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Turning Off Windows Defender

written by: Tony J Palazzo•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 3/8/2010

If you’ve got your own computer security system set up and running and would prefer not to use Windows Defender, you will most likely want to shut if off to avoid running duplicate antispyware processes. Turning off Windows Defender is simple, although some fundamental precautions should be taken.

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    Find a Suitable Replacement

    If you’ve already taken this step and have confirmed that your replacement software is installed and operational, you can skip this section and the following one to get right to the instructions on how to turn off Windows Defender. If you’re unsure of what available software to use, you might want to consider an anti-malware program that functions as both an antispyware and antivirus utility. Windows Defender is strictly antispyware.

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    Possible Scenarios

    Windows Defender can be replaced by a third-party antispyware application, such as freeware Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or Spybot Search and Destroy, and a separate antivirus program, such as Avira Antivirus. If you want the convenience of scanning your system for infections of both types using one program, AVG Free Antivirus and Antispyware is an excellent choice. Whatever you may choose to install, it’s a good idea to check that Windows Security Center acknowledges your software and confirms that it is turned on.

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    Uncheck One

    How to turn off Windows Defender You can access Windows Defender either by using the Start Menu and navigating to Programs/All Programs, or going through the Control Panel. When Windows Defender opens, select the Tools option from the menu, and then select Options. When the Options window opens, scroll down to the bottom section, labeled “Administrator options.”

    Under Administrator options, uncheck the box labeled “Use Windows Defender,” and click the “Save” button. Windows may then prompt you to supply an administrator password. Once you’ve saved the new settings, the program will display a window indicating that Windows Defender is turned off. The window will also alert you that the program, when shut off, won’t protect you, because it is off, and it will provide a link to turn the program back on. If this message has you rethinking your decision to turn it off, you can click the link and turn it back on. Otherwise, ignore the message and click close.

    The above method is the simplest and most direct way to do it. There’s no need to bother with going into Administrative Tools, shutting down the Windows Defender Service, and disabling it in Startup.

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    Windows Security Center

    How to turn off Windows Defender By navigating to the Control Panel and clicking on Windows Security Center, you can verify whether your replacement application is protecting you from spyware. If the ‘Malware protection’ module is green and displaying an ‘on’ status, your antispyware and antivirus programs are operational. If this module appears red and displays a “check status” message, you’ll need to check the status of your software to make sure it’s functioning properly.

    Now that you know how to turn off Windows Defender, and you’ve set your system up with internet security that’s more to your liking, keep in mind that, should you become dissatisfied with the performance of you third-party software, you can always enable Windows Defender the same way you disabled it; the only difference is in placing the check in the box you previously unchecked. That's all there is to it!