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Disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

On Windows 10, Microsoft Defender Antivirus is the default anti-malware solution to protect your computer and files from unwanted viruses, ransomware, spyware, and other forms of malware and hackers. While it is considered one of the best antivirus software options for PCs, you might still find yourself in situations where you may need to permanently (or temporarily) disable the protection.

For example, if you don't like the security solution for personal reasons. You have to change system settings that are conflicting with the antivirus program. You are setting up a kiosk device that won't connect to the network, and security is not a concern. Or you are a network administrator, and you have to comply with the organization's policies on some specific devices.

Although Windows 10 does not include an option to uninstall Microsoft Defender Antivirus, it is still possible to permanently disable the solution using Group Policy or by installing a third-party solution. Or you can also disable the antivirus program temporarily using the Windows Security app.

In this Windows 10 guide, we will 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 via Windows Security

When you need to resolve a specific conflict, it is not necessary to permanently disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus. You only need to turn off the feature temporarily.

To temporarily turn off the default antivirus protection on your Windows 10 computer, 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 on Windows 10.

    Disable Defender Antivirus TemporarilySource: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, the default antivirus will temporarily disable the protection, letting you install apps or make specific system changes without unwanted conflicts.

The next time you restart the computer, Microsoft Defender Antivirus will enable again automatically. Or you can use the exact instructions outlined above, but on step No. 5, make sure to turn on the Real-time protection toggle switch.

Although this is not a permanent solution, it is the best option to disable the protection to make system changes or install a program that the system would usually block.

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How to disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus via Group Policy

It is possible to configure a Group Policy Object to disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus permanently if you have the Pro edition of Windows 10. The only caveat is that you also need to disable the "Tamper Protection" feature before the policy can apply.

On Windows 10, Tamper protection is a feature designed to protect Windows Security against unauthorized changes from outside the app. Since the Local Group Policy Editor modifies the security settings from outside the app, the antivirus will restore any changes you may have made the next time the computer restarts.

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 disable Microsoft Defender 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 permanently on Windows 10.

    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, Microsoft Defender Antivirus will disable permanently on the computer, but the "shield" icon will remain in the taskbar because the icon is part of the Windows Security app, not from the antivirus program.

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 is 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 via a third-party solution

If the plan was to disable the built-in antivirus because you want to install another anti-malware software, you do not need to look for ways to disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus permanently since installing another antivirus software will disable the default protection automatically.

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

  1. Open the antivirus website.

    Quick note: In this guide, we will be installing Bitdefender, but the instructions will be similar for any other solution. However, it is recommended to check the software documentation for more specific details as necessary.

  2. Click the Download button to save the installer 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, Windows 10 will automatically detect the new protection and disable Microsoft Defender Antivirus.

Check current security provider

To check the default antivirus on Windows 10 has been disabled permanently, use 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, Microsoft Defender Antivirus should appear disabled.

    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 more difficult to get rid of the antivirus program.

Although you can use multiple methods to disable the Windows 10 antivirus, we do not recommend using a computer without anti-malware protection. However, there might still be some situations where disabling the security feature could make sense.

If you want an alternative solution to Microsoft Defender Antivirus, you should consider these options:

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

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