Enable or disable Windows Defender's cloud and real-time protection

One of the less visible features of Windows 10 is that Windows Defender offers improved security using cloud-based antivirus protection. When enabled, Windows Defender sends information to Microsoft about any problems it finds. This information is then used to gather more information about the problems affecting you and other users of Windows 10. With your help, Microsoft can develop new anti-malware signatures and fixes that can help deal with malware more effectively. Here is how to enable or disable the Cloud-delivered protection and the real-time protection offered by Windows Defender in Windows 10:

NOTE: The features shared in this article were first introduced in Windows 10 with Anniversary Update. However, some things have changed in Windows 10 with October 2018 Update, so we updated the article accordingly.

Step 1. Open the Windows Security app

The first thing you have to do to be able to change the cloud and real-time scanning settings for Windows Defender is to open the Windows Security app. One easy way to do that is to click or tap on the Windows Security shortcut from the Start Menu.

The Windows Security shortcut from the Start Menu

Another way to open Windows Security is to search for it: type security in the search field on your taskbar, and then click or tap on Windows Security (or on Open, in the preview area).

Searching for Windows Security

A third way to launch Windows Security is to do it from the Settings app. Open Settings and follow this path: "Update & Security -> Windows Security." Then click or tap on the "Open Windows Security" button from the right side of the window.

The Windows Security section from the Settings app

Step 2. Open the Virus & threat protection settings

In the Windows Security app, click or tap Virus & threat protection.

The Virus & threat protection settings

Scroll down until you find the section called "Virus & threat protection settings." In it, you should see a link called "Manage settings." Click or tap on it.

The Manage settings link from Windows Security

Step 3. Enable or disable Real-time and Cloud-delivered protection

On the next page of the app, you should find an option called "Real-time protection" and another one called "Cloud-delivered protection."

The "Real-time protection" is a feature of Windows Defender that "locates and stops malware from installing or running on your device." It is highly advisable to leave this option turned on or set it to On if it is switched off.

The Real-time protection switch for Windows Defender Antivirus

If you already have other antivirus software installed, then this option might be disabled by Windows 10 itself. In this case, the switch is disabled completely, and you cannot change it.

Disabled Real-time protection when another antivirus is installed

The "Cloud-delivered protection" is also turned on by default and it "provides increased and faster protection with access to the latest protection data in the cloud." It also states that it "works best with Automatic sample submission turned on," which sends samples of suspicious files to Microsoft without prompting you to do so.

If you are highly concerned about your privacy, you may consider disabling the last setting. However, if security is more important to you, then leave both "Cloud-delivered protection" and "Automatic sample submission" turned on.

Windows Defender Antivirus: Cloud-delivered protection & Automatic sample submission

Note that, if you want to find more details about what information is sent to Microsoft and how it is used, you can always click or tap the "Privacy Statement" links found beneath these settings.

Did you enable the real-time and cloud-delivered protection features in Windows Security?

As you can see, enabling the real-time and cloud-delivered protection features offered by Windows Defender in Windows 10 is easy. We recommend that you leave both these settings turned on, as they help Windows Defender protect you better against malware and other threats. If you are looking for more security related tips and tricks, also check the related articles we shared below.