Microsoft has been including its Windows Defender antivirus software in Windows 10, and now they’re also automatically including it and enabling it in Windows Server 2016. While this is welcomed by some organizations that may not have another antivirus solution, running multiple antivirus applications has been known to cause issues for a long time and has not been recommended by IT personnel for many years. In Windows 10, Windows Defender has an API that allows other antivirus programs to disable it to prevent issues. Unfortunately, Microsoft decided to remove that API option in Windows Server 2016, so even if you install another antivirus product, Windows Defender will still be enabled.
How To Disable Windows Defender In Roles And Features Wizard
The first place you can try to disable and remove Windows Defender is in the Roles and Features Wizard within Server Manager. Some people report that the option to remove Windows Defender is greyed out, which leaves Powershell.
Open Server Manager
Click Manage > Remove Roles And Features
Click Next on the Before You Begin screen
Click Next on the Server Selection screen
Click Next on the Remove Server Roles screen
On the Remove Features screen, uncheck Windows Defender Features if you’re able to and click Remove
How To Disable Windows Defender Using Powershell
If you’re unable to remove Windows Defender using the steps above, then you should be able to use Powershell to uninstall Windows Defender.
You can run sc query Windefend in a Command Prompt to see if Windows Defender is in the Running State.
Open an administrative Powershell window
Type Uninstall-WindowsFeature -Name Windows-Defender
After pressing enter, you’ll need to restart the server to uninstall Windows Defender
If you decide to use Windows Defender later, you can run Install-WindowsFeature -Name Windows-Defender in Powershell and restart the server to reinstall Windows Defender.