Windows Defender Operations – Turn Off, Disable, Uninstall, and Remove

From Windows 7 and onwards, Microsoft includes a basic antivirus suite that goes by the name Windows Defender. The name’s pretty catchy, and the features on this software as well. However, Windows Defender is very basic if the features and protection level are taken into concern, and many people will find that this software doesn’t serve their purpose to the fullest. Thus, it might be required to take the Windows Defender out of a Windows ecosystem. Windows Defender does its job well, but if you have a third party suite of anti-malware programs, Defender won’t anymore be needed and can safely be removed from the system.

windows defender

Disable Windows Defender

User could simply disable Windows Defender if it’s not being used, or expected to interfere into user’s processes. The disabling procedures varies for Windows 10 and Windows 8/8.1, though.

  • Windows 10: Open Windows Defender, the easiest way could be using the Start Menu search, or Cortana. However, once Windows Defender is loaded click on Settings on the top right corner. Inside the Settings window, locate Update & Security> Windows Defender. There will be a toggle switch under the title Real Time Protection, just turn it off and it’s done.
  • Windows 7, 8, 8.1: The process slightly varies for these operating systems because Windows Defender is built into system, and can’t actually be uninstalled, but disabled. Click on Tools on the top menu inside Windows Defender, and find Options there. Inside Options, there should be two radio button options, the first one reading ‘Use this Program’. Simply uncheck the button and Windows Defender will be disabled on Windows 7, 8 and 8.1.

Completely Disable the Windows Defender Service

Even after you turn off Windows Defender, some other Windows settings could turn it back on. If you are sure about the security status of your computer, and don’t want Windows Defender to ever come back, then you could turn off the specific service for Windows Defender. To do this, you need to run the Services panel which is located inside Control Panel. You could either navigate to Control Panel and open Services; or just open Run using Start Button + R and writing services.msc in the box, and hit Run.

Once the Services dialog panel opens up, located Windows Defender from the list that populates. It should take some scrolling down from to A to W, and then a to i for the second alphabet; Windows Defender is usually located after Windows Connect Now; if you have that service activated.

However, once you find Windows Defender in the Services list, double click on it and the Properties for Windows Defender service will open. From the Startup Type selection menu, select Disabled. Click on ‘Apply’, and then ‘Ok’. Windows Defender service will now be completely turned off, and won’t automatically come back on again.

Get an Antivirus

If you are getting rid of Windows Defender, make sure your computer has a security software – even it is the most basic offering from an antivirus company. Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Norton etc. are some antivirus programs to mention.


At the job of keeping a computer protected, Windows Defender is pretty good at basic levels. However, if you still want to turn it off, hopefully you now know how to.

Block Adware using Windows Defender

Typically, Windows Defender is an antivirus tool which is made by Microsoft, and commonly included in all operating systems since Windows 7. However, the program didn’t have adware detection and blockage by default since the inauguration of this software, but Microsoft later added this functionality as the number of demand was going too high and Microsoft really wanted to enhance the features of the built in Windows security tool.


According to a latest announcement made by Microsoft in late November, 2015, the Microsoft Enterprise customers are bound to receive the ability to offer additional protection against PUAs; abbreviation standing for Potentially Unwanted Applications. However, though the official release has been done for the Enterprise consumers only, a Windows user can enable the feature on Windows Defender despite being a home or SOHO user. Some registry tweak would be required.

PUA Activation in Windows Defender

Basically, the user needs to enable PUA in Windows Defender if they want to block adware programs, because they are basically potentially unwanted applications. Windows Defender on Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 would support the inclusion of PUA into the system. Before you begin with the process, it is required that a whole backup of the Windows registry is taken and kept somewhere else, in case anything goes wrong and a restoration is required. Also, have backups of important user files.

Once the pre-tweak tasks are done, proceed with the steps as mentioned below.

  • From the Run dialog box, type regedit and launch Registry Editor. To launch Run, press Windows key and R button simultaneously, the Run window will show up and type in regedit.
  • The UAC might appear, asking for necessary permissions to edit the Registry. Confirm if the dialogue box appears.
  • From the left pane where expandable titles are present, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. Expand the options and navigate straight towards Software> Policies> Microsoft> Windows Defender.
  • Once you reach Windows Defender, right click on the folder and from New, click on Key.
  • Name the new key as MpEngine. Some values need to be added to this key so that Windows knows what processions are expected from the key.
  • Right click on MpEngine and click on New again, then add a Dword (32 bit) value.
  • MpEnablePlus will be the name for the new key that’s created, and set the value to 1 for this new key.
  • Exit Registry Editor. Now restart the computer using the regular button inside Windows.

Windows Defender has now been given with the ability to block Potentially Unwanted Applications. Any PUA will not be downloaded into the system from now on, however Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge must be used for Internet downloads for this feature to work. However, regular protection will always work if Windows Defender is turned on and activated.


If you feel Potentially Unwanted Application feature isn’t working out for you, then it could easily be deactivated from the Registry Editor. Navigate to the key you have created following the above method, and set the MpEnable Plus Dword value to 0. If you want to completely undo the action, delete the whole key from the Registry.


This is how a user can block adware using Windows Defender without investing on third party programs. However, third party programs might offer additional features which Windows Defender probably won’t.