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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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