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By default, Windows 10’s built-in antivirus program called Microsoft Defender scans your PC for threats in real-time. Sometimes, you might want to turn it off—either temporarily or if you are using your own antivirus solution. Here’s how.

If you install another antivirus program for Windows 10, Windows Defender will turn off its own real-time protection and get out of your way. However, if you don’t have another antivirus program installed and you want to temporary turn off Windows Defender’s real-time background scanning, you can.

Warning: Only disable this if you know what you’re doing. If you aren’t running another antimalware program, you could become infected by malware while real-time background scanning is disabled. Windows Defender won’t find it.

First, open the Start menu and type “Windows Security.” Press “Enter” or click the “Windows Security” shortcut to launch it.

Launch Windows Security from Start menu in Windows 10

In Windows Security, click “Virus & Threat Protection” in the sidebar. Then select “Manage Settings.”

In “Virus & Threat Protection Settings,” locate the “Real-Time protection” option and click the switch that says “On” to toggle it to the “Off” position.

Windows 10 Defender Antivirus Real-Time Protection Option Turned On

Real-time protection has now been turned off. Windows Security will also display a scary-looking message above the switch, saying that your device is now vulnerable. Windows will automatically turn real-time protection back on after a short period of time.

Windows 10 Defender Antivirus Real-Time Protection Option Turned Off

Close the Windows Security window, and the settings should be saved. If and when you’d like to reenable Real-time protection, just revisit “Virus & Threat Protection Settings” page and flip the switch back to “On.” Stay safe!

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Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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