How to Disable Windows Defender and/or the Windows Defender Security Center

How to Disable Windows Defender and/or the Windows Defender Security Center


A lot of Users prefer to use Security Software sourced from a third party, rather than those products Microsoft provide in Windows 10.

While some third party Security software will run perfectly fine in tandem with Microsoft's Windows Defender or the Windows Defender Security Center, generally it's best not to be running multiple Security applications at the same time, as this can result in unstable conditions that may prevent the Security application functioning as expected.

Most Third Party Security suites includes a simple method to temporarily disable their active processes, which is a good thing to consider doing prior to installing a major update for Windows, or even when installing other programs, as if these Security programs actively scan your updates or setup files during an installation, this can sometimes corrupt the install process and lead to undesirable issues which in turn can cause instability for both the Windows OS, and/or the Third Party program you attempted to install.

Taking this into consideration, being able to disable the Windows Defender, and the Windows Defender Security Center manually, even if just for a temporary purpose, can be helpful.

For Windows 10 users, the process of disabling Windows Defender is relatively simple and it does not matter what Version of Windows 10 you are using. However, with the introduction of the Windows Defender Security Center which incorporated other processes such as System Health Scanning, and PUA scanning - if you chose to set this up, - there are a couple more steps to take to completely disable the security processes.


Before we start let's take a quick look at the default Security status on Windows 10, Version 1703, (OS Build 15063.332).

Sample image - What a User only using built-in Security will typically see

img1.png




To Disable Windows Defender only

Note:

This section applies to all versions of Windows 10 (i.e. Version 14xx, 15xx, 16xx, and 17xx).

However, for Windows 10 Version 1703 you can also disable the Windows Defender Security Center and that will be explained separately further down the article to prevent confusion for Users on older Versions.


Installing a third party antivirus/security program will generally automatically disable Windows Defender, however, if you wish to manually disable it before installing the new Antivirus/Security program then all you need to do is modify a single Registry key.

This can be done be using the Registry Editor, or by using an elevated Command Prompt console, or by using an elevated Windows PowerShell console.

Registry Editor
  • Right-click on Start and select Run
  • In the run dialog type regedit then click OK
  • The User Account Control will prompt you to confirm. Click Yes
  • In the Registry Editor window you can type or copy & paste the following path into the Registry Editor address path:
Code:
Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender
Sample image

img2.png


Now simply press Enter key to navigate to the path

Alternately, you can left-click on the Keys in the left pane to expand like so:

Computer
— HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
— Software
— Policies
— Microsoft
Windows Defender​
  • Right-click on the Windows Defender key and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value
Sample image

img3.png

  • You will now see in the right pane a new DWORD named New Value #1 that is currently highlighted. Overtype this with the name: DisableAntiSpyware
  • Next right-click on DisableAntiSpyware and select Modify then in the Value data field replace the 0 with a 1 and click OK
Sample image

img4.png


Which results in:

img5.png


  • Press F5 to refresh the Registry
  • Close the Registry Editor window
  • Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager
  • Scroll to bottom of Task Manager window, and right-click in Windows Explorer then select Restart
This will cause the screen to momentarily darken/flash and the Taskbar to go dark, This is perfectly normal behaviour.
  • Close the Task Manager window
Done!

After making the change above your Security panel which was illustrated earlier will now look like this:

img12.png


As you can see you still have Firewall protection, but your Antivirus is now not on.


Note: To reverse these changes, simply right-click on DisableAntiSpyware and select Delete

Sample image


img6.png




Alternately, you can select Modify instead and set Value data field back to 0

Sample image

img7.png


Elevated Command Prompt

  • Press Windows key + S key together to give focus to the Search/Cortana field
  • In the Search/Cortana field type command
  • In the Search results right-click on Command Prompt & select Run as administrator
  • The User Account Control will prompt you. Click Yes
  • In the Administrator: Command Prompt console type or copy & paste the following:
Code:
REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender" /v DisableAntiSpyware /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
Press Enter key to execute

Sample image

img8.png
  • Next type exit and press Enter key to close console.
  • Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager
  • Scroll to bottom of window, and right-click on Windows Explorer and select Restart
This will cause the screen to momentarily darken/flash and the Taskbar to go dark, This is perfectly normal behaviour.
  • Close the Task Manager window
Done!

