Few things are as important as running antivirus on your Windows 10 computers. The viruses that Windows users get gives the operating system a bad wrap. But viruses are more common because Windows is such a popular operating system, so it’s frequently targeted by the bad guys who try to get something out of the masses of people who flock to it. All operating systems would be just as vulnerable to the common trick that awaits you when you use Windows if they were as popular as Windows is.

Windows Defender has been around for a while now, but it wasn’t until Windows 8 that Microsoft decided to offer it preinstalled and for free on the computer, so you guys didn’t have to source out what antivirus to install all on your lonesome. In Windows 10, Windows Defender continues to shine and there’s no need to replace it as your antivirus for something else coming from a third-party vendor no matter how much they want to try to tell you that their product is amazing and Windows Defender isn’t good enough, although you could replace it with something else if you preferred.

Windows Defender is already working in the background, running scans every so often and keeping your computer protected as soon as you start using Windows 10. You can replace it if you want—lots of people still do after having developed a relationship with antivirus they used in the past—but the there’s no need to anymore. Windows Defender also has some additional upside with it now being fully integrated into the Settings application, so you can get access to it easily whenever you want. It may even prove a wise choice if you like your software as light weight as possible as Microsoft has the added advantage of being able to manipulate their own products to work more seamlessly with their environments than other companies ever could—we see them do this with the Microsoft Edge browser that is clearly the quickest and apparently offers a battery advantage for laptops and tablet users as well.

Note: There are times when people will want to turn off Windows Defender for a short period, and that’s fine. But you should be very careful about using the computer without any antivirus protection. If you were to go online and start browsing the Web, it wouldn’t take long for your computer to pick up some potential malware that’s sole intention was to stop you from being able to use your computer. I’ve done this myself and wound up not being able to use my PC without a complete reinstallation of Windows, which took several hours and recovery disks because the malware had altered my Advanced Recovery menu. If you want to change antivirus programs, instead of turning Windows Defender off before you install the next one, you should just install the third-party antivirus and let WIndows turn off the Windows Defender automatically. That way your computer is always protected.

Windows Defender is the default antivirus that ships with Windows 10. You don’t have to do anything to set it up; just starting using Windows 10 and it’s already working in the background automatically and comprehensively protecting your computer from all the different types of malware that are threats to your computer: viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, and other rogue security software.

For more on Windows 10 threats and to understand exactly what they are, see: How to prevent and remove viruses and other malware

The following tutorial demonstrates how to turn on or off the Windows Defender real-time protection when you’re using a version of the Windows 10 operating system.

Method One: How to Turn Off Windows Defender Real-time Protection in Windows Defender Security Center

Here is how you can turn off the Windows Defender real-time protection from within the Windows Defender Security center app.

1. Open Windows Defender Security Center.

2. Click on the Virus and threat protection icon.

3. Under the Virus & threat protection settings heading, click on the Manage settings link.

4. Use the toggle to turn off real-time protection.

5. If prompted by User Account Control, click Yes.

6. Windows Defender is turned off when you can see the message that says Real-time protection is off, leaving your device vulnerable.

That’s all.

Method Two: How to Turn On Windows Defender Real-time Protection in Windows Defender Security Center

Here is how you can turn on the Windows Defender real-time protection from the Windows Defender Security Center app:

1. Open Windows Defender Security Center.

2. Under Virus & threat protection, click Turn on.

OR

1. Click on the Virus & threat protection icon.

2. Under the Virus s& protection settings heading, click on the Manage settings link.

3. Use the toggle to turn on real-time protection.

4. If prompted by User Account Control, click Yes.

5. You know the Windows Defender is working for your computer when the toggle is blue again.

You can now close the Windows Security app.

Method Three: How to Turn On Windows Defender Real-time Protection in Windows Defender Antivirus

Here is how you can turn on the Windows Defender real-time protection from within the Windows Defender antivirus client:

Note: Starting from Windows 10 version 1703, Windows Defender is now integrated into the Windows Security app. You no longer get the dedicated Windows Defender client; instead, all the settings from Windows Defender and Windows Security have been combined into the one place. If you disable the Windows Security Center service, it will not result in Windows Defender AV or the Windows Defender Firewall being turned off. Read more: Windows Defender Antivirus in the Windows Security app

1. Open Windows Defender.

2. Click on the Turn on button.

3. You know it is working when the computer diagram changes from red to green.

You can now close the Windows Defender client.

Method Four: How to Enable/Disable Windows Defender Real-time Protection in Group Policy

Here’s how you can enable and disable the Windows Defender real-time protection from a Group Policy:

Note: You will only find the Local Group Policy Editor on one of the following Windows 10 editions: Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Windows 10 education.

1. Open the Local Group Policy Editor.

2. From the Local Group Policy Editor’s left pane, navigate through to the following folders:

Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows Defender Antivirus/Real-time Protection

3. With Real-time Protection selected, double-click on the Turn off real-time protection policy in the right side pane.

4. From the Turn off real-time protection policy window, choose between Not Configured (to enable Windows Defender real-time protection), Enabled, (to disable Windows Defender real-time protection), and Disabled (to enable Windows Defender real-time protection).

You can now close the Local Group Policy Editor.

Method Five: How to Turn On/Off Windows Defender Real-time Protection in Windows PowerShell

Here is how you can turn on and off the Windows Defender real-time protection from the elevated version of the Command Prompt:

Note: Turning off the Windows Defender from Windows PowerShell only temporarily disabled the Windows Defender antivirus. Windows will eventually turn it on automatically once it senses it has been turned off from PowerShell, and it won’t necessarily stay off until you turn the computer back on again.

1. Open the elevated Windows PowerShell window.

2. Type one of the following commands into the PowerShell window and then press the Enter key to execute it:

3. To Turn On

Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring 0

or

Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring $false

4. To Turn Off

Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring 1

or

Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring $true


You can now close the Windows PowerShell window.

Method Six: How to Turn On/Off Windows Defender Real-time Protection in Command Prompt

Here is how you can turn on and off the Windows Defender real-time protection from the elevated version of the Command Prompt:

1. Open the elevated Command Prompt.

2. Type one of the following commands into the Command Prompt window and then press the Enter key to execute it.

3. To Turn On

PowerShell Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring 0

or

PowerShell Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring $false

4. To Turn Off

PowerShell Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring 1

or

PowerShell Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring $true


You can now close the Command Prompt window.

That’s all.

This article was last updated on April 30, 2019.