The Windows Defender Security Center app

Applies to

  • Windows 10, version 1703 and later

In Windows 10, version 1703 we introduced the new Windows Defender Security Center app, which brings together common Windows security features into one app. Many settings that were previously part of the individual features and main Windows Settings have been combined and moved to the new app, which is installed out-of-the-box as part of Windows 10, version 1703.

Screen shot of the Windows Defender Security Center app showing that the device is protected and five icons for each of the features

In Windows 10, version 1709, we increased the scope of the app to also show information from third-party antivirus and firewall apps.

Note

The Windows Defender Security Center app is a client interface on Windows 10, version 1703 and later. It is not the Windows Defender Security Center web portal console that is used to review and manage Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection.

This library describes the Windows defender Security Center app, and provides information on configuring certain features, inlcuding:

You can find more information about each section, including options for configuring the sections - such as hiding each of the sections - at the following topics:

  • Virus & threat protection, which has information and access to antivirus settings and the Controlled folder access feature of Windows Defender Exploit Guard
  • Device performance & health, which has information about drivers, storage space, and general Windows Update issues
  • Firewall & network protection, which has information and access to firewall settings, including Windows Defender Firewall
  • App & browser control, covering Windows Defender SmartScreen settings and Exploit protection mitigations
  • Family options, which includes access to parental controls along with tips and information for keeping kids safe online

Open the Windows Defender Security Center app

  • Right-click the icon in the notification area on the taskbar and click Open.

    Screen shot of the icon for the Windows Defender Security Center app on the Windows task bar

  • Search the Start menu for Windows Defender Security Center.

    Screen shot of the Start menu showing the results of a search for the Windows Defender Security Center app, the first option with a large shield symbol is selected

Note

Settings configured with management tools, such as Group Policy, Microsoft Intune, or System Center Configuration Manager, will generally take precedence over the settings in the Windows Defender Security Center. See the topics for each of the sections for links to configuring the associated features or products.

How the Windows Defender Security Center app works with Windows security features

Important

Windows Defender AV and the Windows Defender Security Center app use similarly named services for specific purposes.

The Windows Defender Security Center app uses the Windows Defender Security Center Service (SecurityHealthService or Windows Security Health Servce), which in turn utilizes the Security Center service (wscsvc) to ensure the app provides the most up-to-date information about the protection status on the endpoint, including protection offered by third-party antivirus products, Windows Defender Firewall, third-party firewalls, and other security protection.

These services do not affect the state of Windows Defender AV. Disabling or modifying these services will not disable Windows Defender AV, and will lead to a lowered protection state on the endpoint, even if you are using a third-party antivirus product.

Windows Defender AV will be disabled automatically when a third-party antivirus product is installed and kept up to date.

Disabling the Windows Security Center service will not disable Windows Defender AV or Windows Defender Firewall.

Warning

If you disable the Security Center service, or configure its associated Group Policy settings to prevent it from starting or running, the Windows Defender Security Center app may display stale or inaccurate information about any antivirus or firewall products you have installed on the device.

It may also prevent Windows Defender AV from enabling itself if you have an old or outdated third-party antivirus, or if you uninstall any third-party antivirus products you may have previously installed.

This will significantly lower the protection of your device and could lead to malware infection.

The Windows Defender Security Center app operates as a separate app or process from each of the individual features, and will display notifications through the Action Center.

It acts as a collector or single place to see the status and perform some configuration for each of the features.

Disabling any of the individual features (through Group Policy or other management tools, such as System Center Configuration Manager) will prevent that feature from reporting its status in the Windows Defender Security Center app. The Windows Defender Security Center app itself will still run and show status for the other security features.

Important

Individually disabling any of the services will not disable the other services or the Windows Defender Security Center app.

For example, using a third-party antivirus will disable Windows Defender Antivirus. However, the Windows Defender Security Center app will still run, show its icon in the taskbar, and display information about the other features, such as Windows Defender SmartScreen and Windows Defender Firewall.