After making the change above your Security panel which was illustrated earlier will now look like this:

img12.png


As you can see you still have Firewall protection, but your Antivirus is now not on.​

Note: To reverse these changes, simply open an elevated command prompt and type or copy & paste the following:

Code:
REG DELETE "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender" /v DisableAntiSpyware /f
Press Enter key to execute

Sample image

img9.png


Alternately you can type or copy & paste the following:

Code:
REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender" /v DisableAntiSpyware /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
Press Enter key to execute

Now type exit then press Enter key to close console.

Right-click the Taskbar and select Task Manager

Scroll to bottom of window and right-click on Windows Explorer and select Restart


Elevated Windows PowerShell

  • Press Windows key + S key together to give focus to Search/Cortana field
  • In the Search/Cortana field type powershell
  • In the search results right-click on Windows PowerShell and select Run as administrator
  • The User Account Control will prompt you. Click Yes
  • In the Administrator: Windows PowerShell console type or copy & paste the following:
Code:
New-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender" -Name DisableAntiSpyware -PropertyType DWord -Value 1 -force
Press Enter key to execute

Sample image

img10.png
  • Type exit then press Enter key to close console.
  • Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager
  • Scroll to bottom of window and right-click on Windows Explorer & select Restart
This will cause the screen to momentarily darken/flash and the Taskbar to go dark, This is perfectly normal behaviour.
  • Close the Task Manager window
Done!

After making the change above your Security panel which was illustrated earlier will now look like this:

img12.png


As you can see you still have Firewall protection, but your Antivirus is now not on.​

Note: To reverse these changes, simply open an elevated Windows PowerShell and type or copy & paste the following:

Code:
Remove-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender" -Name DisableAntiSpyware -force
Press Enter key to execute

Sample image

img11.png


Alternately, you can type or copy & paste the following command:

Code:
New-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender" -Name DisableAntiSpyware -PropertyType DWord -Value 0 -force
Press Enter key to execute

Type exit and press Enter key to close console

Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager

Scroll to bottom of window and right-click on Windows Explorer and select Restart



Disable Windows Defender Security Center

Note: This section only applies to Windows 10 Version 1703

Note also: If you intend on doing the following, you need to make the modifications already mentioned in the Disable Windows Defender section of article.

Warning!!!

The changes mentioned here do have some major effects on your OS:
  • The Notification Center will not notify you that your System Security is not running. Keep that in mind when opening emails, files or programs, or surfing the Internet.
  • If you do not install a Third Party Antivirus/Security program, your computer will be vulnerable to PUPs, Malware and Virus infection!
  • The following does not remove the Windows Defender Security Center so if you attempt to open it, you will be greeted by a Blue app window, that very quickly closes again - given it is now disabled and cannot run.
  • The System Health Check will also not work
  • The Firewall & Network protection will be disabled
This brings us to the Windows Defender Security Center which was introduced in Windows 10 Version 1703. This does quite a lot more than just run virus scans. It also controls System Health checks and can be used to set exclusions for your Windows Firewall and/or Windows Defender.

It's relatively easy to disable this manually, using your Registry Editor, an elevated Command Prompt, or an elevated Windows PowerShell console.

Registry Editor
  • Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager
  • In the Task Manager window select the Startup tab
  • Right-click on Windows Defender notification icon and select Disable
Sample image

img13.png
  • Close the Task Manager window
  • Right-click on Start and select Run
  • In the run dialog type regedit then click OK
  • The User Account Control will prompt you. Click Yes
  • In the Registry Editor window you can type or copy & paste the following path into the Registry Editor address path:
Code:
Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WinDefend
Sample image

img14.png


Now simply press Enter key to navigate to the path

Alternately, you can left-click on the Keys in the left pane to expand like so:

