large image

Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How to disable Microsoft Defender

If you’re using Windows’ built-in Microsoft Defender antivirus, you might have to temporarily disable it to complete the installation of some software. Here’s our guide to turning it off in Windows 10.

Never disable your real-time malware protection unless you actually have to. Some software does, however, require this in order to complete installation because they need to access files, registry entries or directories that Defender usually protects.

Programs that may not install correctly if your real-time antivirus is active will inform you of this, do you don’t need to disable your AV every time you install anything!

Kaspersky Anti-Virus

Kaspersky Anti-Virus

Essential Virus Protection

Our 5-star rated anti-virus blocks malware and viruses in real time and stops hackers, now 50% off at just £12.49

  • Kaspersky
  • Was £24.99
  • £12.49 per year
View Offer

The Short Version

  • Click Start
  • Mouse-over the gear icon
  • Click Settings
  • Scroll down
  • Click Update & Security
  • Click the Windows Security tab
  • Click Open Windows Security
  • Click Virus & threat protection
  • Click Manage settings under Virus & threat protection settings
  • Turn off the Real-time protection button
  • Click Yes
  1. Step
    1

    Click Start

    Click the Windows Start button. We’re going to navigate to Microsoft Defender’s settings through the menus, but you can search for “Windows Security” to get there.Windows Start button is highlighted

  2. Step
    2

    Mouse-over the gear icon

    When you hover the mouse over the gear icon, it’ll expand its Settings tag.The gear icon in the Start menu is hightlighted

  3. Step
    3

    Click Settings

    Click on the Settings button.The settings option in the Start menu is highlighted

  4. Step
    4

    Scroll down

    There are a lot of settings here. Scroll right to the bottom to find the option we’re looking for.Windows Settings list

  5. Step
    5

    Click Update & Security

    Click on the button marked “Update & Security”The Update & Security icon is highlighted

  6. Step
    6

    Click the Windows Security tab

    On the next Settings screen, you’ll see a tab bar on the left. Click Windows Security here.The Windows Security tab is highlighted

  7. Step
    7

    Click Open Windows Security

    You can go directly to each component of Defender’s security settings from here, but we’ll go to the main menu first. Click the Open Windows Security button.Open Windows Security button

  8. Step
    8

    Click Virus & threat protection

    Click the Virus & threat protection option.Virus and Threat Protection icon is highlighted

  9. Step
    9

    Click Manage settings under Virus & threat protection settings

    Under “Virus & threat protection settings”, you’ll see a small blue link marked Manage settings. Click on it.Manage settings link is highlighted

  10. Step
    10

    Turn off the Real-time protection button

    Under “Real-time protection” click the button, which should be coloured blue and set to “On” before you click it.Real-time protection switch is highlighted

  11. Step
    11

    Click Yes

    User Account Control will now chip in to make sure it was really you that requested this. Click Yes.

Real-time protection will be automatically re-activated on your next reboot. While the software informs you that Real-time protection will be re-enabled after a short time, Microsoft doesn’t, at time of writing, publish details of exactly how long this is, so remember manually re-enable Real-time protection if you don’t reboot.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus

Kaspersky Anti-Virus

Essential Virus Protection

Our 5-star rated anti-virus blocks malware and viruses in real time and stops hackers, now 50% off at just £12.49

  • Kaspersky
  • Was £24.99
  • £12.49 per year
View Offer

Troubleshooting

Am I still protected when real-time protection is disabled?

No. While scheduled scans will still run, newly downloaded and installed files will not be scanned until Defender is re-activated. Do so as soon as possible.

How can I permanently disable Microsoft Defender?

While you can’t uninstall Defender, if you install a third-party antivirus suite with real-time protection, Defender will be disabled in favour of your new antivirus solution.

Defender says this program is malicious or potentially unwanted. Should I disable real-time protection?

Almost certainly not. Microsoft Defender has a very low false positive rate, so it’s likely that the program is a threat. If you’re convinced that the program is legitimate, check it at VirusTotal for a second opinion.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.