Windows Defender Antivirus on Windows Server 2016

Applies to:

  • Windows Server 2016

Audience

  • Enterprise security administrators
  • Network administrators

Manageability available with

  • Group Policy
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • PowerShell
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)

Windows Defender Antivirus is available on Windows Server 2016. In some instances it is referred to as Endpoint Protection - however, the protection engine is the same.

While the functionality, configuration, and management is largely the same for Windows Defender AV either on Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016, there are a few key differences:

  • In Windows Server 2016, automatic exclusions are applied based on your defined Server Role.
  • In Windows Server 2016, Windows Defender AV will not disable itself if you are running another antivirus product.

This topic includes the following instructions for setting up and running Windows Defender AV on a server platform:

Enable or disable the interface on Windows Server 2016

By default, Windows Defender AV is installed and functional on Windows Server 2016. The user interface is installed by default on some SKUs, but is not required.

If the interface is not installed, you can add it in the Add Roles and Features Wizard at the Features step, under Windows Defender Features by selecting the GUI for Windows Defender option.

Add roles and feature wizard showing the GUI for Windows Defender option

See the Install or uninstall roles, role services, or features topic for information on using the wizard.

The following PowerShell cmdlet will also enable the interface:

Install-WindowsFeature -Name Windows-Defender-GUI

To hide the interface, use the Remove Roles and Features Wizard and deselect the GUI for Windows Defender option at the Features step, or use the following PowerShell cmdlet:

Uninstall-WindowsFeature -Name Windows-Defender-GUI

Important

Windows Defender AV will still run normally without the user interface, but the user interface cannot be enabled if you disable the core Windows Defender feature.

Install or uninstall Windows Defender AV on Windows Server 2016

You can also uninstall Windows Defender AV completely with the Remove Roles and Features Wizard by deselecting the Windows Defender Features option at the Features step in the wizard.

This is useful if you have a third-party antivirus product installed on the machine already. Multiple AV products can cause problems when installed and actively running on the same machine. See the question "Should I run Microsoft security software at the same time as other security products?" on the Windows Defender Security Intelligence Antivirus and antimalware software FAQ.

Note

Deselecting Windows Defender on its own under the Windows Defender Features section will automatically prompt you to remove the interface option GUI for Windows Defender.

The following PowerShell cmdlet will also uninstall Windows Defender AV on Windows Server 2016:

Uninstall-WindowsFeature -Name Windows-Defender

To install Windows Defender AV again, use the Add Roles and Features Wizard and ensure the Windows Defender feature is selected. You can also enable the interface by selecting the GUID for Windows Defender option.

You can also use the following PowerShell cmdlet to install Windows Defender AV:

Install-WindowsFeature -Name Windows-Defender

Tip

Event messages for the antimalware engine included with Windows Defender AV can be found in Windows Defender AV Events.

Verify Windows Defender is running

To verify that Windows Defender AV is running on the server, run the following command from a command prompt:

sc query Windefend

The sc query command returns information about the Windows Defender service. If Windows Defender is running, the STATE value displays RUNNING.

Update antimalware definitions

In order to get updated antimalware definitions, you must have the Windows Update service running. If you use an update management service, like Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), make sure that updates for Windows Defender AV definitions are approved for the computers you manage.

By default, Windows Update does not download and install updates automatically on Windows Server 2016. You can change this configuration by using one of the following methods:

  • Windows Update in Control Panel.

    • Install updates automatically results in all updates being automatically installed, including Windows Defender definition updates.

    • Download updates but let me choose whether to install them allows Windows Defender to download and install definition updates automatically, but other updates are not automatically installed.

  • Group Policy. You can set up and manage Windows Update by using the settings available in Group Policy, in the following path: Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update\Configure Automatic Updates

  • The AUOptions registry key. The following two values allow Windows Update to automatically download and install definition updates.

    • 4 Install updates automatically. This value results in all updates being automatically installed, including Windows Defender definition updates.

    • 3 Download updates but let me choose whether to install them. This value allows Windows Defender to download and install definition updates automatically, but other updates are not automatically installed.

To ensure that protection from malware is maintained, we recommend that you enable the following services:

  • Windows Error Reporting service

  • Windows Update service

The following table lists the services for Windows Defender and the dependent services.

Service Name File Location Description
Windows Defender Service (Windefend) C:\Program Files\Windows Defender\MsMpEng.exe This is the main Windows Defender Antivirus service that needs to be running at all times.
Windows Error Reporting Service (Wersvc) C:\WINDOWS\System32\svchost.exe -k WerSvcGroup This service sends error reports back to Microsoft.
Windows Defender Firewall (MpsSvc) C:\WINDOWS\system32\svchost.exe -k LocalServiceNoNetwork We recommend leaving the Windows Defender Firewall service enabled.
Windows Update (Wuauserv) C:\WINDOWS\system32\svchost.exe -k netsvcs Windows Update is needed to get definition updates and antimalware engine updates

Submit Samples

Sample submission allows Microsoft to collect samples of potentially malicious software. To help provide continued and up-to-date protection, Microsoft researchers use these samples to analyze suspicious activities and produce updated antimalware definitions.

We collect program executable files, such as .exe files and .dll files. We do not collect files that contain personal data, like Microsoft Word documents and PDF files.

Enable automatic sample submission

  • To enable automatic sample submission, start a Windows PowerShell console as an administrator, and set the SubmitSamplesConsent value data according to one of the following settings:

    • 0 Always prompt. The Windows Defender service prompts you to confirm submission of all required files. This is the default setting for Windows Defender, but is not recommended for Windows Server 2016 installations without a GUI.

    • 1 Send safe samples automatically. The Windows Defender service sends all files marked as "safe" and prompts for the remainder of the files.

    • 2 Never send. The Windows Defender service does not prompt and does not send any files.

    • 3 Send all samples automatically. The Windows Defender service sends all files without a prompt for confirmation.

Configure automatic exclusions

To help ensure security and performance, certain exclusions are automatically added based on the roles and features you install when using Windows Defender AV on Server 2016.

See the Configure exclusions in Windows Defender AV on Windows Server topic for more information.