Enable Scan Network Files with Windows Defender in Windows 10

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How to Enable or Disable Scan Network Files with Windows Defender Antivirus in Windows 10

Windows Defender Antivirus uses security intelligence definitions to detect threats. Windows 10 automatically downloads the most recent intelligence available through Windows Update. Its options are available in Windows Security, a special dashboard app that allows you to review and manage most of the security options of the OS.

Windows Defender

Windows Defender is the default antivirus app shipped with Windows 10. Earlier versions of Windows like Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7 and Vista also had it but it was less efficient previously as it only scanned spyware and adware. In Windows 8 and Windows 10, Defender is based on the Microsoft Security Essentials app which offers better protection by adding full blown protection against all kinds of malware. Microsoft is renaming the app Microsoft Defender.

Windows Security

Recent Windows 10 version come with is a new app called Windows Security. The application, formerly known as "Windows Defender Dashboard" and "Windows Defender Security Center", has been created to help the user control his security and privacy settings in a clear and useful way. It includes all the settings related to Windows Defender. The Security Center app is reviewed in the post Windows Defender Security Center in Windows 10 Creators Update.

You can launch Windows Security from the Start menu or with a special shortcut. Alternatively, you can access it using its tray icon.

Note: Windows 10 allows to only temporary disable Windows Defender with a special option in Windows Security. After some period of time, it will be re-enabled automatically. If you need to disable it permanently, see Disable Windows Defender in Windows 10.

Signature Updates

Microsoft continually updates security intelligence in antimalware products to cover the latest threats and to constantly tweak detection logic, enhancing the ability of Windows Defender Antivirus and other Microsoft antimalware solutions to accurately identify threats. This security intelligence works directly with cloud-based protection to deliver fast and powerful AI-enhanced, next-generation protection. Also, you can update definitions manually.

You can enable or disable scanning of network files by Windows Defender with a special Group Policy option. This can be done with PowerShell, Local Group Policy Editor, or a Registry tweak.

To Enable Scan Network Files with Windows Defender in Windows 10,

  1. Open PowerShell as Administrator. Tip: You can add "Open PowerShell As Administrator" context menu.
  2. Type or copy-paste the following command: Set-MpPreference -DisableScanningNetworkFiles 0.
  3. The feature is now enabled. To disable Scan Network Files, use the command Set-MpPreference -DisableScanningNetworkFiles 1.
  4. Now you can close the PowerShell console.

You are done

Enable or Disable Scan Network Files with Group Policy

  1. Open the Local Group Policy editor app, or launch it for all users except Administrator, or for a specif user.
  2. Navigate to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Defender Antivirus\Scan on the left.
  3. In Windows 10 version 2004, navigate to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Microsoft Defender Antivirus\Scan. It is renamed to Microsoft Defender.
  4. On the right, find the policy setting Scan network files.
  5. Double-click on it and set the policy to Enabled.
  6. Setting the policy to Disabled or Not configured will disable the Scan Network Files feature.

Finally, you can apply a Registry tweak. The Local Group Policy Editor app is only available in  Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, or Education editions, so the Registry tweak method is what Windows 10 Home users can use.

Enable or Disable Scan Network Files with Registry Tweak

  1. Open Registry Editor.
  2. Go to the following Registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Scan. See how to jump to the desired Registry key with one click.
  3. If you do not have such a key, then just create it.
  4. Here, create a new 32-bit DWORD value DisableScanningNetworkFiles. Note: Even if you are running 64-bit Windows, you still need to use a 32-bit DWORD as the value type.
  5. Leave its value data as 0.
  6. Restart Windows 10 to apply the change.

You are done. Set DisableScanningNetworkFiles to 1 or delete this value to restore defaults (disable the network files scan feature).

To save your time, you can download the following ready-to-use Registry files. The undo tweak is included:

Download Registry Files

Tip: If you find no use for Windows Security and want to get rid of it, you may find the following articles useful:

Finally, you may want to disable the Windows Defender anti-virus app.

Related articles:

Also, check out these posts:

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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