FIX: Windows Defender is turned off in Windows 11

Loredana Harsana
by Loredana Harsana
Windows & Software Expert
Loredana is a passionate writer with a keen interest in PC software and technology. She started off writing about mobile phones back when Samsung Galaxy S II was on top of the world and... Read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • If Windows Defender is turned off in Windows 11, that can put your online security at risk.
  • In most cases, this issue can be fixed by installing the latest updates from the Settings app.
  • You might have to edit your registry if Windows Defender is turned off automatically on your PC.
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Windows 11 is here, but if you haven’t tried it already, you should know that it has its share of bugs, which is somewhat expected from a new operating system.

Speaking of bugs, many reported that Windows Defender is turned off in Windows 11. This can be a problem since it will leave you without built-in protection.

Without a proper antivirus, your computer is prone to data loss, malware, and phishing attacks, therefore, it’s crucial that to solve this issue as soon as possible.

There are ways to fix this problem, and in this guide, we’re going to show you the best methods to use and enable Windows Defender once again.

How does Windows Defender work?

Windows Defender works as a default antivirus software on this operating system, and it has a long history. It was present since Windows Vista, and it has evolved over the years.

While the first versions offered limited protection, the current one comes with full malware and ransomware protection out of the box to all Windows users.

This means that you won’t even need an additional antivirus since the built-in protection will be able to detect almost every single malware in real-time.

What should I do if Windows Defender won’t turn on?

There are several reasons why Windows Defender won’t turn on, and this usually occurs after installing third-party antivirus software on your PC.

The two can’t work side by side, and this is why the built-in protection gets disabled automatically. Another reason might be because Windows Defender is turned off by Group Policy.

If that’s the case, you’ll have to adjust your policy settings and enable it again, and hopefully, that will resolve the issue.

What do I do if Windows Defender is turned off in Windows 11?

1. Install the latest updates

  1. Press Windows Key + I to open Settings.
  2. Go to the Windows Update in the left pane.
  3. In the right pane, click on Check for updates button.
  4. If any updates are available, Windows will download them automatically.
  5. Once the updates are downloaded, restart your PC to install the updates.

This issue seems to appear if you have Antimalware Platform Update .2106. Microsoft has fixed this problem and after installing Antimalware Platform Update .2107, the issue should be resolved.

Keep in mind that this update isn’t available to everybody, so you might not be able to download it right now. In case you’re having issues with the Settings app, be sure to check our guide on what to do if the Settings app crashes in Windows 11.

2. Modify your registry

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter regedit. Press Enter or click OK.
  2. In the left pane, go to the following key: Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender
  3. Right-click the Windows Defender key. Expand the New section and select Key.
  4. Enter Spynet as the name of the new key.
  5. Go to the Spynet key that you just created, right-click the space in the right pane and select the option to create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  6. Create three DWORDs:
    • DisableBlockAtFristSeen
    • SpynetReporting
    • SubmitSamplesConsent
  7. Double-click each of the three created DWORDs and set their Value Data like this: DisableBlockAtFristSeen: 0, SpynetReporting: 1, SubmitSamplesConsent: 1.
  8. After doing that, close Registry Editor.

3. Add Windows Defender shortcut to the Startup folder

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter shell:startup. Press Enter or click OK.
  2. When the Startup directory opens, right-click the space and expand the New menu. Select Shortcut from the menu.
  3. Click Browse.
  4. Go to the Windows Defender directory and select MsMpEng.exe. You can find this file in the following location:
    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Platform\version_number
  5. Now name the shortcut Windows Defender and click Finish.

Is it safe to turn off Windows Defender?

Windows Defender is the default antivirus software in Windows, and if you don’t have any other security software installed, turning off the built-in protection isn’t safe.

By doing so, you leave your system vulnerable to online threats and malicious files. Therefore, it’s not recommended to keep your malware protection turned off.

Is Windows Defender a good antivirus?

Windows Defender is a solid antivirus software and it provides great protection to your PC. To learn more about its security features, we suggest checking out Windows Defender vs Avast guide.

In case you prefer third-party security software, you can always use one of these antivirus applications for Windows 11 to protect your PC.

If the default protection is turned off in Windows 11, your system might be vulnerable to all sorts of online threats, but hopefully, our guide was able to help you with this problem. You can also take a closer look at this guide on what to do if Windows Defender won’t turn on in Windows 10.

Usually, this is caused by a glitch, and it can be resolved simply by updating your operating system to the latest version, or by making few registry adjustments.

Did you find another way to fix this problem? Share your solution with us in the comments section below.

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