How To Uninstall, Disable, and Remove Windows Defender

If you’re already running a full anti-malware suite, you might not even realize that Windows Defender is already installed with Windows, and is probably wasting precious resources. Here’s how to get rid of it.

Now, just to be clear, we’re not saying that we hate Windows Defender. Some spyware protection is better than none, and it’s built in and free! But… if you are already running something that provides great anti-malware protection, there’s no need to have more than one application running at a time.

Run Malwarebytes Alongside Your Antivirus for Maximum Protection

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Running antivirus is still very important, but these days the really active threats are from spyware, adware, crapware, and the worst of all: ransomware. That’s where Malwarebytes comes in.

Malwarebytes not only protects your computer from malware, but does a better job of cleaning up an infected computer than anything else on the market. And it doesn’t just work on PCs — they have a Mac version too.

And to protect your browser against zero-day exploits, Malwarebytes also includes Anti-Exploit and Anti-Ransomware features, which can stop drive-by attacks cold. And best of all, you can run Malwarebytes alongside your existing antivirus to keep yourself fully protected.

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How to Disable Windows Defender in Windows 10

Open up Windows Defender using the Start Menu search, and then click on Settings in the top right of the window.

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You’ll be presented with the Settings dialog. You could also get here from Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Defender, of course.

Now just toggle that Real-time protection setting to Off. You can also turn off the Cloud-based Protection item if you want.

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How to Disable Windows Defender in Windows 7 or 8

Unfortunately, Windows Defender is completely built into Windows, and you’re not going to actually uninstall it. What we can do, however, is disable it.

Open up Windows Defender, go to Tools on the top menu, and then click on Options.

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Now click on Administrator on the left-hand pane, uncheck the box for “Use this program”, and click the Save button.

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You will then be told that the program is turned off. Awesome!

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If you really, really want to make sure that it never comes back, you can also open up the Services panel through Control Panel, or by typing services.msc into the Start Menu search or run boxes. Find Windows Defender in the list and double-click on it…

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And then you can change Startup type to Disabled.

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Now again, we’re not necessarily advocating that you get rid of Windows Defender. Make sure you keep yourself protected from malware!

Make Sure You Are Using Antivirus

You do not want to run without an antivirus. There is simply too much malware out there to browse the web without some type of protection.

Kaspersky and Bitdefender consistently rank in the top of both the AV-Test and AV-Comparatives rankings, and we’ve used both products with good results. They aren’t free, but most of the free antivirus out there is bundling extra nonsense or trying to redirect your search engine to their “secure” solution that isn’t really secure and just shows you more ads or spies on your shopping habits.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/28/14
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