How to Enable or Disable Microsoft Defender in Windows 11

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Microsoft has offered Windows Defender (renamed Windows Security) on Windows PCs for quite some time now. Since its inception, the software has evolved into a definitive suite for basic virus protection on Windows machines. However, users with low-end hardware may find that Windows Defender uses some of their limited system resources. Whether you’re trying to reduce system workload, speed up Windows 11, or just want to get rid of Microsoft’s security solution, here’s how you can disable Windows Defender in Windows 11.

Disable Windows Defender in Windows 11 (2022)

There are three methods to disable Windows Defender (Windows Security) in Windows 11. Although the easiest way is to use Windows Settings, this is a temporary measure and Microsoft will automatically enable Windows Security after a restart. If you want to permanently disable the Windows security program, see the instructions for Group Policy Editor and Registry Editor. That said, let’s get to the instructions.

Disable Microsoft Defender from Windows 11 Settings (Temporary)

1. Open the Settings app using the Windows 11 keyboard shortcut “Win + I” and switch to the “Privacy and security” tab in the left sidebar. Under “Security”, click on “Windows Security”.

2. Until next time, click “Open Windows Security”. Your Windows 11 PC will open the Windows Security app in a dedicated window.

open windows security

3. You will now see the Windows Security home screen. Right here, click on the option “Protection against viruses and threats”.

virus and threat protection windows security

4. In the “Virus and threat protection settings” section, click on “Manage settings” to reconfigure Windows Defender on Windows 11.

manage virus and threat protection settings

5. Now, disable the “Real-time protection” toggle and the other toggles on this page to temporarily disable Windows Defender on your Windows 11 PC.

Disable Windows Defender on Windows 11 from Settings app

Disable Microsoft Defender via Group Policy Editor on Windows 11 (Permanent)

As mentioned above, after a reboot, Microsoft will automatically re-enable Windows Defender when you use the Windows 11 Settings app to disable it. However, you can use the Group Policy Editor to make a permanent change that persists even after reboot. If you’re using Windows 11 Home, see our linked guide to get the Group Policy Editor on Windows 11 Home.

1. Before you begin, you need to disable “Tamper Protection” from Windows Security app. You can follow the steps outlined above to achieve this toggle. As a reminder, you will find this toggle under Windows Security -> Virus & Threat Protection -> Manage Settings.

disable tamper protection

2. After disabling tamper protection, open a Run window using the “Win + R” keyboard shortcut and type “gpedit.msc” to open the group policy editor.

open group policy editor on windows 11

3. Navigate to the following path and double-click “Turn off Microsoft Defender Antivirus” in the right pane.

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Microsoft Defender Antivirus
disable Windows Defender on Windows 11

4. In the following pop-up window, select “Enabled” and click “OK” to apply the changes. Once done, restart your Windows 11 PC. Windows Defender will stop working after system reboot. To re-enable Defender through the Group Policy Editor, you need to choose “Disabled” and click “OK”.

Disable Windows Defender on Windows 11 from Policy Editor

Disable Microsoft Defender using Registry Editor in Windows 11 (permanent)

Another way to disable Windows Defender is to use the Registry Editor. Follow the steps below to get rid of Windows Defender on your Windows 11 machine.

1. Press the Windows key once, type “Registry Editor”and choose “Run as administrator” to open the program with elevated privileges.

run registry editor as administrator

2. Navigate to the following path, right-click on Windows Defender in the left sidebar, then Choose New -> DWORD Value (32 bit). You must name it “DisableAntiSpyware”.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows Defender
new dword value in registry editor

3. Double click on “DisableAntiSpyware” and set its value data to “1”. When you’re done, tap OK.

set value data in registry editor

4. Similarly, you need to create new DWORD values ​​for the following items in their respective locations.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows Defender]
"DisableAntiSpyware" dword:1
"DisableRealtimeMonitoring" dword:1
"DisableAntiVirus" dword:1
"DisableSpecialRunningModes" dword:1
"DisableRoutinelyTakingAction" dword:1
"ServiceKeepAlive" dword:0

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows DefenderReal-Time Protection]
"DisableBehaviorMonitoring" dword:1
"DisableOnAccessProtection"dword:1
"DisableScanOnRealtimeEnable" dword:1
"DisableRealtimeMonitoring" dword:1

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows DefenderSignature Updates]
"ForceUpdateFromMU"dword:0

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows DefenderSpynet]
"DisableBlockAtFirstSeen" dword:1

5. If you are wondering how to create new folders in the registry editor, just right-click on the “Windows Defender” parent directory and choose New -> Key.

create a new key in registry editor to disable windows defender on windows 11

6. You can then name the key according to the path shown above. For example, if you named the folder “Realtime Protection”, you should create the following DWORD values ​​- “DisableBehaviorMonitoring”, “DisableOnAccessProtection”, “DisableScanOnRealtimeEnable” and “DisableRealtimeMonitoring” in this folder. Alternatively, you can use these ready-to-use REG files people from Winaero.

name the new key in regedit - Disable Windows Defender Windows 11

Re-enable Microsoft Defender on your Windows 11 PC

If you want to know how to re-enable Microsoft Defender on your Windows 11 computer, here’s how:

1. Open the Settings app using the Windows 11 “Win + I” keyboard shortcut and click the “Privacy & Security” tab on the left sidebar. Now, select “Windows Security” under “Security”.

windows security settings

2. When the Windows Security page appears, click the “Open Windows Security” button. The Windows Security application will now open in a dedicated window.

open windows security

3. You will now see the Windows Security home screen. Right here, click on the “Protection against viruses and threats” section.

re-enable virus and threat protection - Disable Windows Defender Windows 11

4. In the “Virus and threat protection settings” section, click on “Manage settings” to re-enable Windows Defender on Windows 11.

manage windows security settings

5. Now, enable the “Real-time protection” toggle next to the other toggles on this page to recover Windows Defender protection on your Windows 11 PC.

re-enable Microsoft Defender

Third-party tool to enable/disable Windows Defender

If you don’t want to go through all those steps to manage Microsoft Windows Defender every time, there is a utility called Defender Control that lets you enable or disable Defender with one click. Here’s how to start:

1. Download Defender Control from the Sordum website by clicking on the “Download” button. You will need a password to extract the package, and the the password is “sordum” without quotes.

download defender control

2. Open the “Virus & threat protection settings” page in Windows Security, scroll down and click on “Add or remove exclusions” ability to add Defender Control as an exclusion. This step is necessary so that Windows Security does not flag the program as a false positive.

add or remove exclusions

3. From the next page, click on the “Add an exclusion” button and add the path to the Defender Control installation folder. Once you’ve done that, run Defender Control from its folder with no false positives.

add exclusion defender

4. This is what Defender Control looks like. As you can see, you get a one-click solution to enable or disable Windows Defender on Windows 11 with this application. In the meantime, you could also Discover DefenderUI (visit website) for granular controls.

defender control windows 11 - Disable Windows Defender Windows 11

Remove Microsoft Windows Defender from Windows 11

This is how you can permanently remove Windows Defender from Windows 11. We will not recommend disabling Windows Defender unless you have another anti-virus software or malware removal tool for Windows 11. If you don’t don’t have one, you can check out our linked guide and choose one that suits your needs. While you’re at it, you can also consider unlocking Windows 11 to improve performance.

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