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Windows Defender is Microsoft’s own anti-spyware 3 Tools to Test Run your AntiVirus/Spyware Program 3 Tools to Test Run your AntiVirus/Spyware Program Read More application included, and integrated, with Windows Vista 6 Free Vista Utilities to Tweak and Improve Performance 6 Free Vista Utilities to Tweak and Improve Performance Read More and 7. Unfortunately it is not possible to completely uninstall the program safely, but you can turn it off if you find you no longer want it.

It’s also probably worth leaving it installed but dormant, just in case you want to use it again at a later date. Once disabled, you’ll probably want to replace it with another good (and free) anti-spyware application such as Malwarebytes Stop & Delete Spyware With Malwarebytes for Windows Stop & Delete Spyware With Malwarebytes for Windows Read More , LavaSoft’s AdAware or Spybot Search & Destroy Best Programs To Keep Your Computer Secure Best Programs To Keep Your Computer Secure Read More .

If you’d rather use one of these and find that Windows Defender is active on your PC, then you only need to follow a few steps to never hear from it again.

Why Disable Windows Defender?

If you’ve got it enabled, chances are Windows Defender will start each time you boot your PC. If you’re short on resources, have your own methods of dealing with spyware or have simply come to the conclusion that Windows Defender is not for you then you might want to disable it.

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I’ve read a number of blog posts, message board threads and tweets where users were experiencing conflicts between Defender and their antivirus application The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs Read More . I’ve also read a fair few experiences from users who are simply sick of constantly downloading new definitions every few days.

It seems a little odd that people might complain about regular updates for what is intended to be a safeguard for your PC, but as I’m sure Microsoft have found out – you can’t please all of the internet, all of the time.

Generally speaking, the program should disable itself (or at least notify you) when other similar software is detected, but this isn’t always the case. The steps below should put a stop to your Windows Defender woes.

Disabling Windows Defender

The easiest way of disabling Defender is through the program itself. Click Start, in the search box type “Windows Defender” and when you see it appear launch it. You’ll then need to click Tools followed by Options.

In the panel on the left, click Administrator and you should then see a checkbox which says Use this program. Simply uncheck it, and click Save.

If all goes well you should see a dialog pop-up notifying you that you must now use your own choice of software 7 Essential Security Downloads You MUST Have Installed 7 Essential Security Downloads You MUST Have Installed Read More to monitor for spyware.

That should have done it, but just to be safe we’re going to disable the service itself as well.

Click Start and search for “run”, once it appears launch it and type “services.msc” in the box that appears. Scroll down until you find Windows Defender, right click and hit Properties.

In the box that appears Startup type should already be set to Manual but you’ll want to change it to Disabled, just to be sure.

Finally, I’d recommend you check and make sure Windows Defender isn’t starting up when your PC first boots 3 Small Windows Tools To Delay Any Program(s) At Startup 3 Small Windows Tools To Delay Any Program(s) At Startup Read More , otherwise you’re likely to get a few nasty errors once you’ve knocked the service out.

In your Start menu type “run” (without quotation marks) into the search box, when it pops up click it and enter “msconfig” into the text field before hitting OK. This should launch the Microsoft Configuration Utility How To Troubleshoot Your Windows With The MSconfig Utility How To Troubleshoot Your Windows With The MSconfig Utility Read More . Find Startup tab and have a look for Windows Defender and if you find it, uncheck it and click OK. If you get a prompt telling you that you have to restart, ignore it.

You should now have stopped the Windows Defender service and prevented it ever starting up again. I’d recommend you now go and have a look for a decent anti-spyware application with which to replace it.

Why did you want to remove Windows Defender? What did you replace it with? Does spyware drive you mad or have you got another solution? Let us know in the comments.

  1. David
    November 10, 2016 at 1:26 am

    Thanks,
    So tired of Avast and other freeware that I opted to buy Malwarbytes and Kaspersky.
    I was advised to get rid of all antivirus programs before installing K. Thanks for helping me do so very efficiently.

    D in Venice

  2. Srinivasan R
    October 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    I have upgraded to Windows 10 recently. I bank online and I found the need to upgrade to a more comprehensive protection tool. Norton Security has performed very well for many years and it was the obvious choice.
    Once I installed Norton Security, I turned off Windows Defender's Real-Time Protection, Cloud Protection and other available options through the Settings window. Like it is mentioned here in the article, I was not able to change the Startup Type in the properties window of WD service. It reads Manual and is grayed out. Also, WD is not listed in the Startup Processes list.
    All I did was to restart my laptop after changing the settings and Norton automatically took over, I guess. I even have a message in my WD program window which reads:
    Real-time Protection: Handled by another AV program.
    Go Norton!

