How to enable Defender Antivirus periodic scanning on Windows 11

Microsoft Defender Antivirus Periodic scanning helps you to detect malware that a third-party solution may have missed.

Defender Antivirus periodic scanning
  • To enable periodic scanning on Windows 11, open Windows Security > Virus & threat protection, click “Microsoft Defender Antivirus options,” and turn on “Periodic scanning.”

Microsoft Defender Antivirus includes a feature known as “periodic scanning” that periodically scans and removes threats that other antivirus software may have missed, and in this guide, you’ll learn the steps to enable it.

Although Windows 11 has a robust antivirus to scan, detect, and remove malware from your computer, many users prefer different solutions, such as Symantec’s Norton Antivirus, AVG, Avira, BitDefender, and McAfee. However, since no single program can guarantee one hundred percent protection, Microsoft Defender Antivirus provides the periodic scanning feature to add a second line of defense.

When you enable periodic scanning, Microsoft Defender will remain disabled, but it’ll periodically scan for threats that your current solution may not be able to detect.

This guide will teach you the steps to enable periodic scanning on Windows 11.

Enable periodic scanning on Windows 11

To enable periodic scanning on Microsoft Defender Antivirus for Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Windows Security on Windows 11.

  2. Click on Virus & threat protection.

  3. Click the “Microsoft Defender Antivirus options” setting.

  4. Turn on the “Periodic scanning” toggle switch.

    Configure periodic scanning

Once you complete the steps, the Windows 11 antivirus will use the “Automatic Maintenance” feature to run the scans at optimal times to minimize the impact on performance and battery life.

Disable periodic scanning on Windows 11

To disable Defender Antivirus periodic scanning on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Windows Security.

  2. Click on Virus & threat protection.

  3. Click the “Microsoft Defender Antivirus options” setting.

  4. Turn off the Periodic scanning toggle switch.

    Configure periodic scanning

After you complete the steps, Microsoft Defender Antivirus will not scan your computer periodically for malware when a third-party solution is on the device.

Microsoft Defender Antivirus periodic scanning only adds an extra layer of security to make Windows 11 more secure. It does not provide real-time protection when another antivirus solution is already installed on the device.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me. Email him at [email protected].