Why & How to Disable Windows Defender in Windows 10

Every Windows 10 user should know how to disable Windows Defender in Windows 10. Use this guide to learn how to turn off Microsoft’s antivirus for good.

Windows Defender is the security suite that Microsoft puts in every version of Windows. Download something through Microsoft Edge and it is Windows Defender that scans it to confirm it isn’t a virus. Windows Defender is also an on-demand virus scanner. If you ever think that you have a virus, you can have it scan your entire PC for security risks.

Why Turn Off Windows Defender

Despite its essential role in Windows security, there are good reasons to disable Windows Defender.

You should disable Windows Defender if you plan to install another virus app. If you don’t, expect problems to occur. Windows 10 might fail to install updates. Windows Defender and your new virus program might identify each other as something malicious too. You don’t want that.

Read: How to Scan for Viruses in Windows 10

It also makes sense to disable Windows Defender if you don’t plan to connect your Windows 10 PC to the internet. Windows 10 has a built-in kiosk mode for those situations. Just make sure you turn Defender back on if you ever change your mind.

Here’s how to disable Windows Defender in Windows 10.

How to Disable Windows Defender

There are three methods you can use to disable Windows Defender on your Windows 10 PC. All three of them are available to you if you have installed the latest updates on your PC. If you’re missing an option, connect your PC to the internet and download all your pending updates before you use this guide. The latest update is the Spring Creators Update.

  • How to Disable Windows Defender Using the Settings App
  • How to Disable Windows Defender Using Group Policy
  • How to Disable Windows Defender Using the Registry
  • How to Delete Windows Defender Definitions & Downloads

Before continuing, make sure you’re comfortable with disabling Windows Defender.

How to Disable Windows Defender Using the Settings App

The easiest way to disable Windows Defender is to use the Settings app. That’s the app Microsoft is slowly replacing the Control Panel with.

Click on the Start button in the bottom-left corner of your screen. Pressing the Windows key on your keyboard also opens Start.

Click the Settings cog on the left edge of the Start Menu. If it’s not there, find the Settings app in the list of installed apps on the Start Menu.

Inside the Settings app, click on Update & Security. It’s the last menu option in the bottom row of settings.

Tap or click on Windows Security in the menu. It’s the second option from the top of the menu on the left. Microsoft recently renamed Windows Defender to Windows Security, so don’t be alarmed by the new name.

Click on the Windows Defender Security Center button at the top of your screen. Selecting this button will open yet another app.

Welcome to Windows Defender Security Center Control. Click on the  Settings option in the bottom-left corner of the app.

Don’t click any of the check boxes or toggles you see here. These will only disable Windows Defender’s notifications. Instead, click on the Virus & Threat Protection Settings link.

Click the Real-Time Protection, Cloud-Delivered Protection and Automatic Sample Submission switches to turn Windows Defender off.

Read: How to Remove Pre-installed Windows 10 Apps & Games

How to Disable Windows Defender Using Group Policy

Group Policy also allows you to disable Windows Defender. Only Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education have this feature. If you’ve never used Group Policy before, definitely avoid this method.

Click on the search box in the bottom-left corner of your screen.

Type Run into the search box. Click on Run in the pop-up menu.

Enter gpedit.msc into Run and tap the enter key on your keyboard.

Click on Computer Configuration.

Click on Administrative Templates.

Click on Windows Components.

Scroll down the list until you see Windows Defender Antivirus and double-click on it.

Now double-click Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus.

Select the Enabled button on the left edge of the window and click Ok.

You’ve now used Group Policy to disable Windows Defender. A notification will appear in the system tray letting you know that you don’t have any virus protection turned on. This button will disappear after you restart your PC.

How to Disable Windows Defender Using the Registry

Every Windows 10 PC has a registry and you can use it to change settings and disable Windows Defender. If you use this method, make sure you’re incredibly careful. Use Gotta Be Mobile’s How to Create a Full Back Up of Your Windows 10 PC guide to create a restore drive with all your files in case something goes wrong.

Click on the search box in the bottom-left corner of your screen.

Type Regedit in the box and right-click on the Registry Editor in the results. Select Run as Administrator.


Click on SOFTWARE.

Click on Policies.

Click on Microsoft.

Click on Windows Defender.

Double-click on DisableAntiSpyware. You might have to create your own key by right-clicking on any empty area in the window. If you do need to create a key, select New. Select DWORD next. Give the key the DisableAntiSpyware name and double-click on it.

Replace the 0 in the Value Data field with 1 and click Ok.

If you followed the steps correctly, Windows Defender is completely off after you restart your PC.

Read: Is Windows 10 Safe?

How to Delete Windows Defender Definitions & Downloads with Storage Sense

Now it’s time to delete the files that Windows Defender uses for its scans. These files don’t take up much space, but you should get rid of them if you aren’t keeping the utility on anyway.

Click on the search box and type Storage. Click on the top results.

Click on the storage meter labeled This PC at the top of the Settings app.

Wait for the tool to examine your drive and select Temporary Files from the list of options running along the left side of your screen.

Uncheck all boxes except Windows Defender Antivirus. Click on the Remove Files button.

Read: 56 Best Windows 10 Apps in 2018

5 Best Free Antivirus Programs for Windows

Free AVG 2017

Free AVG 2017

 AVG has been available for a while now. You may have seen a boxed copy of the software at an office superstore or an electronics retailer years ago. Free AVG 2017 is available online now, and it includes some must-have updates to keep you safe.

In addition to real-time protection, Free AVG offers real-time security updates too. There’s no scheduling an update once a week to learn about new threats. It's always checking your files. The antivirus program includes real-time download protection too, meaning it’ll look into the files that you’re downloading to make sure they are safe. It can scan for malicious attachments in your email and stop you from browsing to dangerous sites.

The Pro version adds blocking for fake websites, phishing emails and has an enhanced firewall to block malicious internet traffic.

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