  3. no thanks
    October 7, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    tired of having to update an app that i don't use
    alternatives --
    malwarebytes antimalware
    avg internet security
    comodo
    zone-alarm

  4. acmz123
    December 23, 2010 at 2:28 am

    why not try tuneup360, it's really helpful~~

  5. Tim Brookes
    December 19, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I'm afraid I disagree with you outright on a couple of things:

    "most malware is written by linux "lovers"" - This is an impossible claim to prove. Most malware is written for ulterior motives - fraud, stealing personal info, botnets etc...

    The article is not opinion, but a how-to. I even went through a few of the reasons as to why you'd not want this program around any more. This isn't a "Remove Windows Defender to Speed Up Your PC" article. The title was assembled from the popularity of search engine results - so clearly a lot of people are interested.

    "the truth that they use windows because linux cannot replace windows. is a fact" - Again, more comment. Not a fact, simply your opinion. Even my girlfriend who (whilst technically minded) isn't one for command lines and kernels has now replaced Windows 7 with Ubuntu.

    I simply keep Windows on my PC to write about Windows Apps, Games and other things that aren't on Linux. I'd probably get a Mac one day to do the same.

  6. aeschmann
    December 18, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    i earn my living fixing computers (not "repairing" them-sorry kj) and i found that defender is better than many many other free or paid counterparts.
    is produced by microsoft for windows users,and hated by (funny, isn't it?) linux users.
    why?
    very simple.
    most malware is written by linux "lovers" (i never understood the reason of that kind of behavior),and defender is good at his job.
    this article is a shame, or just an unfortunate opinion (depends on the view angle of judging it), it's nice to know "how to" make not operable windows by crippling it, but it is dangerous too.
    let's disable internet explorer too (it's a shame of a browser), let's disable explorer, windows media player, and so on, and, of course, let's use only software which was created under linux, and think we are secure and tech.
    why not use windows as it is, and use linux on other computer, if we like to struggle, to learn just to use something, and, to look good, to use words like "sudo", "flavor", "distro" and so on.
    and i want to hear from linux guys one simple thing apart the hate words towards windows.
    i want hear them finally speaking the truth.
    the truth that they use windows because linux cannot replace windows.
    is a fact

  7. Tim Brookes
    December 16, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I did state in the article (right at the beginning):

    "Unfortunately it is not possible to completely uninstall the program safely, but you can turn it off if you find you no longer want it."

  8. Kj
    December 16, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Because, Charles, some of us are running 2002 laptops that are tweaked and we don't need stuff calling home on a phone line or taking up our resources. Plus, I have 'repaired' many computers that have this thing running on it. It doesn't work. Some of us like to have a choice.

    • aeschmann
      December 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm

      i earn my living fixing computers (not "repairing" them-sorry kj) and i found that defender is better than many many other free or paid counterparts.
      is produced by microsoft for windows users,and hated by (funny, isn't it?) linux users.
      why?
      very simple.
      most malware is written by linux "lovers" (i never understood the reason of that kind of behavior),and defender is good at his job.
      this article is a shame, or just an unfortunate opinion (depends on the view angle of judging it), it's nice to know "how to" make not operable windows by crippling it, but it is dangerous too.
      let's disable internet explorer too (it's a shame of a browser), let's disable explorer, windows media player, and so on, and, of course, let's use only software which was created under linux, and think we are secure and tech.
      why not use windows as it is, and use linux on other computer, if we like to struggle, to learn just to use something, and, to look good, to use words like "sudo", "flavor", "distro" and so on.
      and i want to hear from linux guys one simple thing apart the hate words towards windows.
      i want hear them finally speaking the truth.
      the truth that they use windows because linux cannot replace windows.
      is a fact

      • Tim Brookes
        December 19, 2010 at 9:49 am

        I'm afraid I disagree with you outright on a couple of things:

        "most malware is written by linux "lovers"" - This is an impossible claim to prove. Most malware is written for ulterior motives - fraud, stealing personal info, botnets etc...

        The article is not opinion, but a how-to. I even went through a few of the reasons as to why you'd not want this program around any more. This isn't a "Remove Windows Defender to Speed Up Your PC" article. The title was assembled from the popularity of search engine results - so clearly a lot of people are interested.

