Potentially harmful software detected: How to remove the alert in Windows 10

By: Aleksandar Ognjanovic
4 minute read
potentially harmful software detected

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Windows Defender is much better than Windows Security Essentials were, but it still has some issues, and not in regards to protection. Namely, it seems that sometimes is overeager to prevent certain application and it literally bombards users with ”Potentially harmful software detected” message.

Now, you might say, ”But it’s just doing its job”. Well, that would be the case if the users haven’t created an exception for certain executable file and the containing folder. Windows Defender is sometimes just over-determined, and below we provided ways to resolve this for good.

A potentially harmful software has been detected in Windows 10

  1. Scan system with Windows Defender or a third-party antivirus
  2. Disable Windows Defender and stick with the third-party antivirus
  3. ‘Kill’ Windows Defender in the Group Policy Editor
  4. Use Registry Editor instead

Solution 1: Scan the system with Windows Defender or a third-party antivirus

Firstly, let’s try and deal with the instigator of this disturbance. Even though you are 100% sure that the suspicious application is clean, let’s indulge Windows Defender and scan for viruses. And then maybe, but just maybe, it’ll leave you alone and that annoying popping sound will stop repeating over and over again.

Now, the best way to scan and remove malicious software with Windows Defender in Windows 10 is the Offline scan. If you’re not sure how to run it, we got your back. Follow the instructions below:

  1. Open Windows Defender from the notification area.
  2. Select Virus & threat protection.potentially harmful software detected
  3. Choose Advanced scan.potentially harmful software detected
  4. Select Windows Defender Offline scan and click Scan now.potentially harmful software detected
  5. Your PC will restart and the scanning process shall commence.

Now, even though one can say that Windows Defender is providing reliable protection, we’re still more inclined towards third-party solutions. Especially Bitdefender Internet Security 2018, that brings so much to the table for a quite fair price.

We’re sure you’ll find good enough reasons to acquire it if you sneak a peek at our full review of Bitdefender.

Solution 2: Disable Windows Defender and stick with the third-party antivirus

Furthermore, you’ll have easier time configuring the notifications and creating exceptions with a third-party solution. Namely, as some users have stated, despite they explicitly ordered Windows Defender to avoid that one application, it just refuses to do so. For some of them, that was the drop that filled the glass. They decided to ditch Windows Defender, and if you’re inclined to do so, too, make sure to follow the steps below:

  1. Press Windows key + I to open Settings.
  2. Choose Update & security.potentially harmful software detected
  3. Select Windows Defender from the left pane.
  4. Click on ”Open Windows Defender Security Center”.potentially harmful software detected
  5. Open ”Virus & threat protection” section.potentially harmful software detected
  6. Choose Virus & threat protection settings.potentially harmful software detected

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    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 Patended Technologies (requires upgrade).

  8. Toggle off Real-time protection.potentially harmful software detected

Solution 3: ‘Kill’ Windows Defender in the Group Policy Editor

Finally, if Windows Defender is still bothering you, there’s a simple way to disable it completely. Since it’s the core part of Windows 10 shell, you won’t be able to uninstall it. At least, not with the usual approach. You have two ways to disable it completely:

  • With Local Group Policy Editor
  • With Registry Editor

However, you can completely subdue it with the little tweak in Group Policy Editor. Don’t forget that you’ll need the administrative permission to do so. In addition, the Local Group Policy Editor is only available in the Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions.  Follow these instructions to do it:

  1. In the Windows Search bar, type group policy, and open Edit group policy.potentially harmful software detected
  2. Follow this path:
    • Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Defender Antivirus
  3. In the right pane, right-click on the Turn Off Windows Defender and click Edit.potentially harmful software detected
  4. Set the policy to Enabled and confirm changes.potentially harmful software detected
  5. Restart your PC for them to take effect.

Solution 4: Use Registry Editor instead

If you’re not able to access Group Policy Editor, don’t worry. You can block Windows Defender trough Registry Editor, as well. However, we advise you to avoid rush moves since this is a danger zone. The misuse of Registry can lead to critical system errors, the ones that are hard to correct. So, follow these steps closely to avoid any further issues:

  1. In the Windows Search, type regedit, right-click on Registry Editor and run it as an administrator.potentially harmful software detected
  2. Follow this path:
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender
  3. In the right pane, right-click on the ”DisableAntiSpyware” DWORD and open Properties.
  4. Change its value from 0 (zero) to 1.
  5. If you can’t see the DWORD, right-click on the empty space and create DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name it DisableAntiSpyware and, set its value to 1.potentially harmful software detected

With that, we can conclude this article. We hope Windows Defender won’t bother you anymore after you took the aforementioned steps. Do you prefer Windows Defender over third-party tools? Make sure to tell us in the comments section.

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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 Patended Technologies (requires upgrade).

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