“Disable Windows Defender” has become a particularly popular advice to the users who want to speed up their computer. Though, not all of them mention the actual way to disable it. Moreover, this trick has become quite complicated with the Windows 11 release. Let’s figure out how to disable Windows Defender in both Windows 10 and 11, and also understand whether it is necessary at all.
How to Disable Windows Defender in Windows 10/Windows 11
Despite some deep changes made to Windows 11, it remains pretty much the same when it comes to Microsoft Defender. For that reason, the ways to stop the program are the same for both OS versions.
There are two states of a “disabled” Windows Defender. First one is the one recommended by Microsoft, and only includes disabling background scans. The second – and the one users usually wish to perform – supposes stopping out the antivirus tool completely.
To stop Defender from background scans, go to the tray and click on the Windows Defender icon. There, choose the Virus & Threat Protection → Manage settings.
In that menu, switch off the Real-time protection option. This will prevent any background scans from running, though you will still be able to run on-demand or scheduled scans.
To stop Windows Defender on Windows 10 completely, more sophisticated steps are required. First, go to the same menu – Virus & Threat protection tab → Manage settings. Then scroll down to the Tamper Protection option and disable it. This is what blocks further steps from happening.
Once Tamper Protection is off, press the Win + R combination to call for a system search. In the window, type “gpedit.msc” and hit Enter. This will open the Group Policy Editor.
In the Group Policies Editor, follow this path:
Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Microsoft Defender Antivirus.
There, double-click the “Turn Off Microsoft Defender Antivirus” config file. In the window, set its value to Enabled, then Apply and OK – this will, obviously, stop Windows Defender from running.
Even after these steps, you will notice the shield icon of Defender in the tray, though it is just about its remnants.
Disabling Windows Defender With Regedit
In some cases, particularly when you have a Windows 11 Home edition, there is no access to the Group Policy Editor. This forces you to use a detour – fortunately, there is one that uses a Registry Editor.
Press the Win + R combination, then type “regedit”. In the window that appears, follow the next path:
There, create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value by right clicking the menu and selecting the corresponding option. Give it the name DisableAntiSpyware, set the value data to 1, and Base value to Hexadecimal.
Click “Ok” to save the new entry, and reboot the computer to apply the changes.
Disable Microsoft Defender with Command Prompt
Aside from the manipulations with system elements, there is a way to make the Defender gone using a command prompt. First, you need to launch its instance with admin privileges: open Search, then type cmd, and choose the Run as Administrator option.
There, paste the following command and press Enter:
reg add "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Microsoft Defender" /v DisableAntiSpyware /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
This command simply repeats the actions you do while working with the Registry Editor. Close the command prompt and reboot the computer to apply the changes.
Should you disable the Defender?
Microsoft has a pretty long history of attempts to make Windows secure. The main tool there was – and still is – a built-in antivirus. Throughout the timeline it changed its names, and now it is officially called Microsoft Defender, though the community used to call it differently.
Even though security products of Microsoft had their faults in the past, the efficiency of a modern Microsoft Defender is pretty good. It is actually one of a few home user-oriented security products that feature zero-trust security and sandboxing. And as it is included in the default Windows package, you can use it out-of-box.
Though, all the pros I’ve mentioned have their reverse sides. While having no flaws when used in trivial tasks and on relatively modern systems, Windows Defender may create problems when the situation is different. I’ve collected a list of cases where the antivirus from Microsoft may create problems.
Key Reasons to Disable Microsoft Defender
Your system has a weak processor. Sandboxing, along with the checks related to zero-trust policy require a noticeable amount of calculation power. While it will barely influence the overall performance, you will likely have noticeably longer program startup in the systems with dual-core or outdated CPUs.
Your system uses HDD disks. Due to the mechanical nature of their technology, HDDs are severely restrictive in terms of read/write speeds. And this completely ruins the approach Microsoft relies on in Windows Defender. “Silent” background scans hit the wall of a slow spinny disk – and become much less silent.
You work with malware samples on a daily basis. All antivirus software tends to be paranoid to any malicious items circulating in the system. Malware analysts worked out their way to prevent antiviruses from deleting the samples – by putting them into a password-protected archive. But the extensive use of AI in Windows Defender made this trick ineffective – the AI acknowledged that the default password is “infected”. As soon as the archived sample arrives, antivirus deletes it, which is uncomfortable to say the least.
You have privacy concerns regarding Microsoft software. Some people tend to avoid any telemetrics present in operating systems. Windows is full of those, and Microsoft Defender is probably its most massive part. Just think of it: the program can reach any file on your disk, and can probably pick a password for the encrypted folders from what you’re typing. A lot of users will just ignore such behavior, but for ones who care a lot about privacy Windows Defender is definitely an enemy.
If you don’t have any of the listed issues, it is better to leave Windows Defender be.