When using Windows 10 you’ll notice that it comes with its own antivirus called Windows Defender. It comes as part of Windows itself and runs automatically without you needing to intervene too much. For some, however, Windows Defender is more of a hassle than a help. As such, they’ll want to disable Windows Defender in peace.
As you’ll discover in this article, disabling Windows Defender in Windows 10 isn’t as easy as it should be. Regardless, making sure Defender goes down and stays down isn’t very tricky at all.
Why Not Use the Default Option?
It may seem a little confusing that turning off Windows Defender permanently is trickier than it should be. After all, there’s an option within Windows 10 to disable Defender. You can access it by going to “Settings, Update & Security,” then Windows Defender.
However, if you read the description of the setting, you’ll spot the problem. Windows Defender will only stay inactive for a short period of time. When it detects that it’s been off for too long, it will automatically turn itself back on again. This means if you want Windows Defender to stay disabled, you’ll have to keep toggling this option off every time Windows resets it. What a hassle!
Disabling Windows Defender Permanently
Fortunately, there is a way to make it so Windows Defender doesn’t re-enable itself. It’s not very obvious as to how to do it, but once you learn the basics, you’ll be able to turn it on and off without much issue. Just make sure you do not browse the Web without a functioning antivirus active! Make sure you have something installed beforehand to make up for Windows Defender being turned off.
There are two ways you can disable Windows Defender. The first is via the registry, and the second is through the Local Group Policy window. Typically, the Local Group Policy way is a little easier to perform, but you can only use it on Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions of Window 10.
If you don’t use any of the above editions, or you’re not sure which one you’re using, don’t worry! All versions of Windows 10 can turn off Windows Defender using the registry method. Just follow the steps below, and you should have your problem fixed in no time.
Using the Registry (Available for ALL Users)
First, open the Run command by pressing the “Windows Key + R.” In the box that appears type
regedit and click OK.
Note: do make a backup of your registry before you make any changes.
The system registry will open up. On the left navigate to the following folder: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> Policies -> Microsoft -> Windows Defender.” You may see a folder after Windows Defender called “Policy Manager.” Don’t click on that folder; instead, keep the Windows Defender one highlighted like the following image.
On the right side of the window you might see a file called “DisableAntiSpyware.” If you do, that’s great! If not, we’re going to have to make our own. To do this, right-click the in empty space on the right side of the window, go to “New,” then “DWORD (32-bit) Value.”
Windows will create an untitled DWORD file which isn’t much use to us as is. Right-click the file and click Rename, then call it “DisableAntiSpyware.” Make sure you enter the name perfectly!
Right-click the “DisableAntiSpyware” file and click “Modify…”
To enable the policy that disables Windows Defender, set the value data to “1” and click OK. This tells the computer that the policy that was just created should be enabled, and Windows will disable Defender for you. If you ever want to bring Windows Defender back, just come back to this file and change the value to “0.” This disables the policy and allows Windows Defender to work again.
The next time you try to load Windows Defender, you’ll see the following error message saying it’s been turned off.
Using Local Group Policy
To start, press the “Windows key + R” to load the Run box, then type
gpedit.msc into the box and press OK.
If you attempt to run it in a different edition such as Home, you’ll get the following error
This means you cannot use this method to disable Windows Defender. In this case you’ll want to use the registry method above instead which works for every edition.
When the Local Group Policy window loads, check under the “Computer Configuration” section for the “Administrative Templates” folder. Open it, then open “Windows Components -> Windows Defender.” On the right you should see a file called “Turn off Windows Defender.”
Double-click it and click “Enabled” on the left. This then turns on the “Turn off Windows Defender” policy which disables Windows Defender. If you change your mind in the future, you can come back here and select “Disabled” instead.
Keeping Defender Down
For some, Windows Defender can be more of a hindrance than a help. Even worse, the version that comes with Windows 10 can’t be permanently disabled. By following one of the two methods above you can enjoy your computer without having to constantly keep disabling Windows Defender.
Do you use Windows Defender as your main antivirus? Or do you opt for something else? Let us know below in the comments.