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Few things are as important as running antivirus on your computers that have Windows 10. Windows often gets a bad wrap for having lots of viruses, but that’s because it 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.

Settings App

You can enable or disable the Windows Defender real-time protection directly from the Settings application in Windows 10. To get started, click on the “Start” button that’s in the bottom left-hand corner of the taskbar and then click on the “Settings” gear icon from the Start menu’s far left side pane.

From the Windows Settings click on the “Update and security” link.

It opens up showing you the options available for Windows Update first. Click on the “Windows Defender” in the left pane and then look for the “Real-time protection” heading and toggle beneath it in the right side pane. That’s the toggle you need to switch on or off depending on what you want. Toggling it off means the Windows Defender real-time protection will be off and vice versa.

If you toggle the real-time protection from Windows Defender off from the Settings application, you’ll get a notification appearing in the bottom right corner of your computer’s display letting you know that your PC is currently unprotected from viruses and that you should turn it back on. To do that, you can click on the notification if you like.

The notification is only on the screen for a few seconds so that you might miss it. If that happens, just click on the “Action Center” icon from the taskbar and then’ you’ll see the notification for turning on your Windows Defender protection. All you need to do is click on that notification.

The Windows Defender user interface then opens on your screen. In the beginning, you’ll see a button for turning the protection on. For most computers that button then disappears, and Windows 10 automatically turns it on for you. If that happens to happen on your computer though, then you’ll need to click on that button for turning it on. The button is located roughly in the middle of the Windows Defender window and to the left, just below the picture of the computer monitor.

Group Policy

You can turn the Windows Defender real-time Protection on or off from within the Local Group Policy Editor as well if you like. To do it this way, press the Windows logo key + R and then type “gpedit.msc” into the Run dialog box to open up the Local Group Policy Editor to make changes to the Group Policy.

Now with the Local Group Policy Editor open, navigate to the Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows Defender/Real-time Protection path. You’ll then see an option from the right-side pane to “Turn off real-time protection” that you need to double-click your mouse on so the options for it open.

By default it’s not configured, so you’ll need to switch it over to the “Enabled” checkmark and then click on the “OK” button at the bottom of the window.

Four different types of Group Policies can be applied—administrators only, all users, specific users or groups, or all users except administrators—and the way you do them varies. You’ll still need to be signed in to a user account that has the administrative permissions assigned to it before you can use any of the four options though.

Windows has a Multiple Local Group Policy to help manage computers that are not part of a domain. There are four Local Group Policy Objects (LGPOs) that make up the Multiple Local Group Policy. They are the Local Computer Policy, Administrators Local Group Policy, Non-Administrators Local Group Policy, and a User-Specific Local Group Policy.

All users: The Local Group Policy Editor for all users can be opened by using the Run dialog box, the search field from the taskbar, the Command Prompt and from the PowerShell by using any of the methods available in this guide.

Specific users or groups: The User-Specific LGPO applies user policy settings to specific local users. To do it, you need to press the Windows logo + R keys on your keyboard and then type “MMC” into the field and clicking on the “OK” button. Click “Yes” when prompted by User Account Control. Now in Microsoft Management Console, click on “File,” followed by “Add/Remove snap-in” from the menu. Choose the “Local Group Policy Editor” and click on the “Add” button. From the Select Group Policy Object window, click on the “Browse” button. Next, click on the “Users” tab and then choose the account name from the list, followed by the “OK” button. You’ll then be directed back to the Group Policy Wizard where you can click on the ‘Finish” button.

All non-administrators: The Non-Administrators LGPO applies user policy settings to anyone who is not an administrator/included in a group of administrators. To do it, you need to press the WIndows logo + R keys on your keyboard and then type “MMC” into the field and clicking on the “OK” button. Click “Yes” when prompted by User Account Control. Now in Microsoft Management Console, click on “File,” followed by “Add/Remove snap-in” from the menu. Choose the “Local Group Policy Editor” and click on the “Add” button. From the Select Group Policy Object window, click on the “Browse” button. Next, click on the “Users” tab and then choose the “Non-Administrators” group and click on the “OK” button. Lastly, click on the “Finish” button from the Group Policy Wizard screen.

Administrators: The Administrators LGPO applies policy settings to users who are members of the administrator’s group. To do it, you need to press the Windows logo + R keys on your keyboard and then type “MMC” into the field and clicking on the “OK” button. Click “Yes” when prompted by User Account Control. Now in Microsoft Management Console, click on “File,” followed by “Add/Remove snap-in” from the menu. Choose the “Local Group Policy Editor” and click on the “Add” button. From the Select Group Policy Object window, click on the “Browse” button. Next, click on the “Users” tab and then choose the “Administrators” group and click on the “OK” button. You’ll then be directed back to the Group Policy Wizard where you can click on the “Finish” button.


If you do decide to roll with Windows Defender as your antivirus solution, you should always keep it on unless you have valid reasons for temporarily needing to turn it off. If you have turned it off, always turn it back on again as soon as you can. Even if you think your web browsing skills are top-notch, it doesn’t mean you won’t still pick up in infections when roaming the internet without protection turned on.

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