How to Turn Off Antivirus Software

turn-off antivirus software
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Antivirus protection software is a handy tool that protects your system and data against malware. However, despite their usefulness, they can sometimes be a nuisance—for instance, antivirus software can interfere with the installation of a program.

You may also want to deactivate the software if security isn’t a concern for a particular operation. 

To deactivate Microsoft Defender, open Windows Security and turn Real-time protection off. For third-party antivirus software, open the app or access it through the taskbar and look for a setting to pause or turn off protection.

Antivirus software engineers understand the occasional need for disabling the software and have made the process relatively easy. You only need several clicks at the right places to disable whichever antivirus you are using. 

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Microsoft Defender

Microsoft Defender antivirus software comes preinstalled on your Microsoft device. You can turn it off permanently or temporarily.

How to temporarily turn off Microsoft Defender

Temporarily disabling Microsoft Defender will allow you to run whichever application or installation the software was interfering with. 

Follow this procedure to disable Microsoft Defender temporarily: 

  1. Open Windows Security by searching the app on the taskbar. 
  2. Select Virus & threat protection. 
  3. Locate the Manage settings prompt and click on it. 
  4. Toggle Real-time protection off. 

This process disables Microsoft Defender until the next reboot. You can re-enable protection by following the above process and toggling Real-time protection at step 4. 

How to permanently turn off Microsoft Defender

There are two ways you can disable Microsoft Defender permanently. However, Microsoft hasn’t made it easy—the first way can be complicated, and the second can be expensive.

Disable using group policy

As I just warned, this method can be complicated. It involves two processes.  You first need to turn off Tamper Protection by following these steps:

  1. Open Windows Security by searching the app on the taskbar. 
  2. Select Virus & threat protection. 
  3. Locate the Manage settings prompt and select. 
  4. Toggle Tamper Protection off. 

Follow this process to disable Microsoft Defender using group policy:

  1. Type gpedit.msc on the search space. 
  2. The top result launches the Local Group Policy Editor. 
  3. Under Computer Configuration, select the Administrative Templates folder. 
  4. Double click on Windows Components and Microsoft Defender Antivirus. 
  5. Click Turn off Microsoft Defender Antivirus. 
  6. On the left side of the dialog box, select Enabled. 
  7. Click Apply, then OK, and restart the machine. 

The shield icon on the taskbar will remain despite Microsoft Defender being in-operational. If you have no other antivirus program, disabling Microsoft Defender leaves your system vulnerable. 

To restart Microsoft defender, follow the second process, but at step six, click Not Configured. For added protection, toggle Tamper Protection on by following the first process.  

Disable by installing third-party antivirus software

This option is far less complicated, but it will cost you some money. I recommend you go for this method because it disables Microsoft Defender but doesn’t leave your computer vulnerable. 

After your computer’s system recognizes third-party antivirus software, it will disable Microsoft Defender.  Open Windows Security from the search bar and click Settings to confirm your security provider.

Under Security providers, select Manage providers.  If you’ve installed third-party antivirus software, Microsoft Defender should appear permanently turned off.


Kaspersky antivirus software is the preferred antivirus for many users. It provides excellent protection, but it also tends to interfere unnecessarily.

Follow these steps to disable Kaspersky antivirus software:

  1. Click the hidden menu icon on the taskbar to reveal the Kaspersky icon. 
  2. Right-click on the icon to reveal a menu. 
  3. Near the top of the menu, select Pause protection. 
  4. A dialog box will emerge, giving you three options: pause for a specific time, pause until the next restart, or pause permanently. 
  5. Select the option you want and select Pause protection. 

When paused, the Kaspersky icon on the application turns red, showing that the application isn’t working.  If you disable Kaspersky permanently, you’ll need to re-enable the software manually.

Unpause the software by opening the app and clicking on Details. Click on Resume, next to ‘Computer protection is paused’.


Though not as popular as Kaspersky, BitDefender is every bit as good and, at times, annoying.  Turn off Bitdefender by following this process:

  1. Open the Bitdefender app. 
  2. Click Protection, the second option on the extreme left. 
  3. Under the Antivirus option, select Open. 
  4. Select the Advanced tab.
  5. Toggle Bitdefender Shield. 
  6. On the dialog box, select the duration you want Bitdefender to remain inactive. 

Bitdefender offers similar length options as Kaspersky. You can disable the application for a few hours, until the next restart, or permanently. 

If you want to disable additional features, open the Bitdefender app and toggle them off. You can disable the firewall, Antispam, Ransomware Remediation, and Vulnerability. 

Disabling these features leaves your device vulnerable, so remember to toggle them on afterward.

Norton Antivirus

Antivirus software is engineered to protect your computer, but it can sometimes slow your system down. If Norton contributes to lagging issues, you can disable it for a while or permanently. 

Follow these steps to disable Norton antivirus software:

  1. Click the hidden menu icon on the taskbar to reveal the hidden menu. 
  2. Right-click on the Norton icon. 
  3. On the pop-up menu, select Disable Auto-Protect. 
  4. On the dialog box titled Security Request, select the duration you’d like to disable Norton. 

You can also instruct the software to re-enable after the next restart or disable it permanently. Norton warns you that disabling the antivirus exposes your system to threats.

Re-enable the antivirus by following the first two steps. In step 3, click Enable Auto-Protect.

Key Takeaways

Turning off antivirus protection software isn’t difficult. Even the one ‘complicated’ process described above is relatively easy if you follow the steps as described. 

Microsoft Defender isn’t as intrusive as third-party antivirus protection options, so there’s usually no need to disable it permanently. If you must, do so by installing a third-party option. 

The top third-party antivirus protection software options have roughly similar disabling procedures. You can disable all of them permanently, but as they warn you, it leaves your system susceptible to attacks. 

Remember to switch the antivirus protection back on to protect your data and device.

Norton Antivirus

Norton™ provides industry-leading antivirus and security software for your PC, Mac, and mobile devices.

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