Windows Defender, integrated into Windows 10, runs in the background and scans files for malware. To enhance performance for tasks such as compiling code or running virtual machines, you can add exclusions and those files will never be scanned by Windows Defender.
Warning: Be careful about what you exclude. Windows Defender will not scan excluded files and folders for malware.
How to add exclusions for Windows Defender in Windows 10
First, you need to launch Windows Security to change some settings. Open the Start menu and enter Windows Security. Then, you select the Windows Security application.
In Windows Security, navigate to Virus & Threat Protection. After that, click Manage Settings.
In Virus & Threat Protection Settings, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Add or Remove Exclusions.
On the Exclusions page, you can add or delete files that you want to exclude from the Windows Defender scan. To add an exclusion, click the Add An Exclusion button next to (+) – the large plus symbol.
A small menu will appear allowing you to specify exclusions by File, Folder, File type, or Process (file, folder, file type, or process).
What you choose depends on the type of exception you are trying to make. Here is what each option will do.
- File: If you select this item, a box will appear allowing you to browse the computer to select a file to be excluded from future scans. Select the file you want, then click Open.
- Folder: Similar to the File option, this will allow the computer to search for a specific folder and exclude it from the scan. Content and subfolders in this directory will also be excluded.
- File type: A box will appear asking you to enter the file extension (eg .MID) representing the file type that you can exclude. All files of that type will be excluded from future scans. This is very dangerous because you can accidentally exclude a large group of potentially malicious files, such as PDFs or DOCs.
- Process: A window will appear asking you to enter the name of a process (a running program, such as explorer.exe) to exclude from the scan. If a program you know is safe keep getting flagged by Defender, you can enter it here.
Choose one of these options and make the necessary selections in the following pop-up dialog box. When you add an exclusion, it will display in a list on the Exclusions page.
If you want to delete a specified exclusion, move the mouse pointer over the item until the downward-pointing caret arrow appears, then click the Remove button.
Once you have all done, close Windows Security, and your settings will be saved. The next time the system performs a Defender scan, the items you have added to the exclusion list will no longer cause any trouble.