FIX: Windows Defender is deactivated by Group Policy

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Former Managing Editor
4 Comments
Download PDF
Affiliate Disclosure

  • Is Windows Defender deactivated by Group Policy? The troubleshooting tips below will help you out.
  • They involve using regedit or turning on Windows Defender by running a couple of commands.
  • You can also use one of these great anti-malware software tools to quickly scan your computer.
  • Whenever you need help, remember that this Windows 10 Errors Hub includes unique solutions to all your problems.
Fix Windows Defender is deactivated by Group Policy

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 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. Check your PC for malware

try to check your PC

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 one of the best anti-malware tools that you can find. If you’re looking for such a tool, we suggest you try Malwarebytes.

It 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.

Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes is a simple utility ready to help you scan the PC with ease. Eager to try it out as well?
Free trial Visit website

2. Consider switching to a different third-party antivirus

try out Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

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 Antivirus Plus. It’s the world’s nr.1 for a good reason – it offers great protection from malware.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

The powerful tool will make you forget all about the error that states This app is turned off by Group Policy.
$74.99/year Visit website

3. 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, 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.

IObit Uninstaller

IObit Uninstaller

IObit Uninstaller lets you remove all antivirus leftovers with ease! Ready to give it a try too?
Free trial Download now

4. Use redegit

  1. Press Windows Key + R shortcut, type regedit and hit Enter.
    Unable to start Windows Defender Group Policy
  2. Go to HKey_Local_Machine\SoftwarePolicies\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.


Can’t access Registry Editor? Things aren’t as scary as they seem. Check out this guide and solve the issue quickly.


5. 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

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

6. Turn on Windows Defender from the Settings app

  1. Open the Settings app. You can do that quickly by using Windows Key + I shortcut.
  2. When the Settings app opens, navigate to the 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

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.

7. Turn on Windows Defender using the command line

  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

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 as described above.

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 HKLMSOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows 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.


If you’re having trouble accessing Command Prompt as an admin, then you better take a closer look on this guide.


8. Check if Windows Defender service is running

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter services.msc. Now press Enter or click OK.
    Windows Defender blocked by Group Policy Windows 7
  2. A 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.

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.

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.

FAQ: Read more about Windows Defender problems

  • How do I turn on Windows Defender with group policy?
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 excellent guide to fix that like a pro.
  • Why my Windows Defender is turned off?
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.
  • Where is Windows Defender in group policy?
Go to Local Computer Policy > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Defender Antivirus.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been since revamped and updated in September 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Was this page helpful?
Thanks for letting us know! You can also help us by leaving a review on MyWOT or Trustpillot.
Get the most from your tech with our daily tips
Tell us why!