5 Quick Ways To Enable/Disable Windows Defender On Windows 10

There are times when we want to enable or disable Windows Defender in Windows 10 quickly. For example, if we are installing a software which requires that the antivirus should be disabled while installation (yes there are some software which requires this).

Windows Defender is an all in one security software from Microsoft consisting of antivirus and a firewall. Windows Defender comes pre-installed with Windows 10. And it gets all its updates from Windows Update.

Although you can turn Windows Defender on or off from Windows Settings, there are other quick ways to turn on or turn off Windows Defender Windows 10 or even Windows 8/8.1. You should choose the best method according to the version of Windows you are using.

So let’s start with enabling/disabling Windows Defender using command prompt:

Using Command Prompt

  1. Open command prompt with administrative privileges
  2. Run the following command to disable Windows Defender:
    sc stop WinDefend
  3. To enable Windows defender again, run the following command:
    sc start WinDefend

Please note that this is a temporary method to stop Windows Defender. The service will return to its original state when the system is restarted. To disable Windows Defender permanently using command prompt, run the following command:

sc config WinDefend start= disabled
sc stop WinDefend

To enable it again on startup, run the following commands:

sc config WinDefend start= auto
sc start WinDefend

If you want to check the current state of Windows Defender service, run the following command:

sc query WinDefend

Check the STATE variable. It should be in RUNNING state if it is enabled.

check if Windows Defender is running
check if Windows Defender is running

Using PowerShell

One advantage of PowerShell is that you can deploy changes to Windows Defender on multiple computers over the network.

If you prefer PowerShell way, follow the steps below:

  1. Run PowerShell with administrative privileges (Windows key + X + A)
  2. To disable real-time monitoring of Windows Defender, run the following command:
    Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring $true
  3. To enable real-time monitoring, run the following command:
    Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring $false

The above method will only turn off real-time monitoring of Windows Defender. If you want to completely remove Windows Defender from Windows 10, use the following PowerShell command:

Uninstall-WindowsFeature -Name Windows-Defender

Using Windows Settings

If you want to turn Windows Defender on or off using Windows Settings, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Windows Settings (Windows key + i)
  2. Go to Update & Security –> Windows Security
  3. From the right-hand pane, select Manage settings under Virus & threat protection settings.
  4. Toggle the switch to Off under Real-time protection.

    Windows Settings security
    Windows Settings security

This will turn off real-time protection while the manual scan will be available at your disposal.

Using Group Policy

If you are a network admin and want to disable Windows Defender from your Network, it is wise to use Group Policy. Just follow the steps below to turn off Windows Defender using Group Policy editor:

  1. Open Group Policy Editor (Run –> gpedit.msc)
  2. Go to Computer Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Windows Defender Antivirus

    Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus group policy
    Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus group policy
  3. From the right-hand pane, open Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus and select Enabled.

    Turn Off Windows Defender Antivirus enabled
    Turn Off Windows Defender Antivirus enabled

This setting can be accessed through Local Group Policy as well as Domain Group Policy. The local policy will turn off Windows Defender for all local users while the domain policy will disable it for all systems on which the policy is applied.

Disable Windows Defender Using Windows Registry

You can also disable Windows Defender permanently from Windows Registry just by creating or altering a few registry keys.. Follow the steps below:

  1. Go to Run –> regedit. This will open the Windows Registry Editor.
  2. Navigate to the following key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender
  3. In the right pane, right-click the empty area and create a new DWORD (32-bit) value.
  4. Rename the new item to DisableAntiSpyware
  5. Double-click DisableAntiSpyware and change its value to 1.

Windows Defender will not load after the next computer restart. To enable Windows Defender again, you can either delete the created registry key or simple change its value to 0.

Please note that you can’t completely uninstall Windows Defender. Even if you manage to delete its service or files, it will, most likely, be restored on the next major Windows update.

If you have not installed any third-party antivirus, then you should keep Windows Defender running as it will protect you from most of the common virus/hacking threats while you are connected to the Internet. There should always be an anti-malware solution running on your computer at all times. These methods should be used to disable the security software temporarily.

I hope this has been informative for you. If there are any other easier ways to enable or disable Windows Defender, please let us know in the comments below!

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8 thoughts on “5 Quick Ways To Enable/Disable Windows Defender On Windows 10”

  1. I’ve tried using an elevated command prompt and nothing I do that I’m researching online is helping solve the “[SC] OpenService FAILED 5: Access is denied” when I’m trying to run the sc config commands for disabling Windows Defender

  2. I’m using local administrator account and I enabled local Administrator account as well to test with it and still get the same results, but I did find a way to disable this via registry so I’m good for now…thanks.

  3. This does not work anymore because of the MS introduced Defender Tamper protection in 1903.build 18362.418
    Me and others have tested the GPO method and such and it can’t be stopped at the moment it would seem.

    I am admin on my system and cannot stop it with command prompt, also generated as error that the function does not exist when i copy/paste the powershell command on this topic in order to uninstall the entire service.

    • I am facing a weired error that when opening “Windows Security”, no options are shown. While I try to type “App & Browser settings” directly, it goes inside, but later provides an error mentioning “Unexpected Error. Sorry, we ran into a problem. Please try again”.

  4. Good details and comprehensive article.

    I need to prevent Defender from starting after reboot, the only method that works now is gpedit.


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