How to Fix Windows Defender Automatically Disabled by Group Policy?


Issue: How to Fix Windows Defender Automatically Disabled by Group Policy?

When I try to enable Windows Defender, I get the “This app is turned off by group policy” error. I use Windows 7. Could someone please help?

Solved Answer

People keep complaining about Windows Defender that gets automatically disabled by the system. This problem often lead to the “This app is turned off by group policy” error, which manifests on Windows 7 and 10 when trying to turn Windows Defender on.

Windows Defender is the security software developed by Microsoft and built-into all Windows OS versions. Nevertheless, the program’s protective functions[1] differ according to the OS version. In Windows 7 and Vista, it works as an anti-spyware only, meaning that it won’t protect PC’s from cyber infections like the notorious WannaCry.[2]

When dealing with Windows 8.1 and 10, it runs as multifunctional anti-virus software, which is capable of detecting and eliminating threats like PUP, adware, spyware, virus, Trojan,[3] keylogger, and so on.

While the trustworthiness of the Windows Defender is still being questioned by specialist, the fact is that it is fully compatible with Windows OS and uses much less CPU both while performing a full scan and working in the background. The problem is that for most people Windows Defender is turned off by Group Policy and cannot be enabled. Windows Defender keeps turning off

It doesn’t matter which Windows OS version you use. “This app is turned off by group policy” error can occur on any of them once different security software gets installed. In Windows 8.1 and 10, the system turns Windows Defender off by default when alternative antivirus or a program that is not compatible with it gets installed. Since in Windows Vista and 7 it works as an antispyware only, Windows Defender does not disconnect itself every time, but “This app is turned off by group policy” error also indicates the presence of another security tool or another incompatible program.

Fix Windows Defender automatically disabled by Group Policy error on Windows 7 and 10

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If you don’t prefer using Windows Defender, then leave it as it is. The “This app is turned off by group policy” error will occur only if you try to open Defender or run a scan with it, so it should not distract your work with PC. If you are satisfied with another security program, leave it as your primary one and forget about the “This app is turned off by group policy.”

If, however, you opt for using Windows Defender, first of all, make sure to uninstall third-party anti-virus tool if you are using Windows 8.1 or 10. In case of Windows 7 or Vista, you should try installing another anti-virus program or enabling Windows Essentials. In, after all, Group Policy keeps disabling Windows Defender, here’s what fixes you can try:

Method 1. Open Group Policy

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  1. Log on to your PC with administrative privileges.
  2. Then press Windows key + R to open Run, type gpedit.msc, and hit Enter.
  3. Alternatively, you can type gpedit.msc in Windows search.
  4. When Group Policy opens, open Local Computer Policy -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows Defender.
  5. Select Windows Defender Antivirus option.
  6. Now double-click on the Turn off Windows Defender option.
  7. Select Disabled and click OK to save the changes. Use Group Policy editor

Fix 2. Open Windows Registry Editor

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  1. Press Windows key + R to open Run dialog.
  2. Type regedit and press Enter.
  3. Use the left pane to navigate to the HKey_Local_Machine\\Software\\Policies\\Microsoft\\Windows Defender path.
  4. Remove the DisableAntiSpyware key. To do that, double click on the REG –DWORD and set its value to 0.
  5. If you cannot change its value, then remove the whole key. Open Windows Registry Editor

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About the author
Lucia Danes
Lucia Danes - Security researcher

Lucia Danes is the news editor at UGetFix. She is always on the move because the eager for knowledge makes her travel around the globe and attend InfoSec events and conferences.

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