These days there are not many uneducated Windows users who don’t install a third-party security software but even if they don’t Windows Defender is there to provide essential protection against online and offline threats. Before we discuss how to enable and disable Windows Defender, let’s take a look at how Microsoft’s basic layer of security evolved over time.
Windows Defender has been available starting with Windows XP, but only in Windows 8 and 10 Microsoft improved it bt merging the old Defender with Security Essentials which was the company’s free antivirus application.
The new and improved Windows Defender wasn’t welcomed by security software developers so Microsoft made it possible to disable Defender when a trial version of a security application was installed on a new computer. This option was provided to prevent any conflicts between the two security programs.
Nevertheless, if the trial period for your third-party antivirus expires, Defender doesn’t automatically turn back on. This can leave your PC vulnerable to malware infections, which is obviously something no one wants.
How to enable and disable Windows Defender
While there is more than one way to access Windows Defender, in Windows 10 the easiest is to right-click on the small shield icon displayed in the taskbar and select ‘Open’. Older Windows versions display a castle icon instead.
If you’re computer is running Windows 10 Creators Update, this is the new face of Windows Defender. This major update revamped its interface and we can say it seamlessly blends into Windows 10, but it’s also super easy to use.
As you can see, Windows Defender now has multiple areas of protection and you can enable and disable them individually. In our case, we’re running a third-party security suite which is why “Virus & threat protection” is disabled and highlighted in red. To enable it, you just need to click on “Restart now” to reboot the service. The same goes for the rest of Defender’s modules.
However, if you already have another security application running, you should disable it first before re-enabling Windows Defender to prevent conflicts between the two programs. It is well-known that some security apps cannot run properly side-by-side.
Another way to enable and disable Windows Defender, which can also be used to quickly check the app’s status is from Settings -> Update & security -> Windows Defender.
If one or more of Windows Defender’s protection modules are disabled you should have a button called “Turn on Windows Defender antivirus” at the top of the right-panel. You just need to click it and you’ll be take to Windows Defender’s window as shown in the first photo. There you can turn individual modules on and off as needed, and also take a quick look at their status.
And if you ever change your mind and decide you’d rather use another security program, you can come back here and disable it.