Microsoft Security Essentials automatically installed/ran itself during our last Windows update. How can I turn it off?

  • I don't want to uninstall it.
  • I don't want it to run during startup.
  • I don't want it in the tool tray.
  • I don't want it getting our updates.
  • I don't want it telling me it is off and that the machine is at risk.

If I uninstall it... I might need it someday. Beside MS will constantly try to re-install it like they did today.

Why do I want this "behavior"? Because I own my computer... and I don't want it running things at start-up unless I want them. (I already have several MUCH better anti-virus tools.)

Installed but non-running antivirus software is not healthy for the computers or for the software.

Huh? I do it with MalwareBytes and SuperAntiSpyware and many other anti-virus software, all the time. I just do NOT need (countless) "always run at start-up" programs. (I already have ONE anti-virus for that... I don't need 5 conflicting ones.) I use these tools for on-demand, single-file (or system wide) scans. NOT for run-5-different-programs-24-hours-per-day purposes.

I thought that was my MSE had a "turn off real-time" and "only launch when need contextMenu". (But it still runs at ever launch.) I guess I was expecting a simple "launch at startup" checkBox, like countless other prgs have.

Please trust me. I've worked all levels of IT support for over 10 years now and I can tell you, either you have AV software or you don't

Please don't be offened... but countless people do single-file-scans.... and system-wide-scans instead of run-at-all-time methods. (You really only need ONE run-at-all-time antivirus. But you can have MANY scan-on-demand tools.)

  • Please, add OS version specific tags.
    – TiCL
    Sep 3, 2011 at 4:17
  • 1
    If you don't want it to do anything, then why not just uninstall it? Btw, can you also please outline the reasons why you want this behavior?
    – Mayank
    Sep 3, 2011 at 4:20

5 Answers 5


With Antivirus software (which Microsoft Security Essentials is), you either want it installed and running, or you want it not installed and not running. Installed but non-running antivirus software is not healthy for the computers or for the software.

Microsoft does not try to install Security Essentials. Through Windows Updates they push a small malware removal tool regularly, but you will not get a legitimate version of Microsoft Security Essentials through any method other than going to the Microsoft Security Essentials webpage and downloading it on purpose and then installing it.

Also, the time you want antivirus software (any antivirus software) running is all the time. If you have some other program you prefer and use that is installed and running, get rid of Microsoft Security Essentials. You only need one antivirus app running at a time. If, however, you do not have any other antivirus software running on your computer and you are connected to the internet or you connect removable storage devices such as thumbdrives or memory cards, you need to have antivirus software installed and running at all times.

Antivirus software is a better wall than it is a policy force. It is better at stopping infections from happening than it is at removing them once they've become entrenched. This is just a normal fact of life. Maybe needed it someday means you'll need it now so that someday is less likely to happen.

UPDATE: Ok, read up on the updates. You should not install MSE. You should uninstall it and if MS asks you to install it via update in the future, there is an option in windows update to not show that update again. This is what you should select.

MSE is not meant to be run as an on-demand scanner only. Most AV products aren't. Tools like MBAM and the others you've installer are meant, as you use them, as on-demand tools rather than real-time tools. Full AV products like MSE, Norton, McAfee, etc, are meant to be real-time tools, not on-demand only.

  • Yep. There's nothing preventing you from installing it again later if you remove it properly now. Sep 3, 2011 at 4:29
  • I want it NOT LAUNCHED AT START UP. (I can still do indivdual on-demand file scans.)
    – Bonnie
    Sep 3, 2011 at 4:31
  • I would rather not constantly install/uninstall. Just do-not-launch-at-startup. So simple.
    – Bonnie
    Sep 3, 2011 at 4:31
  • 2
    Carol, yes it is so simple, but it is so wrong. Please trust me. I've worked all levels of IT support for over 10 years now and I can tell you, either you have AV software or you don't. And if you have it, that means it's running all the time. Now if you're concerned that you have an illegitimate or fake antivirus program that is really annoying, that is another issue completely and one we've addressed in other questions on this site. But you should not use a computer without antivirus software running at startup. Sep 3, 2011 at 4:36
  • 3
    Also just to add to music2myear answer, MSE is served as an optional update. Also, the end user has to accept a license agreement before installing. Unless I am missing something, I do not see how it gets installed automatically.
    – Mayank
    Sep 3, 2011 at 4:37

Press Windows+R to bring up the run dialog. Type 'msconfig' and press Enter. Select thestartup tab and clear te checkbox for MSSECS then click OK to reboot.

To get rid of the pop ups about no antivirus, open the security center, click Recommendations by Antivirus, then check the box that you have a solution to monitor yourself

  • My XP Security Center doesn't show any "Recommendations by AntiVirus" button.
    – Bonnie
    Sep 3, 2011 at 4:28
  • MsConfig gave an error message about "having to be logged in as admin" when turned off mssecs. (Which I already am.)
    – Bonnie
    Sep 3, 2011 at 4:32
  • There should be a button called 'recommendation' by the antivirus section. Sorry, typing on phone. As or msconfig, what version of windows are you running? Sep 3, 2011 at 6:10

MSE runs a full C:\ drive file scan, which can take upwards of 10 minutes or more to complete, using up virtually all of the system resources at start-up.

Turn off MsMpEng.exe in startup by clicking on Start/Run/msconfig (hit Enter), click on the Startup tab, find Microsoft Security Client and uncheck the box and hit OK. The next time you start up your computer MSE will still run when you logon but only for about 60 seconds.

If you open MSE you will see that your real-time-protection is still enabled and running.


I know, this is probably wayyy to late, but why not still post this?

There are two ways I know of about how to go about doing this. Either way requires removing msseces.exe, mpcmdrun.exe, and shellext.dll from startup.

  1. Run msconfig.exe (by default in the C:\Windows\System32 folder) using administrator privileges, which it should prompt you to elevate automatically, meaning you can force it to elevate by locating the executable file then right-clicking and selecting "Run as Administrator".
  2. Use the Autoruns utility from Sysinternals to accomplish the same task with another alternative means and executable/tool.

Note, you alone are responsible for what you do to and with your computer. These posts are suggestions only, and are meant to help guide you. We are not responsible for any damages that these may inflict on your system(s). Be sure to follow all instructions carefully.


I have Windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit OS laptop connected to domain at work. It has MSE version installed and all configuration options are disabled by domain policy.

I was not able to disable the Microsoft Antimalware Service, but I prevented it from running by removing execute rights for all accounts (including System) from the executable file:

c:\Program Files\Microsoft Security Client\MsMpEng.exe

I used Windows Explorer, right-click on the file above, select Properties, Security tab, Advanced button, Change Permissions button.

Uncheck "Include inheritable permissions from this object's parent". If prompted to Copy or remove permissions select Copy. Then click on each entry in "Permission entries" list, click Edit and uncheck Traverse Folder / execute file item. Click OK on all pop-ups that have opened in this process to apply your changes.

After restarting computer the Service Manager shows the Microsoft Antimalware Service as not running.

I can manually open Microsoft Security Client User Interface c:\Program Files\Microsoft Security Client\msseces.exe It shows PcStatus: At risk.

Since @Kevin Panko said this does not stop real-time-protection, I also edited different settings in Registry under this key LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Microsoft Antimalware

For example, I added a value below, hope it will exclude all files on C drive from real-time-protection.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Microsoft Antimalware\Exclusions\Paths]

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .