How to Turn Off Windows Defender

Disable your antivirus if you dare

All modern Windows computers come with a built-in security feature called Windows Defender that protects your PC from malware. Before you install a third-party antivirus program, you should know how to turn off Windows Defender so that it doesn't cause conflicts. You may also need to temporarily turn off Windows Defender for troubleshooting purposes.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

How to Turn off Windows Defender in Windows 10

To disable Windows Defender in Windows 10:

  1. Select the Windows Start Menu, then select the Settings gear.

    The Windows 10 Start menu with Settings highlighted
  2. Select Update & Security in the Windows Settings interface.

    Update & Security in Windows Settings
  3. Select Windows Security in the left menu pane, then select Open Windows Security.

    The Open Windows Security button
  4. Select Virus & threat protection.

    Virus & Threat Protection
  5. Select Manage settings under Virus & threat protection settings.

    Manage Settings
  6. Select the Real-time protection toggle so that it's turned to the Off position. If a pop-up 'window appears asking if you want to allow the app to make changes to your device, select Yes.

    Real-time protection will only be temporarily disabled until you reboot your PC; however, if you install a third-party application such as Avast or Norton, Windows Defender will be disabled until you turn it on again.

    The toggle switch under "Real-time protection."
  7. Select the Cloud-delivered protection and Automatic sample submission toggles so that they are turned to the Off position.

    The toggle switches for "cloud-delivered protection" and "Automatic sample submission"

How to Disable Windows Defender in Windows 7 and Windows 8

The steps for disabling Windows Defender in Windows 8 and Windows 7 are a little different:

  1. Select the Windows Start Menu in the bottom-left corner of the screen.

  2. When the Windows menu appears, enter the following text in the search field provided: windows defender

  3. Select Windows Defender, which should now be displayed in the search results under the Control Panel heading.

  4. Select Tools near the top of the Windows Defender interface.

  5. Select Options on the Tools and Settings screen.

  6. Select Administrator in the left menu pane.

  7. Uncheck the box beside Use this program, which should instantly disable Windows Defender. Repeat these steps to activate it again at any time.

Some third-party antivirus applications will disable Windows Defender's active protection automatically, so don't be surprised to find certain features already turned off.