Windows Defender Real-time Protection will not turn on


So after first using VIPRE antivirus and then BitDefender I have decided to use Windows Defender. After uninstalling my previous AV program I realized that Windows Defender Real-time Protection will not turn on. On the Windows Defender start page it states "Windows Defender Real-time protection is off because you are using another AV program. Uninstall your existing AV program to turn on Windows Defender." I currently do not have another AV program installed. I suspect it is due to a messy uninstall of VIPRE Antivirus, however I was very specific in following all steps to manually uninstall VIPRE using the registry editor. 

I have searched through the community and tried numerous methods to fix this issue, but so far none have been successful.

Is there anyway to force Windows Defender to recognize that I do not currently have a AV program installed?




Question Info

Last updated December 5, 2019 Views 24,636 Applies to:

Did you follow the steps recommended in


How about the steps recommended at


Try running the removal tools for any security program that you previously used on the computer and be sure to reboot after using each tool.  See List of anti-malware product removal tools 


Go to Security and Maintenance, look in 'Security' and see what program is listed under Virus Protection.  Windows Defender will not be enabled if there is a program other than Windows Defender listed.


Have you tried the steps recommended in Problems starting Windows Defender in Windows 8/8.1/10?



For further detailed information suggest you review the reply of quietman7 in this thread:

“The inability to turn on Windows Defender 8/10 is typically the result of having a third-party anti-virus installed or failure to remove it properly (completely). Since Windows 8/10 Defender includes anti-virus protection, it is disabled during the installation of another anti-virus program. If a trial anti-virus (i.e. McAfee, Norton, etc) came preinstalled on your computer or you installed one, Windows Defender will be turned off (disabled). Windows Defender recognizes the install and automatically disables itself when other anti-virus products are used to avoid conflicts. Windows Defender will remain disabled until that anti-virus software has been completely uninstalled. In some cases, you may need to download and run the anti-virus vendor's clean up tool to remove any remaining remnants.

After removal of the third party anti-virus, Windows 8/10 Defender needs to be activated if you choose to use it. When uninstalling the third-party anti-virus Defender should automatically turn itself on but sometimes you may receive a message indicating 
your system has no here to turn on Windows Defender. If not, and Defender remains disabled, you will need to manually turn it on.

If that is not the case in your situation, check to make sure the Windows Defender service is started.

Sometimes it may take a couple of computer reboots after performing the above steps to ensure Windows Defender is up and running properly.


Or - - -


There are a number of viable antivirus options available for Windows 10 – free or paid - take your pick…


Choosing an Anti-Virus Program


Is Windows Defender The Best For Windows 10?  Good article but ignore the ads.




MVP Consumer Security 2014-2016
Windows Insider MVP 2016-2018

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