How to disable Windows Defender in Windows 7

This brief tutorial will take you through the steps required to disable Windows Defender in Windows 7.

Note: If you’re using Windows Vista, see this tutorial on how to disable Windows Defender in Vista.

If you’d rather use your own spyware and trojan remover, having Windows Defender also running can be a bit of a moot point. This tutorial will show you how to disable it.

  1. If you open the Windows Task Manager and select the Services tab, you’ll notice WinDefend is running. This is Windows Defender. There are a couple ways to disable it, but the one I outline will show you how to re-enable it should you need/want to.

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  3. Click the “Start Orb” and type in defender into the text box. Select Windows Defender from the items that appear in the window above.
  4. Select Tools from the main Windows Defender screen.

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  6. Select Options from the Settings section.

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  8. From the left navigation pane, select Administrator.

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  10. Now remove the check mark from the box labeled Use this program. Click the Save button in the bottom right corner.

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  12. Click Yes when prompted to make the change.

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  14. And now Windows Defender is turned off. You can use the “click here to turn it on” link if you want to re-enable it (just launch Windows Defender the same way you did in step #2 above).
  15. Now if you check the Services section of the Task Manager you’ll see that Windows Defender has been stopped.

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  17. That’s it – you’re done!
{ 49 comments… add one }
  • Arsar April 14, 2009, 3:39 am

    Good info

  • sv7 April 20, 2009, 1:04 pm

    o.k. fine, I understand but;
    my problem is everytime I boot, win7 has a window on my desktop telling me win defender is turned off, click here to turn back on. As well – if I turn back on, everytime I reboot, win7 has a window on my desktop saying win defender service has stopped click here to restart. Its driving me crazy!!! I wish it would go away. I’m using build 7077. I only have like 3 programs installed, including avast! 4.8 home, no other spyware or antivirus or anything like that. Oh and windows firewall if that means anything. Any help? Thanks for your time.

  • Odium April 20, 2009, 6:58 pm

    same annoying thing here about the action center flag.
    can anyone help?

  • Ross McKillop April 20, 2009, 7:17 pm

    sv7 & Odium –

    If you follow the steps in this tutorial and make sure to remove the check in the “Spyware and related protection” that should solve the problem. I’d test myself but I’ve uninstalled Windows 7 for the time being..

  • sv7 April 20, 2009, 9:14 pm

    Hi Ross
    The “Spyware and related protection” has been unchecked. This was the first thing I did, thinking it was a conflict with Avast! Checked with Avast!, they said no conflicts, and to leave Windows Defender on. I still have the same problem. Is the ‘Action Center’ booting too late? (after Win Defender) The reason I ask this is because I never even see the notification flag until several minutes after I boot.
    Thanks for you help.

  • Windows7 May 2, 2009, 12:02 am

    Thanks,it works

  • luzterin August 24, 2009, 9:47 pm

    Hi, all. What if the Tools menu in windows defender is not active (cant click on it) ?? I start the windows defender tab but all the options are not active. actualy i had the same problem on my laptop but it somehow got fixed and i cant seems to figure out how?

  • luzterin August 25, 2009, 3:38 am

    worked it out :) thank you it was the activation i think

  • Ken October 26, 2009, 8:00 am

    Same problem. But, I’ve gone through the steps above to turn it off, saved it and lo and behold the Action Centre warning still comes up. So it ignores that it’s been turned off. Then I thought well leave it on – how much problem can that be? So I clicked turn it on in the Action Centre box but on next boot the same message so it won’t even remember that it’s been turned on.

  • Brandon October 26, 2009, 2:38 pm

    @ Sv7 For those who wish to get rid of the notification saying windows defender is turned off read these steps:
    1) on the bottom right corner of the tool bar is your clock, sound, and network connection. on the left of network connection should be a “solve PC issue: * if you hover your cursor over it.
    2) right click on that icon and click “open active center”
    3) find the notification about windows defender, a bit below some of its text should be a button saying something like: ” click here to turn off notification about windows defender…”
    4) click OK and your done.

