Full Fix: Windows Defender is deactivated by Group Policy

Madeleine Dean By: Madeleine Dean
7 minute read

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Microsoft’s built-in antivirus, Windows Defender, is used by millions of people to protect their computers. Unfortunately, sometimes Windows Defender can’t do its job because of various errors.

One of the most common Windows Defender error messages is the following: “This app is turned off by Group Policy“. This message appears if you installed another antivirus programs or an anti-hacking tool that isn’t fully compatible with Microsoft’s built-in antivirus.

How to fix “This App Is Turned Off By Group Policy” for Windows Defender

Windows Defender is a solid antivirus, but sometimes issues with it can occur. Speaking of Windows Defender issues, here are some problems that users reported:

  • Windows Defender blocked by Group Policy Windows 7 – This issue can occur on Windows 7 and Windows 8. Even if you don’t use Windows 10, you should be able to apply most of our solutions to the older versions of Windows.
  • Turn Windows Defender on via Group Policy – If your Windows Defender is turned off by Group Policy, you can fix this problem with ease. Simply change a couple of values in Group Policy and Windows Defender should start working again.
  • Group Policy blocks Windows Defender – If your Group Policy blocks Windows Defender, you might be able to fix the problem simply by making few changes in your registry.
  • Unable to start Windows Defender Group Policy – If Windows Defender is blocked by Group Policy, you can solve the issue simply by starting Windows Defender from the Settings app.
  • Windows Defender stopped by Group Policy, not working Group Policy – These are some common problems that can occur with Windows Defender, but you should be able to solve them with one of our solutions.

Windows Defender is turned off by Group Policy

1. For the reasons unknown , my windows defender appears to have been deactivated. It says that is done for the reasons of some Group Policy. No such policy intimation given to me. Can this be reactivated and how soon?
2. Not able to download any updates for Windows 10.Please help.

The good news is that there are two workarounds available to solve this problem. The troubleshooting steps involve modifying the Group Policy path in the Registry or permanently disabling the option to turn off Windows Defender from the Group Policy.


Solution 1 – Use regedit

  1. Press Windows Key + R, type regedit and hit Enter.
    Unable to start Windows Defender Group Policy
  2. Go to HKey_Local_Machine\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender.
    Windows Defender stopped by Group Policy
  3. Delete the value in the DisableAntiSpyware key.

More specifically, some users will see two options

  1. Under type, it says – REG -DWORD
  2. Under Data, it says  – (invalid DWORD (32-bit) value)

Double click on the REG -DWORD and a small window will open where you can delete the value or set it to zero. If you can’t change the key value, delete the whole key.

Some users are reporting that you can fix the problem by deleting the DisableRealtimeMonitoring DWORD so you might want to try that as well. As for the location of this DWORD, you can find it in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Real-Time Protection key.


Solution 2 – Use the Group Policy

  1. Log in as an administrator. Type gpedit.msc in the Search bar and hit Enter.
    Windows Defender blocked by Group Policy Windows 7
  2. Go to Local Computer Policy > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Defender Antivirus. Select Windows Defender > in the right-hand panel, you’ll see the option Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus. Double-click to open it.
    Turn Windows Defender on via Group Policy
  3. In the new window > select Disable > click OK to save the settings.
    Windows Defender blocked by Group Policy Windows 7

Solution 3 – Turn on Windows Defender from the Settings app

If you’re getting a message that Windows Defender is deactivated by Group Policy, you might be able to fix the problem simply by turning it on from the Settings app. This is quite simple and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app. You can do that quickly by using Windows Key + I shortcut.
  2. When Settings app opens, navigate to Update & Security section.
    Windows Defender blocked by Group Policy Windows 7
  3. Select Windows Defender from the menu on the left and in the right pane click Open Windows Defender Security Center.
    Turn Windows Defender on via Group Policy
  4. Now select Virus & threat protection.
    Group Policy blocks Windows Defender
  5. Navigate to Virus & threat protection settings.
    Unable to start Windows Defender Group Policy
  6. Now locate Real-time protection and enable it.
    Windows Defender stopped by Group Policy

  7. For various PC problems, we recommend this tool.

    This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

    1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
    2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
    3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patented Technologies (requires upgrade).

