How to turn off Windows Defender on your laptops and desktops

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How to turn off Windows Defender on your laptops and desktops

Windows Defender is Microsoft’s built-in antivirus software for Windows desktops and laptops, which safeguards them against malware attacks and other security threats.  

Now, Defender is turned on by default in your systems. And you should keep it on as well, to ensure real-time protection against cybersecurity threats at all times. That being said though, there may be some scenarios where you might want to disable it, whether temporarily or permanently.

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This could include installing another antivirus program, troubleshooting software conflicts, or performing specific tasks that trigger false positives. In such cases, understanding how to turn off Windows Defender is important. And if you’re looking to do the same, here’s how to go about turning off Windows Defender. 

Steps to turn off Windows Defender temporarily

If you disable Windows Defender temporarily, it will re-enable itself after a system reboot.

Here’s how to do it.  

1. Tap on the Start button, type “Windows Security,” and click on it. 

2. Go to the “Virus & threat protection” section and then click on “Manage Settings.” 

3. Toggle the “Real-time protection” switch to the “off” position. 

How to permanently disable Windows Defender through the Group Policy Editor

You can permanently disable the Windows Defender as well. However, there is a caveat. It needs access to the Group Policy Editor, which is unavailable on Windows Home versions. Additionally, this method will only work on Windows 10 / 11 Pro and Enterprise editions.

To go about the same, do the following:  

1. Press the Windows + R key shortcut to open the Run window. Enter “gpedit.msc,” and press Enter. 

2. Select “Computer Configuration” > “Administrative Templates” > “Windows Components” > “Microsoft Defender Antivirus.” 

3. Double-click on “Turn off Microsoft Defender Antivirus,” select “Enabled,” and click “OK.” 

Disabling through the Registry Editor

This method requires modifying the Windows Registry, which can be risky if done incorrectly.

Only advanced users who understand the potential consequences of modifying registry keys should use this method.

1. Press the Windows + R key combination, type “regedit,” and press Enter. 

2. Go to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender.” 

3. If the “DisableAntiSpyware” value doesn’t exist, create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value with that name. Set its value data to “1.” If it already exists, double-click it, and change its value data to “1. 

Using a third-party antivirus to disable Windows Defender

When you install a third-party antivirus like Norton or McAfee, Windows Defender will get disabled automatically.

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Having two active antivirus software on a PC can conflict with each other. Hence, the system will automatically disable Windows Defender when you install any other antivirus. 

Reasons to disable Windows Defender

Now that you know how to disable Windows Defender, you can try turning it under the following circumstances 

1. Installing another antivirus: 

Disabling Windows Defender will allow you to install a third-party antivirus without any conflict. 

2. Software conflicts:

Windows Defender may flag legitimate software as a threat. Hence, temporarily disabling it will allow you to use the software without any conflict. 

3. Gaming and performance:

Sometimes, the real-time protection feature of the Windows Defender can impact the PC’s performance while gaming or doing resource-intensive tasks. Hence, disabling Windows Defender temporarily will help improve the PC’s performance. 

4. False positives:

Windows Defender may flag legitimate files or programs as threats. Disabling it temporarily can prevent these false positives from interfering with your work. 

5. Testing and development:

Software developers or testers might disable Windows Defender to create a controlled environment for testing new software or security solutions. 

Disabling Windows Defender will make your PC vulnerable to security threats. Hence, you should only disable it when you have a compelling reason to do so and make sure you have an alternative security solution in place. 

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