How to enable and use the built in Windows Defender for Antivirus Protection in Windows 10

Technical Level : Basic

Update: Starting with Windows 10 Creators Update and later versions, Windows Defender has been succeeded by a new security client called Windows Defender Security Center. Windows Defender Security Center includes a suite of protection tools for your Windows 10 device, these include: Antivirus, Performance, Firewall, App and Browser Control and Family Safety.

This also means, users don't need uninstall third party Antivirus products compatible with Windows 10. Third party Antivirus utilities can co-exist with Windows Defender Security Center just fine. If you are running an older release of Windows 10, such as 1607 and earlier, you can follow the instructions below for enabling your third party Antivirus utility.

Summary - Enabling Windows Defender on Older Releases of Windows 10

Windows 10 might require a new version of your Antivirus designed for Windows 10. If you have a subscription that has not expired, contact the developer to find out about Windows 10 support. Most Antivirus utilities should now support Windows 10. If your subscription is still active, then you should be entitled to a compatible update for Windows 10. If your current Antivirus is incompatible with Windows 10 or you do not plan to renew your subscription, you can use the built in Windows Defender or Windows Defender Security Center as an alternative. Lets take a quick look at enabling and updating Windows Defender.


Press Windows key + X

Click Programs and Features

Select the Antivirus utility you have installed, then click Uninstall/Change. You might have a different one installed, I have Norton for example.

This will launch the setup wizard which will guide you through uninstalling your Antivirus. Follow the on screen instructions, a reboot might be required.

During the uninstallation, you might receive a notification indicating virus protection is turned off. You can use this opportunity to enable Windows Defender right away. If not, follow the next steps to enable it yourself manually.

Click Start
Click Settings or press Windows key + i
Click Click Update & Security

Click Windows Defender

Make sure Real-time protection is enabled

Windows Defender should automatically turn on and prompt you update. Do so right away, as the definitions tend to be out of date by many months or years (depending on when you install Windows 10).

That’s it, you now have a free built in Antivirus utility you don’t have to pay for.


Windows 10 Creators Update Feature: Windows Defender Security Center Manually Install Standalone and Cumulative Updates and Virus Definitions in Windows 10 How to Increase Windows 10 Defender Cloud Protection ... - groovyPost

A Quick look at using Windows Defender on Windows 8

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Thank you so much for your very helpful reply! I feel so much better about the upgrade now. I'm also looking forward to trying out Cortana! I found a list of questions that could be asked, and one of them is if Cortana knows "Clippy"! LOL!

Hope you have a wonderful day! :)

will microsoft security essentials update before winows 10 is released?

I just recently upgraded my Windows 7 Pro computer (which have Microsoft Security Essentials Installed) to Windows 10. I notice that the windows defender has been disabled because Microsoft Security Essentials is still installed on the computer. I am attempting to uninstall MSE, since from Win8 and on Microsoft is now using Win Defender, however I am receiving an error message when uninstalling MSE, "You don't need to install Microsoft Security Essentials because my version of windows includes an updated version of windows defender."

As mentioned before MSE is still installed on Win10 after the upgrade from Win7. I can still see the MSE icon in the taskbar which is active, causing Win Defender to be disabled.

Help report this issue!!

Exact same problem here.  MSE not removed during upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10.  Cannot be removed after upgrade (installer/uninstaller will not run under Windows 10) and Windows Defender will not run while MSE is on the machine, even when MSE is disabled on startup.  What's the solution for this?
I ended up restoring back to windows 7, so I can uninstall and then re-upgrade. I'm sure eventually Microsoft will find this out and fix it. I ended up connecting my local windows admin account to a Microsoft account and there was no way to reverse and bring the account back to local either, another reason why I decided to restore back to win 7. 
I see it has Home, Update, History and Settings... mine on Windows 10 does not have Settings.
Settings is there if you'll look over to the top right corner beside "help". That's the only thing different than what's on Microsoft Security Essentials. :)

my defender real time protection is greyed out - what next - a 'refresh' ?

same problem for me too.

I did a refresh and defender was back in operation.

I installed antivirus and Defender turned off.

I the installed malware and it ran for one day.

After a reboot the malware is now turned off !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I am using IOBit ASC Ultimate 8 and IOBit Malware Pro.

Someone from Microsoft please respond .......................................................

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Last updated October 27, 2020 Views 339,440 Applies to: