FIX: Windows Defender is deactivated by Group Policy

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Madalina has been a Windows fan ever since she got her hands on her first Windows XP computer. She is interested in all things technology, especially emerging technologies -- AI and DNA computing in... Read more
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  • Is your Windows Defender blocked by the Group Policy? It might be due to incompatibility issues with other apps.
  • Make sure you uninstalled older third-party security software and removed their files.
  • Check the PC for malware with another third-party antivirus tool to quickly fix the problem.
  • Use Regedit or forcefully turn on Windows Defender by running a couple of CMD commands.
Fix Windows Defender is deactivated by Group Policy
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Microsoft’s built-in antivirus, Windows Defender, is used by millions of people to protect their computers. Unfortunately, sometimes it 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 program or an anti-hacking tool that isn’t fully compatible with Microsoft’s built-in antivirus.

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:

  • Group Policy blocks Windows Defender Windows 10 – This issue can occur on Windows 10 and even prior versions. 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.

How can I fix This app is turned off by Group Policy error?

1. Make sure that old third-party antivirus tools are 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.

If you can’t find this tool, you can also use uninstaller software. These tools will remove any leftover files and registry entries and completely remove any application from your PC.

There are many great uninstallers available, and you can remove the leftover files with them. Afterward, you should be able to start Windows Defender without any issues.

Get IObit uninstaller

2. Consider switching to a different third-party antivirus

If you uninstalled any third-party antivirus remains and Windows Defender is still acting out, 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, such as online banking protection and privacy insurance.

If you want extra security on your PC, you should consider the tool recommended below. It’s trusted by 110 million users for a good reason – it offers great protection from malware.

And as this problem might actually be caused by malware infection, after installing it, run a full scan on your system to get that issue out of the way.

Get ESET Internet Security

3. Use regedit

  1. Press Windows Key + R shortcut, type regedit, and hit Enter.
    Unable to start Windows Defender Group Policy
  2. Go to the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows 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.

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Some users are reporting that you can fix the problem by deleting the DisableRealtimeMonitoring DWORD so you might want to try that as well.

4. Use the Group Policy

  1. Log in as an administrator.
  2. Type gpedit.msc in the Search bar and hit Enter.
    Windows Defender blocked by Group Policy Windows 7
  3. Go to the following path: Local Computer PolicyAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsMicrosoft Defender Antivirus
  4. Select Windows Defender, then in the right-hand panel, you’ll see the option Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus.
  5. Double-click to open it.
  6. In the new window, select Disable, then click Apply and OK to save the settings.

Want to use Group Policy on your Windows 10 Home edition? Find out how to get it by using this quick guide.

5. Turn on Windows Defender from the Settings app

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. When the Settings app opens, navigate to the Update & Security section.
    Windows Defender blocked by Group Policy Windows 7
  3. Select Windows Security from the menu on the left and in the right pane click Open Windows Security.
  4. Now select Virus & threat protection.
    Group Policy blocks Windows Defender
  5. Navigate to Virus & threat protection settings and click on Manage settings.
  6. Now locate Real-time protection and enable it.
    Windows Defender stopped by Group Policy

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.

After doing that, Windows Defender should be enabled and your PC will be protected. If you’re having trouble opening the Setting app, take a look at this dedicated article to solve the issue.

6. Turn on Windows Defender using the command line

6.1 Use PowerShell

  1. Right-click the Start button and select PowerShell (Admin) from the list.
  2. When PowerShell opens, enter the following command and press Enter: Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring 0
    Group Policy blocks Windows Defender

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 the Defender on or off in a matter of seconds. To enable Windows Defender, you just need to do as described above.

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

6.2 Use Command Prompt

  1. Press Windows Key + S, type cmd, and click on Run as administrator to tun Command Prompt with full privileges.
  2. When Command Prompt opens, paste the following command and press Enter: REG DELETE "HKLMSOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows Defender" /v DisableAntiSpyware
    Windows Defender not working Group Policy

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 6.1, but you’ll do it with just a single command in a matter of seconds. To do that, just follow the steps above.

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

7. Check if the Microsoft Defender service is running

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter services.msc.
  2. Now press Enter or click OK.
    Windows Defender blocked by Group Policy Windows 7
  3. A list of services will now appear.
  4. Scroll down and double-click the Microsoft Defender Antivirus Service to open its properties.
  5. Set the Startup type of the service to Automatic and click the Start button to start the service.
  6. 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.

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 as described above. Additionally, we suggest reading this list with great antivirus software with unlimited license.

There you go, use one of these methods and the Group Policy will no longer disable Windows Defender. If you have any more suggestions or questions, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • You need to change the settings from the Local Policy Editor using gpedit.msc. If you don’t know how to do that, read our guide dedicated to stopping Group policy from turning off Windows Defender.

  • One of the possibilities is because you have another antivirus app installed on your PC. You should turn off this software before running Windows Defender. Another reason would be that you got infected with a virus or malware.

  • If your Windows Defender won’t update by itself, taking a look at our quick guide about forcing Windows Defender to update will solve the issue in no time.

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