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Disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

Microsoft Defender Antivirus is the Windows 10 built-in anti-malware solution designed to protect your device and data from unwanted viruses, ransomware, rootkits, spyware, and other forms of malware and hackers. Although it's one of the best antivirus software options for Windows users, there could be scenarios where you may need to disable the protection permanently (or temporarily).

For instance, if you are not confident about a security solution provided by a giant corporation. You have to make system changes that may conflict with the antivirus. You're setting up a kiosk computer that won't connect to the network, and security is not an issue. Or you are a network administrator, and you have to comply with the organization's policies on specific devices.

Regardless of the reason, since Windows 10 does not include an option to uninstall or disable the Microsoft Defender Antivirus, it's still possible to disable it permanently using Group Policy or installing a third-party solution, or temporarily using the Windows Security app.

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

How to disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus using Windows Security

If you only need to complete a specific task (such as installing an app), it's unnecessary to permanently disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus. You can just turn it off temporarily.

To turn off the Windows 10 antivirus protection 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.

    Microsoft Defender manage settingsSource: Windows Central

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

    Disable Defender Antivirus TemporarilySource: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, the Microsoft Defender Antivirus will temporarily disable the real-time protection, allowing you to install apps or make specific system changes without the anti-malware solution flagging the action.

The next time you restart the device, the antivirus will re-enable again automatically. Or you can use the same instructions outlined above, but on step No. 5, make sure to turn on the Real-time protection toggle switch.

This is not a permanent solution, but it's the best way to disable the Windows 10 virus protection to make system changes or install an application that will usually be blocked by the solution.

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How to disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus using Group Policy

If you are running Windows 10 Pro, it's possible to enable a Group Policy Object to disable the Microsoft Defender Antivirus permanently. The only caveat is that you also have to disable the "Tamper Protection" feature before the policy can apply.

On Windows 10, Tamper protection is a feature designed to protect the Windows Security app against unauthorized changes from outside the experience. Since the Local Group Policy Editor modifies the security settings from outside the app, the antivirus will restore the protection the next time you restart the device.

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.

    Microsoft 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, continue with the below instructions to permanently disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus using Group Policy.

Disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus

To disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus permanently on Windows 10, 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 > Microsoft Defender Antivirus

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

    Microsoft Defender Antivirus Group Policy settingsSource: Windows Central

  5. Select the Enabled option to disable Microsoft 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 computer.

Once you complete the steps, the antivirus will disable permanently on the device, but the "shield" icon will remain in the taskbar. However, this is an expected behavior since the icon is part of the Windows Security app, not from the Microsoft Defender Antivirus.

You can always revert the changes to enable the protection again using the same instructions, but on step No. 5, make sure to select the Not Configured option. In addition to enabling the antivirus, it's also a good idea to turn on the "Tamper Protection" feature again using the same steps outlined above, but on step No. 5, make sure to enable the toggle switch.

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How to disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus using a third-party solution

Alternatively, if you want to install a third-party anti-malware, it's unnecessary to use workarounds to disable the Microsoft Defender Antivirus, since when you install another antivirus, the built-in protection will disable permanently automatically.

To disable the Microsoft Defender Antivirus using a third-party protection, use these steps:

  1. Open the antivirus website.

    Quick note: For this guide, we'll be installing Bitdefender, but the instructions will be similar for other solutions. However, it's always recommended to check the software documentation for more specific details.

  2. Click the Download button to save the installers on your device.

    Download free antivirusSource: Windows Central

  3. Double-click the file to begin the installation.
  4. Check the option to agree to the licensing terms (if applicable).
  5. Click the Install button.

    Windows 10 install BitDefenderSource: Windows Central

After you complete the steps, the Windows 10 built-in antivirus will disable, and you can start using the new solution.

Check current security provider

You can always check the Defender antivirus has been disabled permanently with these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Windows Security and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Click on Settings at the bottom of the page.
  4. Under the "Security providers" section, click the Manage providers option.

    Windows Security Manage Providers optionSource: Windows Central

  5. Under the "Antivirus" section, you can confirm that Microsoft Defender Antivirus is turned off.

    Microsoft Defender Antivirus disabledSource: Windows Central

Alongside these methods, in the past, you were also able to modify the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender\DisableAntiSpyware registry key to disable the Windows 10 built-in protection permanently. However, Microsoft has removed the option, making it harder to get rid of the antivirus.

According to the Microsoft Hardware Dev Center documentation website (via Reddit), the "DisableAntiSpyware" option was only implemented to allow manufacturers and network administrators to deploy other security solutions during setup. Since the Microsoft Defender Antivirus can now disable itself automatically when adding a third-party solution, starting with the engine version 4.18.2007.8, Windows 10 no longer includes the registry key to disable the anti-malware feature on Windows 10 Pro and Home.

If you want to disable the Microsoft Defender Antivirus feature, you now have three choices. You can temporarily disable real-time protection. You can permanently disable the protection using the Group Policy Editor on Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, or you can install a third-party solution.

Although you can use multiple methods to disable the Windows 10 antivirus, we don't recommend using a device without anti-malware software. However, there might be situations when disabling the security feature could make sense.

If you want an alternative solution to the Microsoft 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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