Skip to main content

What is the Antimalware Service Executable, and should you disable it?

A Windows 11 device running Microsoft Defender.
Microsoft

The Antimalware Service Executable is a process you might see pop-up in Task Manager’s task list now and again, beavering away at … something. While it’s not always obvious what it’s up to, and the sign of “malware” in your process list might put the fear in you, you needn’t fret. It’s an important component in your Windows security, working as part of the iconic Windows Defender suite of tools.

In the past, older PCs may have seen a performance advantage from disabling the antimalware service executable, but unless you really, really have to for some very specific reasons, you shouldn’t need to on a modern PC. Indeed, it would be better if you didn’t.

What is the antimalware service executable?

The antimalware service executable, or MsMpEng.exe, to use the name you’ll probably see crop up in Task Manager, is a component of the Windows Defender antimalware suite of tools. Together they help protect your Windows PC from viruses and other malware that might otherwise try to steal your data or corrupt your system files.

It was introduced in Windows 8, so it has been a component of the modern Windows ecosystem for over a decade, and it’s still in use in Windows 10 and 11 today.

Should you disable the antimalware service executable?

In a word, no. For a longer answer, let’s look at why you might be considering disabling this process in the first place.

The classic reason to shut down any ongoing processes in Windows is to improve performance. In older versions of Windows, running on much older, slower hardware, the MsMpEng.exe process could end up using an inordinate amount of system resources — typically CPU cycles and system memory. While disabling it could be a way to free up some system resources, that’s much less of a concern on modern systems, where the impact that the antimalware service executable has on the system is comparably minuscule thanks to advances in computing performance.

Disabling the antimalware service executable also reduces your system security. Without this process, your Windows Defender won’t be able to scan for malicious code or install antivirus updates in quite the same way. That’s not necessarily a problem if you have your own antimalware solution, but Windows Defender does work well with a range of antivirus and other protective software, so you would still be reducing your overall security.

How to disable the antimalware service executable

If you have to disable the antimalware service executable, here’s how to do it.

Note: If you have your own antivirus solution, it’s probable that real-time protection, and therefore the antimalware service executable, will already be disabled.

Step 1: Search for Windows Security in the Windows search bar and select the corresponding result.

Turning of Windows Defender live detection.
Digital Trends

Step 2: Select Manage Settings under “Virus and threat protection settings.”

Step 3: Toggle Real-time protection to off, to turn off the MsMpEng.exe.

If you don’t have an alternative antivirus solution, here are some of our favorite free options.

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
Windows 11 tips and tricks: 8 hidden settings you need to try
Windows 11 on a tablet.

Windows 11 has been around for quite a while now. The operating system isn't as new as when it first came out in 2021, but many people are still updating it for the first time from Windows 10. Yet whether you're new to Windows 11 or have been using it since launch, there are a few things that you still might want to tweak to get a better experience. Microsoft doesn't have all these settings upfront, but we're here to surface them for you.
Move the Taskbar and Start Menu to the left

One of the biggest differences between Windows 10 and Windows 11 is the location of the Taskbar and Start Menu. On Windows 10, the Taskbar and Start Menu are positioned to the left of the screen. Windows 11, though, changes that by moving both to the center. If this annoys you, then you can easily change it back.

Read more
What is an RSS feed? Here’s why you should still use one
A person using a HP ENVY x360 2-in-1 15.6-inch Touch-Screen Laptop sitting on a bed.

It can be tough to keep up with what's happening online. You might even try several different ways, including visiting specific websites every day, doing Google searches, or relying on social media timelines and news feeds to keep yourself informed. But another solution that sometimes gets overlooked is an old-school one: The RSS feed.

What is an RSS feed? It's a technology that has influenced many modern internet tools you're familiar with, and its streamlined, algorithm-free format could make it your next great tool for reading what you want online.
What is RSS?
What RSS stands for depends on who you ask. The main consensus is that it stands for "Really Simple Syndication." But you may also hear that it stands for "Rich Site Summary."  At its heart though, RSS essentially refers to simple text files with necessary, updated information -- news pieces, articles, that sort of thing. That stripped-down content gets plugged into a feed reader, an interface that quickly converts the RSS text files into a stream of the latest updates from around the web.

Read more
A major Windows update just launched. Here’s what’s new
Person using Windows 11 laptop on their lap by the window.

Microsoft has just announced the latest update to Windows 11, which brings the operating system up to version 23H2. This is a cumulative update that comes with some of the most exciting features already announced in September, including Copilot, and brings some changes to Teams, among other things. Here's what's new and how to get it on your own PC.

When Microsoft first announced Copilot during its September event, many thought that it'd be available right away -- and it was, but not widely. Now, with the 23H2 update, Copilot should be downloaded and toggled on by default, alongside everything else that was announced during the Surface event. Some new things are on the way, too.

Read more