How to Schedule Windows Defender Scan in Windows 10

Windows Defender’s command-line utility MpCmdrun.exe is used for scheduling scans or updating definition files or signature using command-line. This post tells you how to setup Windows Defender to scan the computer daily at a specified time using Task Scheduler and MpCmdrun.exe in Windows 10.

Note: Windows 8 and 10 already include the Automatic Maintenance feature which runs many scheduled tasks including Windows Defender daily scan, but the task runs only if the system is idle. Moreover, Automatic Maintenance stops running once it detects user activity in the system.

If you can leave the system idle for some time daily for Automatic Maintenance, you don’t have to schedule it manually. Creating a scheduled task manually surely runs the scan, regardless of whether your system is idle or not.

Method 1: Create Windows Defender Scan Task Using SchTasks.exe

To schedule a daily Windows Defender scan, create a scheduled task using SchTasks.exe console tool using the following steps:

  1. Open a elevated Command Prompt. To do so, right-click Start and click Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. Type in the following command and press ENTER:
    schtasks /create /tn "Scan With Defender (Daily Quick Scan)" /sc DAILY /st 13:00 /ru SYSTEM /rl HIGHEST /tr "'C:\Program Files\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe' -Scan -ScanType 1"

    windows defender scan schedule

    This creates a Windows Defender Scan task that runs daily, at 13:00 hours under SYSTEM user account with highest privileges. If you running it under SYSTEM account you wouldn’t see the Command Prompt window that the task runs in. To see the Command Prompt window (interactive), change SYSTEM to your user name (say, John, in place of SYSTEM).

  3. Type EXIT to close the Command Prompt window.

The above command was given as an example. You can alter the scan schedule time, frequency (DAILY, WEEKLY, MONTHLY) accordingly as per your requirements. For more information about Schtasks.exe command-line switches, see Schtasks.exe | Microsoft Docs article.



Method 2: Create Windows Defender Scan Task Using Task Scheduler

If you’d like to configure Windows Defender Scan schedule using Task Scheduler GUI, use these steps:

  1. Click Start, type Task Scheduler and click Task Scheduler from the list.
  2. From the Action menu, click Create Basic Task…
    windows defender scan schedule
  3. Assign a name for the task, and give an apt description for the custom task.
    windows defender scan schedule
  4. If you want to run the task once daily, click Daily, and click Next.
    windows defender scan schedule
  5. Set the time when you want to task to run, and click Next.
    windows defender scan schedule
  6. In the Action dialog, click Start a program, and click Next.
    windows defender scan schedule
  7. In the Program/Script text box, mention the full path of MpCmdRun.exe. In the Add arguments text box, type one of the following:
    -Scan -ScanType 1 (for Quick Scan)
    -Scan -ScanType 2 (for Full system Scan)

    (or)

    SignatureUpdateAndQuickScan

    Editor’s Note: SignatureUpdateAndQuickScan parameter does two things just as the name implies; Updates the signatures and then runs a Quick Scan. It is a hidden parameter not mentioned in the help or anywhere, which works in Windows 8 and 10. I’ve recently unveiled this hidden and useful parameter; check out my earlier posts Using MpCmdRun.exe to Update Windows Defender and Run a Quick Scan in One Go and Command-line Switches to Automate Windows Defender GUI for more information.

    windows defender scan schedule

  8. Select the Open the Properties dialog for this task when I click Finish, and click Finish.
    windows defender scan schedule
  9. Enable the check box for Run with highest privileges.
  10. Select Windows 10 in the Configure for: drop down list box.
  11. Exit the Task Scheduler.That’s it! You’ve now created a task that launches Windows Defender Scan on schedule. The task duly runs as mentioned, at the specified time. The Command Prompt window can simply be minimized.
    windows defender scan scheduleIf you used the SignatureUpdateAndQuickScan parameter, it updates the signatures and follows up with a Quick Scan.windows defender scan schedule

    Quick Tip! You can also automate a scan using Windows Defender GUI, instead of the command-line interface version.

Hope the guide helped you learn the two methods which can be used to run Windows Defender Scheduled Scan on your Windows computer. Let’s know your comments.


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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded Winhelponline.com in 2005.

1 thought on “How to Schedule Windows Defender Scan in Windows 10”

  1. I used method 2 to set mine up to run daily and it works good but I keep getting a black screen that pops up during the scan that says scan starting the black screen won’t go away till the scan is done…. Anyway to fix this so the black screen won’t show up during the scan

    Reply

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