Fix: Malwarebytes Disables Windows Defender or 3rd Party Anti-Virus

After installing Malwarebytes Premium 14-day trial or licensed product, your anti-virus software (e.g., Windows Defender on Windows 8 or Windows 10) may get disabled automatically. In this scenario, when you attempt to start the Windows Defender Antivirus Service (WinDefend) via the Services console, it shows the following error and the service wouldn’t start.

The Windows Defender Antivirus Service service on Local Computer started and then stopped. Some services stop automatically if they are not in use by other services or programs.

windows defender disabled by malwarebytes premium

The result is exactly the same when you try to start these services:

  • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection Service
  • Windows Defender Antivirus Network Inspection Service

The Security and Maintenance applet in the classic Control Panel and Windows Defender Security Center will report that Malwarebytes is currently your “anti-virus” program. If Windows detects a third-party anti-virus software, it disables the built-in anti-virus module Windows Defender automatically.

windows defender disabled by malwarebytes premium

malwarebytes register windows security center

As you can see above, all of the Virus & threat protection options are missing, as Windows assumes a 3rd party anti-virus solution is installed. In that case, you’re offered to use Limited Periodic Scanning feature. If Windows Defender is not running, none of its features such as “block at first sight” (cloud protection), controlled folder access will work.

Although Malwarebytes company claims “Malwarebytes for Windows makes antivirus obsolete” in their advertisements, many experts don’t agree with that statement.

Quoting David H. Lipman, a Malware Researcher/Analyst.

MBAM is not an anti-virus application and does not replace an anti-virus application. MBAM is an adjunct, complimentary, anti-malware application.

In its role as an adjunct, complimentary, anti-malware application it has limitations in aspects that the anti-virus application performs in its role.

MBAM does not target script files. That means MBAM will not target; JS, JSE, PY, HTML, HTA, VBS, VBE, .CLASS, SWF, SQL, BAT, CMD, PDF, PHP, WSF, etc. It also does not target document files such as; PDF, DOC, DOCx, DOCm, XLS, XLSx, PPT, PPS, ODF, RTF, etc. It also does not target media files; MP3, WMV, JPG, GIF, etc.

So, Malwarebytes is not a replacement for an anti-virus product. That said, you’ll need to enable/run an anti-virus product alongside Malwarebytes anti-malware for better security.

Stop Malwarebytes from Turning Off Windows Defender

If installing Malwarebytes Premium disables Windows Defender or your 3rd party antivirus software, you’ll need to change a setting in Malwarebytes. Follow these steps:

  • Open Malwarebytes, and click Settings.
  • In the Security tab, scroll down to Windows Security Center section.
  • Disable the option Always register Malwarebytes in the Windows Security Centermalwarebytes register windows security centerIf you have another anti-virus software installed, then it’s suggested to have the “Always register Malwarebytes in the Windows Security Center” Malwarebytes setting disabled. Malwarebytes will then run alongside your third-party antivirus.

Note: Enabling the above setting causes Malwarebytes to register as a security application in the Windows Action Center irrespective of the state (and existence) of the antivirus program.

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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 in 2005.

11 thoughts on “Fix: Malwarebytes Disables Windows Defender or 3rd Party Anti-Virus”

  1. Unfortunately, the menu option described above has been removed in the 4.1.0 release. After installing the update, I realized defender was not running. Contacted Malwarebytes, and was told to upload my log file?? Really?

    I used to hold this app in high regard. Not so sure now.

    • @Joe: Malwarebytes v4.4. Open Malwarebytes Dashboard > Settings > Security > “Always register Malwarebytes in the Windows Security Center” (disable)

  2. Thank you for this information it was very helpful much appreciated, how they don’t have this as an instruction is beyond me

  3. Despite shutting down Malwarebytes, it is no longer possible to activate Windows Defender. A message appears – the threat service has stopped, unexpected error occurs and windows defender is automaticaly switched off again.


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