FIX: Windows Defender closes games in Windows 10

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
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  • Windows Defender is the default antivirus protection software preinstalled in Windows 10. 
  • Sometimes, Windows Defender is held responsible for closing games, but we will fix that quickly.
  • It's very important to stay protected so check out our Antivirus Software section.
  • Visit our Windows 10 Hub for any news, guides, and tips about this popular OS.
How to fix Windows Defender closes games in Windows 10

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 closing 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 VIPRE Antivirus Plus 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 RapidScan technology that speeds up future scans by bypassing the files that were found to safe the previous times.

VIPRE Antivirus Plus offers anti-threat and ransomware protection but it also features cloud-enabled security.

If you care a lot about your privacy, you will also like the History cleaner feature. It checks the system for any files that may hold information about your computer and browsing habits and removes them.

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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.

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.
    Windows Defender blocking Steam
  2. On the left side navigate to: Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows Defender Windows 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.

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

Note: 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

Note: 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.

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.


7. Enable 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

Note: 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.

Once everything is up to date, check if the problem is still there.

Note: 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.

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.

Meanwhile, we also have an article regarding Windows Defender, so you can learn more about it.

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

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in October 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in September 2015 and was revamped and updated in October 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.