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How to turn on Windows Defender on Windows 10

Windows Defender is the stock antivirus on a Windows 10 system. It is installed by default, it cannot be removed, and it generally works well to keep a system safe. It also has a nice anti-ransomware feature that not all anti-virus programs have.

Turn on Windows Defender

Windows Defender isn’t easy to disable; users need admin rights to turn it off and it will normally nag a user to enable it again. It isn’t the easiest feature to turn off but it can still be turned off. If you’ve installed a third-party anti-virus app, or you’re recovering from a bad infection, it is possible that Windows Defender is still off and you need to turn it on.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Update and security>Windows Security.
  3. Click Open Windows Security. This will open Windows Defender.
  4. Go to the Virus and threat protection tab.
  5. Scroll down to the Virus and threat protection settings section, and click Manage Settings.
  6. On the next screen, turn on Real-time protection, cloud-delivered protection, automatic sample submission, and tamper protection.
  7. Go to the Firewall and Network protection tab.
  8. Click Domain Network, Public Network, and Private Network one-by-one and turn on the firewall switch for each network type.
  9.  Go to the App and Browser control tab. Click Reputation-based protection settings.
  10. Turn on the following switches;
    • Check apps and files.
    • SmartScreen for Microsoft Edge.
    • Potentially unwanted app blocking.
    • SmartScreen for Microsoft Store apps.
  11. There are other features that you can turn to make your system more secure but the above are what you need to turn on the core protection features that Windows Defender has.


If you’re unable to turn on Windows Defender, try the following;

  • Remove any third-party anti-virus apps that are present on the system.
  • Make sure your system is connected to the internet when you enable the various protection features.
  • Sign in with the admin account and then enable Windows Defender.


Not everyone is a fan of Windows Defender. For some, the app throws one too many false positives while for others, it isn’t as robust as it should be and misses files that tools like Malwarebytes can catch easily. Others consider the app an invasion of their privacy since it is a Microsoft app that collects information from the system. All this means that users do look for solutions to turn the app off. If you’ve used a third-party tool to turn Windows Defender off, you should uninstall it and then try turning it on.

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