When I browse through forums I often find this question asked many times – I am unable to turn on Windows Defender manually or Windows Defender won’t or will not turn on and start in Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7. If you face this issue, then this post may help you.

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On Windows 10, open Windows Security > Virus protection and toggle the Real-Time Protection switch to On position.2> Check the date or time on your PCThe other issue that could cause Windows Defender not to work properly is the incorrect date or time on your Windows machine. Make sure you have set your Windows clock & date set properly and then try to turn your Windows Defender back on and see if it works fine. It’s strange, but most of the Windows operating system functions work, based on the system date and time. So an incorrect date or time could trigger abnormal behavior in your Windows OS.
3> Run Windows UpdateAnother important thing that could cause issues is, if you Windows is not up to date, in terms of Windows Update. This could cause issues in Windows Defender or any other Windows core application. When it comes to any security software, it always needs the latest signature updates and other Windows core updates to keep your PC secure. So I would highly recommend running a complete Windows Update, then go into Windows Defender and run an update from there as well. Then see if your Windows Defender is working fine.4> Check Internet Zone settingsThe above-discussed scenarios are the most common ones. Apart from these, there could be some minor issues that could affect the working of Windows Defender. It could be an incorrect Zone setting in Internet Explorer, which you can fix by resetting Internet Explorer to factory settings. Again, if you are using a Proxy server, Windows Defender will not be able to update.In such cases, you need to make some small changes to your Proxy server.Press Windows + X and select Command Prompt (Admin)Type in the following and hit Enter:NETSH WINHTTP SET PROXY 1.1.1.1:8080 or NETSH WINHTTP SET PROXY MYPROXY.NET:8080Now reboot the system and see if it works.5> Check Group Policy settingOpen Group Policy Editor and navigate to the following setting:Computer Configuration > Administrative Template > Windows Components > Windows Defender Antivirus.SIn the right pane, double-click on Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus.Next, select Not Configured, click the Apply and OK button.6> Check Registry settingOpen Registry Editor and navigate to the following setting:HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows DefenderLocate DisableAntiSpyware key. If this key is not present, create a new and DWORD (32-bit) Value.Set its Value data to 0 and exit.7> Check the status of ServiceRun services.msc to open Services Manager. Ensure that the Windows Defender service is started and set to Automatic.8> Scan PC with portable antivirus softwareFinally, it could be a malware itself that’s causing Windows Defender not to work properly. You could download and use Windows Defender Offline Tool or any other standalone antivirus software and run a complete scan.9> Check value of AllowUserUIAccessIf under Windows Security settings, the option for “Virus & threat protection” has disappeared, then Andrew suggests the following:Run Registry Editor as Administrator and go to:Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Policy ManagerSet value of AllowUserUIAccess to 1.These are some common reasons why Windows Defender does not start.

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PS: Windows Defender is turned off or not working offers some additional troubleshooting suggestions, which may also interest you.You may also want to check out these posts which help troubleshoot Windows Defender problems:Error 0x800106a, Windows Defender will not turn onWindows Defender Error Code 0x800106ba: Application failed to initializeWindows Defender Error: MSASCui.exe – Unable To Locate ComponentError 0x80070422 The Service Couldn’t Be Started in Windows DefenderError 0x80508020, 0x800705b4 for Windows Defender.

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Microsoft Defender SmartScreen prevented an unrecognized app from starting

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Error 8024402f, Protection definition update failed on Windows 11

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Better manage Microsoft Defender with DefenderUI for Windows 11/10


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Shyam aka “Captain Jack” is a Microsoft MVP alumnus and a Windows Enthusiast with an interest in Advanced Windows troubleshooting. Suggestions made and opinions expressed by him here are his personal one"s and not of his current employers. He blogs at captaindbg.com.
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