ‘This setting is managed by your administrator.’

Virus and Threat Protection Settings

You won’t be able to make setting changes from this tab—you’ll need to open the Local Group Policy Editor.

Who is Windows Defender Ideal For?

Windows Defender is a good free antivirus solution for those looking for an affordable security tool. It provides decent protection from viruses, malware, ransomware, and trojans. Plus, it has a firewall for added protection.

In the April 2024 AV-Test reports, Windows Defender scored 6/6 on all three parameters—protection, performance, and usability. This shows that the product excels in its field and can be relied on for basic protection.

However, considering that the ways of cybercrime have evolved, Microsoft Defender isn’t enough. Criminals nowadays use complex methods like sophisticated phishing attacks, adware attacks, and identity theft.

To ensure you’re protected from all possibilities, we suggest investing in a third-party antivirus, preferably a paid one. These come with advanced online monitoring that notifies you if your details have been leaked. Plus, you get real-time protection while browsing the Internet.

Windows Defender – What Are the Alternatives?

When it comes to high-end real-time protection on the web, Defender falls short of expectations. That’s why we recommend you get a dedicated paid third-party solution like TotalAV. The basic TotalAV plan costs $29 for the first year and secures up to 4 devices ($7.25/device). It also offers ample features missing from Windows Defender.

Let’s look at a few of them:

Protection From Zero-Day ThreatsPhishing and Ransomware ProtectionIdentity ProtectionAd Blocker

Unlike Microsoft Defender, TotalAV protects you from zero-day threats. These are security vulnerabilities with no official patches or security updates, which makes them difficult to guard against.

TotalAV scans and blocks all malicious downloads, links, and attachments to protect you from phishing attempts. You also get excellent real-time protection against malware, ransomware, and trojans. Phishing is a cybercrime method that involves sending emails with malicious links, such as spyware or a virus. TotalAV detects such emails and displays timely warnings.

TotalAV’s identity protection feature updates you if it finds any of your personal data leaked in a known breach. This includes your email address, Social Security Numbers, bank account details, credit cards, and so on. Once your identity is stolen, an imposter can devise financial and social frauds against you.

As the name suggests, Total Adblock blocks every pop-up, ad, and notification on the internet. So, not only are you safe from intrusive and malicious ads, but can also concentrate better on your work.

If you’re willing to spend more, you can upgrade to the TotalAV Internet Security plan for a safe browsing VPN and the Total Security plan for a password manager along with the TotalAV antivirus.

Plus, TotalAV has received excellent test scores in independent assessments. According to AV-Test’s latest results, it has a 100% detection rate.

This is why TotalAV is trusted by over 30 million people.

Final Thoughts

As a free antivirus built into the Windows operating system, Windows Defender is great for basic protection, but it’s lackluster when it comes to dark web, data leak, and phishing protection. Given that you cannot uninstall it, you may need to turn off Windows Defender.

If you turn it off temporarily, you’ll have to keep doing it every time you start your computer. However, you can turn Windows Defender off permanently by altering the setting via the Local Group Policy Editor.

Make sure you have robust security in place before turning Windows Defender off. That’s why we recommend a trusted antivirus like TotalAV for all-around protection.


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Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi is an eager Tech Journalist and content writer for both B2B and B2C, with a focus on making the process of purchasing software easier for businesses and enhancing their online presence and SEO.

Krishi has a special skill set in writing about technology news, creating educational content on customer relationship management (CRM) software, and recommending project management tools that can help small businesses increase their revenue.

Alongside his writing and blogging work, Krishi's other hobbies include studying the financial markets and cricket.