  • enscott1030 November 23, 2009, 5:27 am

    Took me forever to solve the Defender/AVG problem, but to turn off the nag at the end of the boot, you need to msconfig it:

    – Start > type in ‘msconfig’ and hit enter
    – Services tab > unclick Windows Defender near the bottom of the list
    – Startup tab > unclick the Microsoft Windows Operating System item that ends it’s Command as …\MSASCui.exe
    – reboot and enjoy your PC in it’s nag-free wonderfulness :P

  • John M November 25, 2009, 8:38 pm

    Thank you! This is exactly what I need – exact, concise step by step instructions to turn it off. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • mnjrupp December 14, 2009, 10:32 am

    Defender has saved my life on multiple occasions. I’m running 7 on a new Toshiba and got a trojan on a download that nothing else detected. The funny thing was that it was turned off by default from the factory. Once I turned it on and updated the detection database, it almost immediately found the “Renos.JW TrojanDownloader”

  • Ken December 14, 2009, 12:28 pm

    For enscott1030

    Thanks for that – I had a go at it but I found everything already in the state you described and I still have the annoying “not active turn it on” message every single boot. I wish there was a way to completely uninstall this defender program but it doesn’t even appear on the installed programs list. I also wish that folks at MS would pay attention to sites like this and come up with solutions (for a change). Seems to me that by now there should have been an update that fixed this problem for all users. Ugh to everything MS…

  • Z-Boy January 3, 2010, 1:44 am

    At last! A simple clean explanation and clear instructions.

  • Henrik January 11, 2010, 1:09 am

    Thank you! A simple and informative explanation!
    All i needed :)

  • Sima February 2, 2010, 4:55 am

    my windows 7 is active, but in windows defender , “tools” and other buttons are gray out, what should I do?

  • Joe February 7, 2010, 7:53 am

    Thanks enscott1030, great instructions…would be nice if MSSE fixed it for you. Too bad your instructions are buried in a long list of not-to-helpful info.

  • Dave Lewis March 10, 2010, 4:30 pm

    windows defender is piontless and thanks for helping me turn it off

  • Damir April 22, 2010, 12:41 pm

    My windows 7 is activated, but like Sima said, in windows defender, “tools” button is grayed out. I want to install Avira AntiVir but i can’t do it because Avira wants to turn off Windows Defender and like I have just said I can’t do it because “Tools” button in Windows Defender is not active (it is grayed out, it is not possible to press-click it).
    How to get usable “Tools” button in Windows Defender?

  • Brian May 29, 2010, 10:21 pm

    Ok windows defender is turned off but I’m getting a box that says windows defender has finished updating click ok to continue.

  • new2 May 31, 2010, 3:16 pm

    How to turn Windows Defender off in Windows 7 when the Windows Defender Tools menu is not active:
    You may need admin rights to do step 6):
    1) Press simultaneously the keys CTRL-ALT-DEL
    2) Select Start Task Manager from the opened menu
    3) Select the Services Tab on top of the Windows Task Manager
    4) Scroll down until you find a Windows Defender line looking like:
    WinDefend | … | Windows Defender | Running
    note the status Running in the Status column
    5) click and then right click this Windows Defender line to open the menu:
    Start Service ; Stop Service …
    6) Select Stop Service in the menu and notice the Stopped Status instead of the old Running
    7) Now you can install antivirus software etc
    8) for good safety reasons you may want later to redo the steps 1-5) and reset the Windows Defender status to Running

  • Cory June 8, 2010, 3:29 pm

    Thanks, this helped me alot!

  • michael June 15, 2010, 12:33 am

    How do I get rid of the annoying pop ups on my Taskbar? They keep on poping up saying “Danger!” and it tells me to do something. How do I get them to stop popping up?

  • PCIGURU June 21, 2010, 10:55 am

    Great article. My tools was also not available, but after a few minutes it became available. You may just have to wait a minute or two.

