Solution for ‘Malware detected Windows Defender is taking action’ alerts

Andrew Wafer
by Andrew Wafer
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  • Windows Defender has a very long history and has been renamed a few times. The good news is that it kept evolving and now it's a pretty decent antivirus. 
  • In case the alerts and pop-us are confusing or don't make sense, follow this guide to fix any incompatibilities and scan for malware. 
  • This article is part of a series of guides to fixing Windows Defender errors
  • Make sure to bookmark the Windows 10 Troubleshooting Hub if you are interested in reading about general errors or update bugs. 
malware detected windows defender

If you just received a system pop-up from Windows Defender saying that malware detected Windows Defender is taking action to clean detected malware but nothing happens, you need to make sure that everything is still secured.

A virus or a malware might be causing all these problems, though, on the other hand, it might be only a compatibility issue between Windows Defender and another third-party antivirus program.

So, before taking any action you need to make sure that Windows Defender is properly running on your Windows 10 system.

The first thing you should do is to verify the Windows Defender history. The antivirus program might have found infected files but it might not be able to properly remove them (especially if the ‘malware detected Windows Defender is taking action’ message is displayed repeatedly).

If that occurred, then identify these files and manually remove them. You can also run the Microsoft Safety Scanner in order to extend the Windows Defender functionality.

If the history log isn’t showing any infected files it might be because Windows Defender detects the same virus but in different locations, and so does not make a history entry. In that case, you should choose a different antivirus solution that can perform a more complex scan.

You can also initiate the system scan through Safe Mode – in safe mode, third-party apps and processes are disabled by default so certain malware won’t be able to interfere with the scanning and removal process.

In that matter, I recommend you to install BullGuard AV as this is one of the best antivirus solutions that you can use today.

Don’t worry, installing this antivirus is intuitive, you only have to follow on-screen prompts.

Having won several awards from independent tests, it has proven its capability of detecting multiple types of malware and completely cleaning the system.

The 15-day trial will surely convince you that it has a small footprint so it will not have a negative impact on the performance of your computer.

The top features that make BullGuard a good choice are:

  • light on system resources, comparable with Windows Defender
  • Game Booster mode that blocks pop-ups or interruptions
  • Vulnerability Scanner that goes beyond a simple scan and comes with various recommendations
BullGuard Antivirus

BullGuard Antivirus

Get this top antivirus to replace Windows Defender. It comes with Advanced Machine Learning capabilities to ensure protection against zero-day threats.

During the installation process, Windows Defender should be automatically disabled. If it’s not, you need to perform this operation manually:

  • Access Local Group Policy Editor on your computer: press Win+R and enter gpedit.msc.
  • From there navigate towards: Computer Configuration – > Administrative Templates – > Windows Components – > Windows Defender.
  • Click on the Windows Defender field and from the right panel of the main window click on Turn off Windows Defender.
  • Choose Enable – this will actually disable the default Windows Defender software.

In the end, run BitDefender and initiate a full scan. If malicious files will be found, the antivirus will automatically remove everything.

Remember that you should perform the system scan from Safe Mode for being about to delete even the most persistent malware. You can enter safe mode by following:

  • Press the Win+R hotkeys and enter msconfig.
  • The System Configuration window will be displayed.
  • Switch to boot tap and click on the Safe boot option.safe mode with networking
  • Also, select the Network option.
  • Save your changes and restart your computer.
  • Done.

Now, if there isn’t any infected file left on your computer but you still receive the Windows Defender malware detected Windows Defender is taking action to clean detected malware message you should verify any possible conflicts between Windows Defender and other similar security programs.

For example, if you also use Kaspersky and its license expired, Windows Defender will identify the antivirus as a potential deceptive program.

So, now you should know how to react when noticing the malware detected Windows Defender is taking action to clean detected malware pop-up message displayed by Windows Defender.

As already outlined, you should choose a third-party antivirus solution easily identify and remove even the most complex malware and viruses.

FAQ: Read more about Windows Defender

  • Can Windows Defender detect malware?

Even if it comes enabled by default with the operating system, Windows Defender does a pretty good job of detecting viruses. Read why Windows Defender might be the best for you.

  • Do I need McAfee if I have Windows Defender?

It is generally a good idea to not have two antivirus solutions running at the same time. Windows Defender is robust enough to be the only one installed and running. If it failed you, you can consider making a switch to a recommended antivirus.

  • How do you see what Windows Defender is blocking?

Open Windows Security -> Firewall & Network Protection -> Allow an app through firewall. There you can see a list of apps that are blocked.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2017 and has been since revamped and updated in June 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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