After doing that, Windows Defender should be enabled and your PC will be protected.


Solution 4 – Turn on Windows Defender using the command line

If you’re an advanced user, you can fix the problem with Windows Defender is deactivated by Group Policy message simply by running a couple of commands in the command line. This method is the fastest since it allows you to turn on or off Windows Defender in a matter of seconds. To enable Windows Defender, you just need to do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter powershell. Right-click Windows PowerShell from the list and choose Run as administrator from the menu.
    Turn Windows Defender on via Group Policy
  2. When PowerShell opens, enter Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring 0 and press Enter.
    Group Policy blocks Windows Defender

After doing that, the Windows Defender will become enabled and the issue should be resolved.

You can also use Command Prompt to enable Windows Defender. By using the Command Prompt you’ll modify your registry. Basically, you’ll perform the same action as in Solution 1, but you’ll do it with just a single command in a matter of seconds. To do that, just follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + X to open Win + X menu. Now choose Command Prompt (Admin) from the list.
    Unable to start Windows Defender Group Policy
  2. When Command Prompt opens, enter REG DELETE “HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender” /v DisableAntiSpyware command and press Enter.
    Windows Defender not working Group Policy

After doing that, the selected value will be deleted from the registry and Windows Defender should start working again.


Solution 5 – Check if Windows Defender service is running

Windows relies on certain services in order to work properly, but if there’s a problem with one of those services, you might encounter certain issues. If you’re getting a message saying that Windows Defender is deactivated by Group Policy, the problem might be the disabled Windows Defender service. However, you can easily enable this service and fix the problem by doing the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter services.msc. Now press Enter or click OK.
    Windows Defender blocked by Group Policy Windows 7
  2. List of services will now appear. Scroll down and double-click the Windows Defender Antivirus Service to open its properties.
    Turn Windows Defender on via Group Policy
  3. Set the Startup type of the service to Automatic and click the Start button to start the service. Now click Apply and OK to save changes.
    Group Policy blocks Windows Defender

After enabling the service, the issue should be resolved and Windows Defender will start working again.


Solution 6 – Check your PC for malware

Sometimes you can encounter this problem due to malware infection. Sometimes malware can get administrative privileges on your PC and disable Windows Defender from Group Policy. However, you can fix that issue simply by scanning your PC with anti-malware tool.

We covered anti-hacking software in the past, and if you’re looking for a tool that can deal with malware, we suggest you try Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This tool will clean your PC from malware, and it’s incredibly simple to use, so be sure to try it out.

Once you remove the malware from your PC, you should be able to activate Windows Defender without any issues.


Solution 7 – Make sure that third-party antivirus tools are completely removed

Windows Defender is designed to turn itself off once you install a third-party antivirus. If you had a third-party antivirus on your PC, it’s possible that the issue was caused by it. Even if you remove your antivirus, sometimes there might be some leftover files or registry entries. These files can also interfere with Windows Defender and cause this issue to appear.

To fix the problem, it’s important to remove those files from your PC. The best way to do it is to download a dedicated uninstaller for your antivirus. You can download this tool for free right from the antivirus’ support page.

If you can’t find this tool, you can also use uninstaller software. These tools are designed to remove any leftover files and registry entries and completely remove any application from your PC. There are many great uninstallers available, but one of the best is IOBit Uninstaller.

After you remove the leftover files with this tool, you should be able to start Windows Defender without any issues.


Solution 8 – Consider switching to a third-party antivirus

Windows Defender is a solid antivirus, but if you can’t fix the Windows Defender is deactivated by Group Policy message, you might want to consider switching to a third-party antivirus solution.

Unlike Windows Defender, third-party antivirus tools offer some advanced features that many users will find useful. If you want extra security on your PC, you should consider Bitdefender (World’s Nr.1), since it offers great protection from malware.

There you go, use one of these methods and the Group Policy will no longer disable Windows Defender.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2016 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


RELATED STORIES YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT:

For various PC problems, we recommend this tool.

This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

  1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
  2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patented Technologies (requires upgrade).

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