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Disable Windows Defender Antivirus on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

On Windows 10, the Windows Defender Antivirus is a built-in anti-malware solution designed to protect your computer and data from unwanted viruses, ransomware, spyware, rootkits, and many other forms of malware and even hackers. Although it's a good antivirus for most users, there could be situations where you may want to disable the feature permanently (or temporarily).

For example, when you're not confident about the solution. You have to complete a specific task that conflicts with the antivirus. You're setting up a kiosk computer that won't connect to the network, and security isn't a concern. Or you need to comply with your organization's policies on certain devices.

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Whatever the reason it might be, Windows 10 doesn't include an option to uninstall or disable the Windows Defender Antivirus "permanently" unless you install a third-party solution, in which case it'll disable automatically. However, it's possible to disable Windows Defender using Group Policy or Registry, or even temporarily using the Windows Security app.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to disable Windows Defender Antivirus permanently (or temporarily) on your device.

How to disable Windows Defender Antivirus using Windows Security

If you want to disable the built-in security solution to complete a specific task, such as installing an application, you don't have to disable Windows Defender Antivirus permanently. You only need to turn it off temporarily.

To disable the Windows 10 antivirus temporarily, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Windows Security and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Click on Virus & threat protection.
  4. Under the "Virus & threat protection settings" section, click the Manage settings option.

    Windows Defender manage settingsSource: Windows Central

  5. Turn off the Real-time protection toggle switch to disable Windows Defender temporarily.

    Disable Defender Antivirus TemporarilySource: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, the antivirus will disable the real-time protection, which it'll allow you to install apps or make a specific system change, which you weren't able before because the security feature was blocking the action.

You can always enable the real-time protection again by restarting the device, or using the same instructions outlined above, but on step No. 5, make sure to turn on the Real-time protection toggle switch.

Although this isn't a permanent solution, it's the best option to disable the Windows 10 antivirus to perform a specific task.

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How to disable Windows Defender Antivirus using Group Policy

On Windows 10 Pro, you can configure a policy using the Local Group Policy Editor to disable Windows Defender Antivirus permanently. However, you have to disable the system's "Tamper Protection" feature before the policy can take effect.

Tamper protection is a feature available since the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, and it's been designed to protect the Windows Security app against unauthorized changes that are not made directly through the experience. So, since you'll be using the Group Policy, if you don't disable this security, the antivirus will restart again in the next reboot automatically.

Disable Tamper Protection

To disable Tamper Protection on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Windows Security and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Click on Virus & threat protection.
  4. Under the "Virus & threat protection settings" section, click the Manage settings option.

    Windows Defender manage settingsSource: Windows Central

  5. Turn off the Tamper Protection toggle switch.

    Disable Tamper Protection on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

After you complete the steps, you can continue with the instructions to disable Windows Defender Antivirus permanently using Group Policy.

Disable Windows Defender Antivirus

To disable Windows Defender Antivirus permanently, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for gpedit.msc and click the top result to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
  3. Browse the following path:

    Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Defender Antivirus

  4. Double-click the Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus policy.

    Windows Defender Antivirus Group Policy settingsSource: Windows Central

  5. Select the Enabled option to disable Windows Defender Antivirus.

    Disable Defender Antivirus Policy permanently on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

  6. Click the Apply button.
  7. Click the OK button.
  8. Restart your device.

Once you complete the steps, the antivirus will disable permanently. Also, you'll notice that the "shield" icon will remain in the taskbar, but this is one expected behavior since the icon is part of the Windows Security app, not from the antivirus.

If you need to revert to the original settings, you can always re-enable the Windows Defender Antivirus using the same instructions above, but on step No. 5, make sure to select the Not Configured option, and restart your computer to apply the changes. Also, don't forget to re-enable the "Tamper Protection" feature using the same above steps, but on step No. 5, make sure to enable the toggle switch.

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How to disable Windows Defender Antivirus using Registry

Alternatively, if you don't have access to the Local Group Policy Editor, you can modify the Registry to disable the Windows Defender Antivirus permanently.

Disable Tamper Protection

To disable Tamper Protection to turn off the Windows 10 antivirus, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Windows Security and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Click on Virus & threat protection.
  4. Under the "Virus & threat protection settings" section, click the Manage settings option.

    Windows Defender manage settingsSource: Windows Central

  5. Turn off the Tamper Protection toggle switch.

    Disable Tamper Protection on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

After you complete the steps, disabling the built-in antivirus won't re-enable automatically the next time the device is restarted.

Windows 10 includes a "TamperProtection" Registry key (located in this path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Features) to control the feature, but it's not easy to modify. As a result, it's not recommended to use it to disable Tamper Protection.

Disable Windows Defender Antivirus

To disable the Defender antivirus permanently with the Registry, use these steps:

Warning: This is a friendly reminder that editing the Registry is risky, and it can cause irreversible damage to your installation if you don't do it correctly. It's recommended to make a full backup of your PC before proceeding.

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for regedit and click the top result to open the Registry Editor.
  3. Browse the following path:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender

    Quick tip: You can now copy and paste the path in the Registry's address bar to quickly jump to the key destination.

  4. Right-click the Windows Defender (folder) key, select New, and click on DWORD (32-bit) Value.

    Disableantispyware DWORD on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

  5. Name the key DisableAntiSpyware and press Enter.
  6. Double-click the newly created DWORD and change the value from 0 to 1.

    Disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus with RegistrySource: Windows Central

  7. Click the OK button.
  8. Restart your device.

Once you complete the steps, the Windows Defender Antivirus will no longer protect your system against malware.

If you want to revert the changes, you can use the same instructions outlined above, but on step No. 6, right-click the DisableAntiSpyware key and select the Delete option.

In this guide, we continue to use the Windows Defender Antivirus reference, but starting with the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, the service is known as "Microsoft Defender Antivirus."

Although you can use multiple methods to disable the Windows 10 antivirus, we don't recommend using a computer without anti-malware software. However, there might be situations when disabling the security feature could make sense. Also, remember that if you're installing a third-party anti-malware, you don't need to disable the Windows Defender since it'll be disabled automatically during the installation process.

If you're looking for an alternative to the Windows Defender Antivirus, you should consider these options:

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

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