How to Turn On Windows Defender

This minHour teaches you how to turn back on Windows Defender on your PC. If you've disabled Microsoft Defender (formerly Windows Defender) in the time since your last restart, you can turn it back on from within the Windows Security program. If you recently installed an antivirus program that turned off Microsoft Defender, you'll need to uninstall the antivirus program before you can use Microsoft Defender.

Turning on Microsoft Defender

Make sure you recently turned off Microsoft Defender.

If you turned off Microsoft Defender between now and the last time you restarted or shut down your computer, Microsoft Defender should still be disabled. You can re-enable it by following this method’s instructions.

  • If you didn’t turn off Microsoft Defender since the last time you restarted your computer, Microsoft Defender is most likely disabled because you installed a different antivirus program. You’ll need to remove the antivirus program to re-enable Windows Defender.

Open Start.

Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen.

Open Settings.

Click the gear-shaped icon in the bottom-left corner of the Start menu. The Settings window will open.

Click Update & Security.

It’s a circular arrow-shaped icon in the Settings window.

Click the Windows Security tab.

This tab is on the left side of the window.

Click Virus & threat protection.

It’s in the middle of the window.

  • You may have to expand the Windows Security window by clicking the square in the top-right corner of the window before proceeding.

Click Virus & threat protection settings.

You’ll find this link in the middle of the menu.

Click the “Off” switch below the “Real-time protection” heading.

You’ll find this heading near the top of the window.

Click Yes when prompted.

Doing so will turn back on Microsoft Defender.

Uninstalling a Third-Party Antivirus Program

Determine whether you intentionally installed an antivirus program.

If you did install an antivirus program on purpose, you should know its name. If not, another program probably installed the antivirus software as part of its installation process, meaning you’ll need to look for a program whose name you don’t recognize.

Open Start.

Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen.

Open Settings.

Click the gear-shaped icon in the bottom-left corner of the Start menu. The Settings window will open.

Click Apps.

It’s in the middle of the Settings window.

Sort by date if necessary.

If you don’t know the antivirus program’s name, you can narrow it down by showing the most recently installed programs and working backward from there. To do so, click the “Sort by” menu, then click in the drop-down menu.

  • If you know the antivirus program’s name, skip this step.

Find the antivirus program.

Scroll through the list of installed apps until you find the program that you need to uninstall.

  • If you didn’t intentionally install an antivirus program, you’ll probably find the program you need to uninstall near the top of the list of programs if your Windows Defender only recently turned off.

Click the program’s name.

Doing so expands the program’s name to display an button.

Click Uninstall.

You’ll find this under the program’s name.

Click Uninstall when prompted.

Doing so opens the program’s uninstallation window.

Follow the uninstallation prompts.

Click through the on-screen uninstall prompts, making sure to select the “Delete all files” (or similar) option if asked whether you want to keep residual files and apps.

Delete other associated programs.

Some antivirus programs install additional programs to handle things like web security; if you see other programs that come from the same developer or have similar names to the program you just uninstalled, uninstall them as well before proceeding.

Restart your computer.

Click, click and click in the pop-up menu. Your computer will restart like usual, after which point your Windows Defender program should be back up and running.

  • If Microsoft Defender doesn’t turn back on after your computer finishes restarting, you can try turning it on manually.


  • Microsoft Defender is the best antivirus choice for Windows computers, so there shouldn’t need to install a third-party antivirus program. In fact, all that installing another antivirus does is change the provider of the malware definitions.


  • Installing more than one additional antivirus program can cause issues ranging from lack of proper protection to an inability to turn off your computer.

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