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I have Windows 10 ver 2004. Since Windows Defender changed to Microsoft Defender Antivirus I'm unable to turn it off. In Local Group Policy (gpedit.msc) under Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Microsoft Defender Antivirus there is a key "Turn off Microsoft Defender Antivirus". Every time I check "enable" and log out or reboot the key is back to "Not configured". How to keep it disabled permanently, and therefore turn off Microsoft Defender Antivirus essentially?


(source: windowscentral.com)

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I have successfully removed the windows defender service with no side effects so far, other than windows notifying you that the defender service could not start.

Windows 10 Version 2004 build 19041.450

This eliminated defender from the PC

Use a bootable offline registry editor of choice, I used a windows 7 64bit ERD disc to do it, not publicly available but can be found. It has a registry editor.

Once booted into the registry editor navigate to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\WinDefend

delete the WinDefend key

I would export the key first, then if you want Defender back you can Merge the saved key back into the registry and reboot.

The key may be returned after certain Windows updates, so you will have to delete it again, thanks IGRACH

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    YES. This is the way xD
    – IGRACH
    Oct 8, 2020 at 20:00
  • Nice find on that!!! Oct 10, 2020 at 2:29
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    I still get notifications that my antivirus is off, but so far so good, windows stopped deleting files and making decisions for me.
    – john
    Oct 27, 2020 at 16:26
  • That was noted in my answer.
    – Moab
    Oct 27, 2020 at 17:27
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    And yes whole reg key is back after Windows update. You just need to delete it again.
    – IGRACH
    Nov 12, 2020 at 15:10
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You cannot disable it if you do not have any other Anti Virus in place. That is the way Windows 10 does this.

If you have a good Anti Virus package of your choice installed, then installation of this AV will set up Defender to work in harmony "underneath" your pick of AV. That is, your AV will be the prominent pick.

Windows 10 Defender is actually very good and protects very well so if you do not have another AV, just use Defender.

If you are in a Server Environment and have a good AV in place, you can try disabling with Group Policy.

https://www.windowscentral.com/how-permanently-disable-windows-defender-windows-10 (content as at August 2020)

This article shows a temporary disabling and amplifies that it cannot be really, permanently disabled.

Whatever the reason it might be, Windows 10 doesn't include an option to uninstall or disable the Microsoft Defender Antivirus "permanently" unless you install a third-party solution, in which case it'll disable automatically. However, it's possible to disable Microsoft Defender using Group Policy or temporarily with the Windows Security app.

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  • Don't want to xD
    – IGRACH
    Sep 30, 2020 at 14:02
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    I have amended my answer to add some points. Going forward, Windows Defender will likely continue to be permanently installed as part of Windows.
    – John
    Sep 30, 2020 at 14:11
  • And why put option in Group Policy if you can't change it?
    – IGRACH
    Sep 30, 2020 at 14:47
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    Windows Defenders is now designed to work in harmony with other products (the business need to co-exist). But it cannot be removed completely. That is how Windows has been designed.
    – John
    Sep 30, 2020 at 14:54
  • I'm fine to let it run. But it eats to much ram
    – Ooker
    Nov 1, 2020 at 15:22
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I think I found out a very good workaround for the POLICY Setting getting reset to "Not Configured" every time you restart Group Policy Editor. I had the same problem and guessed out (correctly) that it was MsMpEng.exe running in the background that was resetting the policy back to "Not Configured".

So, before making any changes to the policy, head over to Task Manager, then to Performance Monitor from the Performance tab. Find MsMpEng.exe in any of the tabs in it (mostly on top in Memory or CPU tabs) and click on Suspend Process.

Then make the changes as required in the Group Policy Editor. It won't get reverted back. Please reply if it works, or didn't work.

NOTE :- Keep the MsMpEng.exe process suspended for as long as you like XD

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Use IceSpringDesktopHelper to block it without reboot.

Github: https://github.com/baijifeilong/IceSpringDesktopHelper

Snapshot:

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I've managed to delete registry entry without booting from ERD or LiveCD. Just follow the instructions from this guide, disable service from autoruns and then delete registry entry from regedit.

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