How-To Geek

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


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.

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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.


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.


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.


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


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


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…


And then you can change Startup type to Disabled.


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

Comments (17)

  1. Ironmonkey

    This program was quite useful in XP – you could check your start up programs and disable them easily.

    Under Win 7 I it’s use is less apparent tho…

  2. cz-man

    It’s very great tip. Thanks…

    Excuse my bad English…

  3. Kafka

    I haven’t seen anything from Defender since installing MS Security Essentials. That has to be build on a lot of the same framework; does MSSE just take over automatically and shut down its little brother?

  4. Kevin

    I used Windows Live One Care before Microsoft discontinued it and now I use Microsoft Security Essentials. Both of them would disable or turn off Windows Defender by default as they would do what Windows Defender would do. I’m still not going to remove it though.

  5. Mohammad

    Thanks for the smart hint.

  6. Ken Mason

    An equally easy method, which does the same thing, is to simply disable the Windows Defender Service.

  7. ed

    The enlightening aspect of this is that services.msc shows I have 63 applications/processes “Started.” Can’t believe all those are essential.

  8. dood

    Since I just started reading the blog almost a month ago, it nice to see some old stuff which reminds me to uninstall defender.

    Speaking on services it would be nice to have a full-blown guide on what services are recommended to be disabled/manual/automatic with an explanation of each one (could be a weekly post or something.)

  9. dood

    ugh meant to post in the the “How to Fix the 10 biggest…”.

  10. John Kirkham

    If you install MSSE it disables Windows Defender.

  11. loida

    i think it’s fixed now! thanks a million re this tip :)

  12. Jesops

    Even when I have disabled the defender windows still tries to install the defender updates? one got past me when I installed windows and I would really like to uninstall it but It won’t let me? I hate the fact that Microsoft has created and built in a program that without asking deletes files on your system no program should have that power? not even anti virus software unless the user have allowed it e.g being warned and asked to confirm before hand?

  13. xciski

    With W-7 SP1 and MSE 2, which disables Windows Defender, is there any reason to have the program continue sitting on the hard drive and wasting space. Is there an easy way to remove it?

  14. strikeone

    thanks, easy steps to follow.

  15. ugh

    Im getting this stupid windows defender is turned off message when I boot windows.

    Well its turned off because I installed microsoft security essentials (like it’s supposed to be)
    but I keep getting this popup error constantly its super annoying.

    If I try and start the windows defender service mse just disabled it again.


  16. Thalha


    You may want to check and look at system startup by typing msconfig on run

    and then removing the defender url from startup tab

  17. patson

    thanks! I disabled it.
    if you get a secret to delete completely
    email us.

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