Computer
— HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
— SYSTEM
— CurrentControlSet
— Services
WinDefend​
  • Left-click once on the WinDefend key in the left pane to highlight
  • Now in the right pane locate and right-click on the DWORD value: Start and select Modify
  • Change the Value data from its default value of 2 to 3 then click OK
Sample image

img15.png


This will result in the following:

img16.png
  • Press F5 to refresh the Registry
  • Close the Registry Editor
  • Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager
  • Scroll to bottom of window and right-click on Windows Explorer & select Restart
This will cause the screen to momentarily darken/flash and the Taskbar to go dark, This is perfectly normal behaviour.
  • Close the Task Manager window
Done!

Note: To reverse these changes simply right-click on the DWORD Value: Start and select Modify then change the Value data back to 2 and click OK.

Press the F5 key then close the Registry editor.

Next, right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager

Select the Startup tab and right-click on Windows Defender notification icon and select Enable

Now select the Processes tab and scroll to bottom, then right-click on Windows Explorer and select Restart

Now in your Search/Cortana field type def then press Enter key

Check Virus & threat protection! You may need to click Restart now

Restart your computer to ensure changes stick!


Elevated Command Prompt
  • Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager
  • Select the Startup tab
  • Right-click on Windows Defender notification icon and select Disable
Sample image

img13.png
  • Press your Windows key + S key together to give focus to the Search/Cortana field
  • In the Search/Cortana field type command
  • In the search results right-click on Command Prompt & select Run as administrator
  • The User Account Control will prompt you. Click Yes
  • In the Administrator: Command Prompt console type or copy & paste the following command:
Code:
REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WinDefend" /v Start /t REG_DWORD /d 3 /f
Press Enter key to execute

Sample image

img17.png
  • Type exit then press Enter key to close console
  • Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager
  • Scroll to bottom of window and right-click on Windows Explorer & select Restart
Done!

Note: To reverse these changes in an elevated command prompt type or copy & paste the following command:

Code:
REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WinDefend" /v Start /t REG_DWORD /d 2 /f
Press Enter key to execute

Type exit then press Enter key to close console

Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager

Select the Startup tab then right-click on Windows Defender notification icon and select Enable

Select the Processes tab


Scroll to bottom of window and right-click on Windows Explorer & select Restart

Now in your Search/Cortana field type def then press Enter key

Check Virus & threat protection! You may need to click Restart now

Restart your computer to ensure changes stick!


Elevated Windows PowerShell
  • Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager
  • Select the Startup tab
  • Right-click on Windows Defender notification icon & select Disable
Sample image

img13.png
  • Press your Windows key + S key together to give focus to Search/Cortana field
  • In the Search/Cortana field type powershell
  • In the search results right-click on Windows PowerShell & select Run as administrator
  • The User Account Control will prompt you. Click Yes
  • In the Administrator: Windows PowerShell console type or copy & paste the following command:
Code:
New-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WinDefend" -Name Start -PropertyType DWord -Value 3 -force
Press Enter key to execute

Sample image

img18.png
  • Type exit then press Enter key to close console
  • Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager
  • Scroll to bottom of window and right-click on Windows Explorer & select Restart
Done!

Making this change using either of the methods finally results in your Security panel appearing like so:

img19.png


Note: To reverse these changes in an elevated Windows PowerShell console type or copy & paste the following command:

Code:
New-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WinDefend" -Name Start -PropertyType DWord -Value 2 -force
Press Enter key to execute

Type exit then press Enter key to close console

Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager

Select the Startup tab

Right-click on Windows Defender notification icon and select Enable

Select the Processes tab


Scroll to bottom of window and right-click on Windows Explorer & select Restart

Now in your Search/Cortana field type def then press Enter key

Check Virus & threat protection! You may need to click Restart now

Restart your computer to ensure changes stick!


Well that is it folks.

If you are making these changes to install an update or new software, download the update or software and SCAN IT FIRST before disabling the Windows Defender or Windows Defender Security Center!

Remember to re-enable it as soon as possible or install Third Party Antivirus/Security ASAP!

Regards,

Regedit32
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