How do I turn on Windows Defender if it isn’t already running?

Windows Defender is a built-in antivirus program that comes with Windows operating systems. It provides basic protection against malware and other security threats. While Windows Defender is generally reliable, it can become disabled due to user error or malicious software.

If your computer isn’t running Windows Defender, here are the steps you can take to turn it on:

Step 1: Check if Windows Defender is Disabled

If Windows Defender is disabled, you won’t be able to turn it on manually. To check, open Start and type “Windows Security”. In the list of programs that appear, click the option labeled “Windows Security”.

In the Windows Security window, select the icon labeled “Virus & threat protection”. Then, in the right-hand pane, scroll down to “Real-time protection” and confirm that the toggle switch reads “On”. If it reads “Off”, you will need to manually enable Windows Defender.

Step 2: Uninstall Third-Party Antivirus Programs

If your computer is running third-party antivirus software in addition to Windows Defender, the two programs can interfere with each other and cause errors. To prevent this, uninstall the third-party software and then restart your computer.

To uninstall an antivirus program, open the Control Panel, select “Uninstall a Program”, and then find the program in the list of installed applications. When you’ve highlighted it, click “Uninstall”.

Step 3: Run the Windows Defender Troubleshooter

If you’re unable to turn on Windows Defender manually, you may need to use the Windows Defender troubleshooter to ensure that Windows Defender is working properly. To do so, open the Control Panel, select “System and Security”, and then click the “Find and Fix Problems” option under the “Security and Maintenance” heading.

In the troubleshooting window, select “Security System”, then “Windows Defender”, and then click “Advanced”. Finally, choose the option to “Run as administrator” and then click “Next”. The troubleshooter will then scan for any issues with Windows Defender and attempt to resolve them automatically.

Step 4: Turn on Windows Defender Manually

If the troubleshooter hasn’t been able to turn on Windows Defender, you can try to do so manually. Open the Control Panel and select “System and Security”. Then, click the “Check Firewall Status” option under the “Security and Maintenance” heading.

In the next window, select the option labeled “Windows Defender Firewall” and click “Turn On”. Follow the instructions to complete the process. Once Windows Defender is enabled, you should be able to open the Windows Security window and confirm that the Real-Time Protection toggle reads “On”.

Step 5: Run a Scan

Once Windows Defender is turned on, it’s important to run a full system scan to check for any existing security threats before using your computer. To do this, open the Windows Security window and select the “Virus & threat protection” tab. Then, press “Scan now” and follow the instructions to complete the scan.

Windows Defender is a powerful, built-in security program that can help protect your computer from malware and other security threats. If it’s not running on your system, follow the steps above to turn it on and run a full scan to ensure that your computer is secure.