Throughout Windows’ history, Microsoft preferred to defer antivirus protection to third-parties, so it was common to use antivirus from a company that wasn’t owned or operated by Microsoft. Windows Defender originally began as just spyware protection; however, with the release of Windows 10, Windows Defender was now a full-fledged antivirus solution and one that is optimized by Microsoft to run seamlessly in the background while you use your computer.

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

How to Turn On or Off Windows Defender Read-Time Protection in Settings

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. (click to enlarge screenshot below)

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. (click to enlarge screenshot below)

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. (click to enlarge screenshot below)

You can close the Windows Defender user interface and continue using the computer.

How to Turn On or Off Windows Defender Read-Time Protection in 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. (click to enlarge screenshot below)

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. (click to enlarge screenshot below)

You can close the Local Group Policy Editor and continue using the computer.


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.

This article was last updated on April 30, 2019.

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