If your computer is slow, you may notice that the Anti-Malware Service executable, or MsMpEng.exe, process in Task Manager is hogging your resources. While you can disable it, it’s a good idea to understand the purpose of this process and how disabling it can affect the security of your PC.
What is an executable antimalware service?
As the name suggests, the antimalware service executable helps protect your computer from malware and other virus threats. It appears in Task Manager as MsMpEng.exe and is the background process for the Microsoft Defender built-in antivirus tool. Microsoft Defender was formerly known as Windows Defender.
It is designed to work like other antivirus tools by constantly running in the background. This helps protect you from threats in real time. While running, it scans all the files you open or download, scans your system for potential threats, updates itself, and other common antivirus tasks.
During scans and updates, the antimalware service executable process uses more resources. This is common among all types of antivirus tools. During peak usage, they tend to use more resources. However, usage should come back down after a scan or update. As you can see above, the RAM usage increased while I was performing an update. This dropped to around 150MB and less after the update was complete.
Should you deactivate the process?
As long as the anti-malware service executable process is not running hard all the time, you can leave it enabled. However, if you are having issues with constant resource usage, you might want to turn it off.
It is completely normal to turn off the process and even Microsoft Defender. Although it’s built-in, you don’t have to use it. Before doing this, install an alternative antivirus tool. Otherwise, you are leaving your system vulnerable. With the right precautions, you can be safe without an antivirus, but an extra layer of protection is always nice.
You can temporarily disable the process in Task Manager; however, it will restart when you restart your computer.
Complete the task if it is causing problems by pressing To win + X to open the Power User menu. Select “Task Manager”.
Right click on Antimalware Service Executable and select “End Task”.
This turns off Microsoft Defender for the rest of your session.
Disable Microsoft Defender
If you prefer not to use Microsoft Defender, you can temporarily turn it off. This stops the execution of the antimalware service executable. It won’t uninstall Microsoft Defender – just turn it off. For some users, it stays off after a reboot, but usually it turns back on after a reboot.
Go to “Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Security”.
Select Open Windows Security in the right pane to open Microsoft Defender settings. Choose “Virus and Threat Protection”.
Select “Manage settings” under “Virus and threat protection settings”.
Disable “Real-time protection” and “Cloud-delivered protection”.
Again, this is only temporary. You can permanently disable it through the Group Policy Editor, but it’s not available in the Home edition of Windows 10. In some newer versions of Windows 10 Pro, even the Group Policy option is not available.
Install third-party antivirus
If you install another antivirus tool, it may disable Microsoft Defender for you. Whenever an antivirus is not compatible with Microsoft Defender, it turns off to allow you to use the other. Some antivirus tools are compatible, which means the two work together.
Troubleshoot Using Anti-Malware Service Executables
Since you cannot permanently disable the service, you will have to resolve the high usage error in another way. The easiest solution is to update Microsoft Defender. These are included in Windows updates. Install the latest updates to resolve any issues you may encounter.
If you think you already have a virus, download and run the Microsoft Safety Scanner tool. A virus that has overtaken Microsoft Defender could wreak havoc with it. This tool includes the latest virus definitions to remove malware and get your system back to normal.
Overall, the antimalware service executable has nothing to worry about. If you’re unhappy with Microsoft Defender, just switch to another antivirus tool instead.
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