        "the truth that they use windows because linux cannot replace windows. is a fact" - Again, more comment. Not a fact, simply your opinion. Even my girlfriend who (whilst technically minded) isn't one for command lines and kernels has now replaced Windows 7 with Ubuntu.

        I simply keep Windows on my PC to write about Windows Apps, Games and other things that aren't on Linux. I'd probably get a Mac one day to do the same.

  9. Kj
    December 16, 2010 at 10:36 am

    This showed me how to disable it, not remove it.

    • Tim Brookes
      December 16, 2010 at 6:15 pm

      I did state in the article (right at the beginning):

      "Unfortunately it is not possible to completely uninstall the program safely, but you can turn it off if you find you no longer want it."

  10. Kj
    December 16, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Because, Charles, some of us are running 2002 laptops that are tweaked and we don't need stuff calling home on a phone line or taking up our resources. Plus, I have 'repaired' many computers that have this thing running on it. It doesn't work. Some of us like to have a choice.

  11. Charles Kane
    November 10, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Really this is one of those stupid uninformed articles which will reduce people's security rather than improve it. Windows Defender runs at such a low level that most people will be hardly aware that it is active, it uses very few resources (certainly a lot less than similar 3rd party tools), is very unobtrusive (and therefore simple to use). It is free, definitions are regularly updated and includes root-kit detection. It runs fine in tandem with AV Tools, even other anti-spyware tools.
    So why is it one would want to remove it?

    Is it effective. Well is any tool of this sort entirely effective. No, it's not. But then nor is your $100 a year AV program. That doesn't mean you throw that subscription out.

    I have come full circle. MSE or Avast are fine. Windows firewall is plenty adequate, Windows Defender is fine. All are lightweight, unobtrusive with good independent technical reviews.

  12. Charles Kane
    November 11, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Really this is one of those stupid uninformed articles which will reduce people's security rather than improve it. Windows Defender runs at such a low level that most people will be hardly aware that it is active, it uses very few resources (certainly a lot less than similar 3rd party tools), is very unobtrusive (and therefore simple to use). It is free, definitions are regularly updated and includes root-kit detection. It runs fine in tandem with AV Tools, even other anti-spyware tools.
    So why is it one would want to remove it?

    Is it effective. Well is any tool of this sort entirely effective. No, it's not. But then nor is your $100 a year AV program. That doesn't mean you throw that subscription out.

    I have come full circle. MSE or Avast are fine. Windows firewall is plenty adequate, Windows Defender is fine. All are lightweight, unobtrusive with good independent technical reviews.

  13. tsaunders
    November 1, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    I thought Spybot Search & Destroy was found to actually have spyware built in. I can't find the article now though.

  14. Aibek
    October 30, 2010 at 11:06 am

    When using MSE together with some other antivirus program you need to add each of them to the exceptions list of the other one in order to avoid conflicts.

  15. @JohnnyPre
    October 28, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    I use Windows Defender Essen. and have no trouble with it. I actually keep Comodo running at times, and have found a couple of things that Defender did not. Nothing serious tho... more of a mistaken identity if anything. I think Comodo gives me more control, and more notifications, and the abilitiy to sandbox on the go.

  16. metahawk
    October 28, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I like MS defender. Yes, it does have all the usual nasty habits that every MS app has but it seems to do the job. After reading this article I seem to have the opposite problem to you. You cannot stop it but with me, it doesn't always start. I often get a pop up showing that it has failed to initialise. I have checked the services and start menu and everything seems fine. Strange little fault. Often I'll find that the castle icon is showing but when I try to access the program I get the 'This programme is turned off window'. I'm running XP btw.

    • Aibek
      October 30, 2010 at 11:04 am

      I suspect somethng might be stopping the MSE from starting. It can be some other security software i.e. Antivirus (very likely) or a virus on your syste,. Recently I came across a virus that would terminate my AV program and not let it restart.

  17. Jer Roe
    October 28, 2010 at 1:06 am

    if you install microsoft security essentials it disables windows defender and is much more effective than all other free options since it helps against malware/rootkits. It has a higher effectiveness rating as well than avast/avg/kapersky etc's free versions.

    • Aibek
      October 30, 2010 at 11:00 am

      +1 for microsoft security essentials

    • Tim
      November 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm

      And where is the evidence of this?

    • Ibrahim Ali
      December 23, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      The Microsoft Inc. told you this or you're an employee?

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