How to Schedule Windows Defender to Perform Full Scan on a Windows PC

How to Schedule Windows Defender to Perform Full Scan on a Windows PC

Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft introduced Windows Defender as a standalone antivirus module. Though it is not the best for an antivirus software, it does the job by providing basic protection against all the well-known threats using its real-time protection. And if you know what you are doing on your PC, Windows Defender is a good low profile antivirus software.

For those who are not aware, the only thing that is missing in Windows Defender is that there is no way you can schedule antivirus scans. Despite lacking the scheduled scan feature, Windows Defender displays a big red warning message letting you know that you forgot to scan your system last week.

So, if you want, here is how you can schedule Windows Defender to perform a full or quick scan on your Windows 8 PC.

Schedule Windows Defender

Since Windows Defender doesn’t provide any built-in option to schedule the scans, we are going to use the good old Task Scheduler. First off, search for the Task Scheduler in the start menu/screen and open it.

Search for the Task Scheduler.

In Task Scheduler, click on the link “Create Basic Task” on the left pane to start creating a new scheduled task.

Click on the link 'Create Basic Task.'

The above action will open the Basic Task Creation Wizard. Here, enter a meaningful name and description and click on the “Next” button to continue. The name and description you entered here will help you in easily finding the task in the future.

Enter a meaningful name and description.

Now select the radio button “Weekly” to set the scan to run weekly and click on the “Next” button. If you want, you can select the other options like Daily or Monthly.

Set the scan to run weekly.

Select the date, time, and the recurring week. Make sure that the “Recur every” is set to “1” so that the task will recur every week.

Make sure that the 'Recur every' is set to '1.'

In this window select the radio button “Start a program” and click on the “Next” button.

Select the radio button 'Start a program.'

Click on the browse button, navigate to “C:\Program Files\Windows Defender\” and select the executable “MpCmdRun.exe.” In the “Add Arguments” section, enter the argument as Scan -ScheduleJob -ScanType 2 for the full scan.

If you want to configure your Windows Defender to only perform a Quick Scan, then enter the argument as Scan -ScheduleJob instead. Once you are done adding the program and arguments, click on the button “Next” to continue.

Configure to only perform a Quick Scan.

The above action will take you to the Summary window. Check all the configurations you just made, select the checkbox “Open the Properties dialog for this task when I click Finish” and click on the “Finish” button to complete the setup process.

Check all the configurations.

Once the Properties window has been opened, navigate to the Conditions tab and deselect the checkbox “Stop if the computer switches to battery power” and click on the “Ok” button to save the changes. If you don’t want to stop the task when you switch to the battery power, then leave the default option as it is.

Moreover, if you want to run the task at the highest privileges, make sure that you have selected the checkbox “Run with highest privileges” in the General tab.

Run the task at highest privileges.

Once you are done with everything, you can see your scheduled task in the main window.

You can see you scheduled task.

That’s all there is to do, and it is that simple to schedule Windows Defender to scan your computer weekly.

Hopefully that helps, and do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using the above method to schedule Windows Defender.

Vamsi Krishna Vamsi Krishna

Vamsi is a tech and WordPress geek who enjoys writing how-to guides and messing with his computer and software in general. When not writing for MTE, he writes for he shares tips, tricks, and lifehacks on his own blog Stugon.


  1. Definition Update does not seem to happen all the time and had to update it manually. How about scheduling the Windows Defender update? Is this possible

  2. Navigate to the directory and run MpCmd.exe /? for help

    The option for for updates:

    -SignatureUpdate Checks for new definition updates

    Usage and all options listed below:

    C:\Program Files\Windows Defender>MpCmdRun.exe /?
    Windows Defender Command Line Utility (c)2006-2008 Microsoft Corp
    Use this tool to automate and troubleshoot Windows Defender

    MpCmdRun.exe [command] [-options]

    Command Description
    -? / -h Displays all available options for this tool
    -Trace [-Grouping #] [-Level #] Starts diagnostic tracing
    -RemoveDefinitions [-All] Restores the installed signature definitions
    to a previous backup copy or to the original
    default set of signatures
    -RestoreDefaults Resets the registry values for
    Windows Defender
    settings to known good defaults
    -SignatureUpdate Checks for new definition updates
    -Scan [-ScanType] Scans for malicious software
    -GetFiles Collects support information

    Additional Information:

    Support information will be in the following directory:
    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Support

    -Scan [-ScanType]
    0 Default, according to your configuration
    1 Quick scan
    2 Full system scan

    -Trace [-Grouping value] [-Level value]
    Begins tracing Windows Defender’s actions.
    You can specify the components for which tracing is enabled and
    how much information is recorded.
    If no component is specified, all the components will be logged.
    If no level is specified, the Error, Warning and Informational levels
    will be logged. The data will be stored in the support directory
    as a file having the current timestamp in its name and bearing
    the extension BIN.

    0x1 Service
    0x2 Malware Protection Engine
    0x4 User Interface
    0x8 Real-Time Protection
    0x10 Scheduled actions

    0x1 Errors
    0x2 Warnings
    0x4 Informational messages
    0x8 Function calls
    0x10 Verbose

    Gathers the following log files and packages them together in a
    compressed file in the support directory

    – Any trace files from Windows Defender
    – The Windows Update history log
    – All WinDefend or WinDefendRtp events from the
    System and Application event log
    – All relevant Windows Defender registry locations
    – The log file of this tool
    – The log file of the signature update helper tool

    Restores the last set of signature definitions

    Removes any installed signature and engine files.Use this
    option if you have difficulties trying to update signatures.

    Resets all configuration options to their default values; this is the
    equivalent of running Windows Defender setup

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