  • Neil July 3, 2010, 2:05 pm

    Thanks – have Norton Internet Security running along with Defender (which never finds any problems, probably because NIS finds them first). No need for 2 and even Windows says not to run 2 anti-spyware programs.

  • Andy L August 17, 2010, 8:33 am

    Same as John M, thanks, another annoying piece of Windows done away with. Now If only I could get Windows Medie Player 10 back…… Such is Progress

  • Al Coholic August 20, 2010, 4:56 pm

    Thanks, this clears up the annoying Windows Update always popping up asking for Windows Defender update!!

  • mahesh malik September 13, 2010, 9:58 am


  • JMS October 10, 2010, 11:48 am

    We bought a new Dell netbook with Windows 7 Started and Kaspersky preinstalled. It’s been running slowly so I ran the system troubleshooters. Under “security” it says that both Kaspersky and Windows Defender are reporting turned on and could present a confict. The problem is, Defender isn’t installed on this system! I searched through the program listing, add/remove programs, everything, and I can’t find it anywhere. Is there such a thing as a “stealth Defender” or could there be something else creating this message? Thanks.

  • Ross McKillop October 10, 2010, 1:46 pm

    No, Defender comes with Windows. Security is telling you that there’s a conflict because both Defender and Kaspersky are doing (at least one of) the same thing(s). Having 2 anti-virus programs on your PC can cause problems (and that slownless is certainly one of them). I would disable one feature at a time in Kaspersky (and unfortunately you may have to reboot each time) until the “Security” section says there’s no conflict.

    Disabling Windows Defender, as outlined in this tutorial, can be a bit of a pain. It has a way of re-enabling itself (often with System Updates) and can generally prove to be a pain to disable. You can thank Microsoft for that. It’s not present in the list of uninstall’able programs because Microsoft doesn’t want you to uninstall it. It’s part of their “make Windows safer” campaign that went with Windows 7.

  • natsumerio October 15, 2010, 9:18 pm

    Press start & type “services.msc” without quotation marks. Right click it & choose “Run as administrator”. Scroll down to near the bottom of the list & find “Windows defender”. Right click it & choose Properties. For Startup type, choose Disabled, click Apply, & then OK. Click the red X on the Services window, & that’s that.

  • Thx February 1, 2011, 8:42 am

    Thx You Very Mach

  • Mirette March 28, 2011, 8:13 am

    I have a problem, when I type windows defender in the start text box and then click on it .. I get a message box titled Restrictions saying: This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer.Please contact your system administrator .. And I don’t know what to do .. Any help please ??

  • Ryan March 30, 2011, 9:46 pm

    thanks bro, it’s really helpful!

  • newbie September 10, 2011, 10:04 am

    Thanks to natsumerio. I have been looking for a way to disable this program for several months, and this is the first solution that has actually worked.

  • Happy man September 22, 2012, 12:05 am

    Thank’s dude. worked the first time.

  • huggimonster November 3, 2012, 6:20 pm

    Brilliant, worked first time (unlike the microsoft website, which was no help at all).

  • mjmbadone December 31, 2012, 12:06 pm

    Great job. The question is why with so may brilliant minds do they make it so difficult to do such an easy task?

  • Cooper May 20, 2013, 11:16 pm

    it works, but it displays this annoying message each time I log on that its been turned off. i mean, thanks for telling me, but I really do think its annoying.

  • Jetstor February 14, 2014, 2:31 pm

    Although Windows Defender process wasn’t listed at Task Manager, shutting it down following your tutorial solved svchost.exe high cpu consuming problem on my DualCore Win7 machine, thanks a lot!

  • tugboat July 7, 2014, 11:57 am

    Been looking for how-to on disabling Defender. This is a nicely done instruction.

  • Nikki Hayes September 21, 2014, 11:12 am

    Thanks very much. I now have Kapersky and it was doing my head in trying to figure out how to disable Defender ;o)

  • Daniel E. Fritz February 21, 2015, 3:25 pm

    thanks, this problem was driving me crazy, I lose one day looking for this

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