How to Run Windows Defender Alongside Malwarebytes

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Malwarebytes is a powerful security tool that is highly effective against malware and other nasty online threats that traditional antivirus programs don’t deal with. However, you can run it alongside a primary antivirus program such as Microsoft Defender to keep your computer in good security shape. The free version of Malwarebytes is perfect to run alongside Microsoft Defender because it doesn’t actually run in the background. Rather, it only activates when you click the scan button. This means it wouldn’t interfere with Defender.

You don’t have to do any extra configuration to get Malwarebytes to be effective for your computer. Simply install it and now and again, launch it to scan for “potentially unwanted programs (PUP), which it will search for and remove. Note that when you install Malwarebytes for the first time, you’ll actually be installing the 14-day free trial.

How can I run Malwarebytes with Microsoft Defender?

When you download Malwarebytes to your computer, the software automatically registers itself as the system’s security program by default. When this happens, Microsoft Defender switches itself off.  However, this doesn’t mean you can’t run the free version of Malwarebytes alongside Microsoft Defender.

Once your free trial is over, if you don’t upgrade, the free version of Malwarebytes will kick in, and you don’t need to do anything else. Defender will carry out automatic scans, whilst the free version of Malwarebytes will remove malware and other advanced threats that it finds on your computer. Note that unlike the free version, you won’t be able to run the premium version of Malwarebytes alongside Microsoft Defender without some configuration in both programs.

Download Malwarebytes

You can download Malwarebytes free trial. Once your 14-day free trial is up, simply do nothing and the free version will continue.

  1. Go to
  2. Malwarebytes for Windows
  3. Click on the orange Free Download button
  4. Click on Free Download
  5. Allow Malwarebytes Setup to make changes
  6. Click on Yes to complete installation of Malwarebytes
  7. Click on Personal Computer
  8. Click on the blue install button
  9. Click Yes to install Malwarebytes Browser Guard to block annoying popups and speed up your browser

In Malwarebytes, open Settings, click the “Security” tab and disable the “Always register Malwarebytes in the Windows Security Center” option by toggling it to off.  With this option disabled, Malwarebytes won’t register itself as the system’s security application and both Malwarebytes and Microsoft Defender will run at the same time.

Note that once you toggle off this setting, you may have to re-enable Microsoft Defender because it will have switched itself off. Don’t try to enable Microsoft Defender as long as the premium version of Malwarebytes is running because it won’t work without some extra configuration.

How can I re-enable Microsoft Defender?

  1. In the Windows search bar, type group policy.
  2. Click on ‘Edit group policy’
  3. Select Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Microsoft Defender Antivirus.
  4. Select “Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus” at the bottom of the list.
  5. Select Disabled or Not configured. Do not select Enabled as this switches off Microsoft Defender.  
  6. Select Apply > OK.

How can I check if Microsoft Defender is running?

1. In the Windows search bar, type task manager

2. Click on the Details tab.

3. Scroll down and look for MsMpEng.exe and look at the Status column. It will show if Defender is running. If you cannot find this file, then Microsoft Defender is not running on your machine.

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