FIX: Windows Defender closes games in Windows 10/11

by Ivan Jenic
Ivan Jenic
Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
Passionate about all elements related to Windows and combined with his innate curiosity, Ivan has delved deep into understanding this operating system, with a specialization in drivers and... read more
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  • If Windows Defender is crushing your games, it's probably because it found some suspicious files.
  • Try switching to a third-party antivirus that will disable the default protection automatically.
  • You can always add the game's folder to the exclusion list so that it doesn't get scanned.
  • Turning off the Real-time protection can also end this issue pretty quickly so try it out.
What to do if Windows Defender closes games in Windows 10

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Windows Defender is a basic antivirus software that comes with pre-installed with Windows 10.

Although Windows Defender isn’t the best antivirus software it can do a decent job, but sometimes it can cause problems.

We have reports that Windows Defender is blocking Steam or other games, so let’s see if we can fix this somehow.

Here are some problems reported by users:

  • Windows Defender blocking programs, everything, applicationThe software can sometimes block certain applications from running. Unblock the application or disable the Controlled folder access feature.
  • Windows Defender blocking Steam – Many gamers reported that they are unable to run Steam because Windows Defender is blocking it. Add your Steam folder to the exclusions list.
  • Windows Defender exclusions not working – Windows Defender might block certain applications even if they are on the exclusions list. Disable Windows Defender entirely or switch to a different antivirus solution.

What can I do if Windows Defender closes your games?

1. Switch to a third-party antivirus

Windows Defender offers solid protection, but sometimes it can cause certain issues with games to appear. On the other hand, third-party antivirus applications often offer better protection and more security features.

We recommend the tool below because it’s light on your system and it doesn’t interfere with any of your games.

Another great advantage of this solution is the Gamer mode that makes sure you won’t be interrupted by any distractions like pop-ups.

This solution is also perfect for modern users who perform online payments and banking transactions and want to protect themselves against any attacks.

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2. Add an exclusion

  1. Go to Settings and open Update & Security.
  2. In the menu on the left select Windows Security. In the right pane click Open Windows Defender Security Center.
    Windows Defender blocking Steam
  3. On the right side of the window navigate to Virus & threat protection and click on Add or remove exclusions.
    Windows Defender exclusions not working
  4. Choose Add an exclusion.
  5. Now select the directory of the game that is being closed by Windows Defender.
  6. Click Exclude this folder and this folder won’t be monitored by Windows Defender anymore.

One way you can make Windows Defender leave your game alone is to exclude its folders from scanning. However, make sure that the contents aren’t truly harmful.

3. Turn off Windows Defender using group policy and the registry

  1. In the Search bar type gpedit.msc to open Local Group Policy Editor.
  2. On the left side navigate to: Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows DefenderWindows Defender blocking programs
  3. On the right side find Turn off Windows Defender and double-click it.
  4. Select the Disabled option. Windows Defender blocking Steam
  5. Click Apply and OK.
Note icon
Note: The Group Policy Editor is not available for the users running a Windows Home version. However, we have an excellent guide that will help you install it.

4. Turn off Controlled folder access

  1. Open the Settings app and navigate to Windows Defender Security Center.
  2. Go to Virus & threat protection in the left pane and click on Virus & threat protection settings from the right.
    Windows Defender blocking everything
  3. Scroll all the way down to the Controlled folder access section and click Manage Controlled folder access.
    Windows Defender blocking programs
  4. Disable the Controlled folder access feature.
    Windows Defender blocking Steam

According to users, sometimes certain features can cause Windows Defender to close games.

This antivirus has a useful feature called Controlled folder access, and thanks to this feature it protects certain folders from third-party applications.

Unfortunately, this means that this feature can sometimes prevent your games from making changes in certain directories. As a result, the game might not be able to start at all.

After turning this feature off, your games and other applications should be able to modify your directories, and the issue should be permanently resolved.

5. Turn off Real-time protection

  1. Navigate to Windows Defender Security Center.
  2. Go to the Virus & threat protection and then choose Virus & threat protection settings.
  3. Locate the Real-time protection option and disable it.
    Windows Defender blocking application

Windows Defender scans your computer in real-time, and if it notices anything suspicious it will block it from running or give you a notification.

Sometimes, Windows Defender can interfere with certain software, and that can lead to various issues. However, you can circumvent this issue simply by disabling real-time protection.

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Once you disable real-time protection, your games should start working again without any issues.

Keep in mind that disabling this option will make your system more vulnerable, so use this workaround only during the gameplay sessions.

Once you’re done with the game, be sure to turn on Real-time protection once again.

6. Make sure that the file you’re trying to run isn’t blocked

  1. Locate the application you’re trying to run, right-click it, and choose Properties from the menu.
    Windows Defender exclusions not working
  2. You should see the Unblock option at the bottom of the Properties window. Check the Unblock option and click Apply and OK to save changes.

After doing that, the application should be able to run without any problems so try the steps from above.

7. Enable the Game Mode

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. When Settings app opens, go to the Gaming section.
  3. In the left pane, select Game Mode and enable the Game Mode feature.
    Windows Defender blocking everything

After enabling the Game Mode feature, you should be able to run your games without any interference.

If you found this too complicated, you can also read our complete guide on how to enable the Game Mode in Windows 10.

8. Install the latest updates

  1. Open the Settings app and navigate to Update & Security section.
  2. Click the Check for updates button.

If any updates are available, they will be downloaded automatically in the background. Once the updates are downloaded, you’ll install them automatically as soon as your system restarts.

According to users, sometimes there might be a bug with Windows Defender that causes issues with games. However, you can fix the problem simply by installing the latest Windows updates.

Microsoft is frequently releasing new system updates, and these updates address various bugs and issues, so if you’re having any problems with Windows Defender, be sure to keep your system up to date.

9. Perform an in-place upgrade

  1. Download and run Media Creation Tool.
  2. Select Upgrade this PC and follow the instructions on the screen.
  3. Select Download and install updates (recommended).
  4. Follow the instructions until you reach Ready to install screen. Choose Change what to keep.
  5. Select Keep personal files and apps and click Next.

Follow the instructions to complete the process. Once the in-place upgrade is finished, you’ll have the latest version of Windows 10 installed and the problems with Windows Defender should be resolved.

We have to mention that this method will keep all your files and installed applications, so you can continue where you left off.

If you want to learn more about Windows Defender, you can read all about it in this comprehensive article.

At the moment we don’t have any other solutions on how to fix this issue, but we’ll keep you updated with new solutions if we find them.

In the meantime, we hope that we helped you learn how to stop Windows Defender from blocking a program or a game.

However, if the built-in security solution is giving you headaches, you can always pick a third-party tool from our best antiviruses with unlimited license list to replace it.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, reach for the comment section below, and maybe we can help you even more.

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