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Many setup programs ask you to temporarily disable anti-virus tools. I'll show the setting in Microsoft Security Essentials and discuss if you need to.

Leo, I have Microsoft Security Essentials. I want to install software that requires that I temporarily turn off my anti-virus while installing. How do I do this?

It's not uncommon for setup or installation programs to suggestion that you turn off your anti-malware scanning tools so that the installation can proceed with as few hiccups as possible.

The problem they're trying to avoid are unnecessary "false positives" - reports of malware activity when there is in fact none - as well as occasional outright failures when anti-malware software interferes with the setup process.

I'll show you how to do that in Microsoft Security Essentials, but first, I'll discuss whether it's really necessary.

Do you really need to turn off anti-malware tools?

I'll be honest: I ignore these requests.

I rarely turn off my anti-malware tools when running a setup program, even if that program suggests that I do so.

I've never run into a problem.

Oh, and by the way, I run Microsoft Security Essentials.

So there's a good chance that simply doing nothing and proceeding with your installation will simply work.

If it probably works, why do they ask?

Because it might not.

And they don't want to deal with the blame and the support issues if that's the case.

In my opinion, many software manufacturers are simply covering their behinds - because it might happen, they don't want to have to deal with a setup problem that might be caused by anti-malware tools.

And to be honest, I can't blame them.

Just because Microsoft Security Essentials doesn't cause program X's setup a problem doesn't mean that some other anti-malware software won't. And just because program X doesn't experience a problem doesn't mean that program Y won't.

Thus, it's safer to simply suggest that you disable your anti-malware tool until the setup completes.

My approach has been to assume everything works until it doesn't and then deal with it if that happens.

So far, it hasn't.

Disabling Microsoft Security Essentials

What the software vendors are asking is that you disable any real time scanning. You certainly don't have to uninstall the anti-malware tools, just make sure that it's not trying to keep track of things as they happen.

Open MSE by right-clicking the icon in the notification area and clicking Open.

Click the Settings tab, and then click the "Real-time protection" item in the left pane.

Microsoft Security Essentials, Settings highlighting the real time protection option

Uncheck the option "Turn on real-time protection (recommended)", and click Save changes. (You may need to confirm a UAC prompt.)

Run the setup that started all of this.

When the setup completes, check the real-time protection option again and click Save changes once more.

That's all there is to it.

Other anti-malware tools

I obviously can't detail all of the different settings for all possible anti-malware tools, but hopefully the example above will help identify the corresponding setting in whatever anti-malware tool you might be using.

Just remember that it's the so-called "real time", often called "active", scanning that the tools perform that might conflict with an installation.

Article C5096 - March 3, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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12 Comments
Karl
March 4, 2012 9:53 AM

I don't bother with turning off my anti-virus when installing programs on my computer. I have never had a problem and i use MSE.

On the rare occasion that a problem does arise, i will stop, clear my cache, reboot my computer, turn off my anti-virus, then installing the program, it's just that easy to solve.

Bob
March 6, 2012 7:41 AM

I run MSE, and I never turn it off when I'm installing stuff. Why? Because, if I was writing malware, that would be EXACTLY what I'd ask the "user" to do as the first step.
I usually disconnect from the internet too, unless I know the program needs to download during the installation.
I haven't had any issues so far (apart from learning which programs actually install, and which simply download themselves from the net).

Bob
March 6, 2012 8:12 AM

I do sometimes follow the advice to disable anti-virus/malware programs while installing software.
One thing I don't see recommended here though is to disconnect from the internet during the time anti-virus/malware programs are disabled. If you're not connected to the internet, you're safe as long as the program you're installing is from a reputable source.
After the install is complete, I reboot my machine and verify that my anti-virus/malware program(s) are indeed running before reconnecting to the internet.

Norman Hall
March 6, 2012 8:27 AM

HP printer's scan etc. software will NOT install properly unless MSE is disabled. A rare, but significant exception to the above comments.

Me
March 6, 2012 8:44 AM

I'm not sure if it's just me, but it always seems a little ... dodgy when programs say "disable your a/v."

I have had an issue or two with false positives, though. I know lots of programs made with a certain toolkit (I don't remember the name, sorry) have issues with certain antiviruses. And one time my antivirus somehow thought that a DLL in my media player was a virus and left me wondering why it kept crashing. Then I figured it out and added it to the exception list and a few updates later it was fixed.

Simon Willis
March 6, 2012 8:54 AM

I have MSE and always disabled it when installing - not liking to do so, and its time consuming! Now I won't, so thanks Leo for this article; and also a couple of commenters about disconnecting while installing - thank you too.

Chuck
March 6, 2012 9:34 AM

I will confirm what Norman Hall wrote, while agreeing with Leo (always try the install first): I have had HP printers (including MFCs, Photosmarts, and Deskjet printers) that failed to install properly without disabling the AV. Not all of them, but quite a few. I always try first, but if it fails, I know why, and go back and redo it with the AV temporarily disabled. I may have seen it once or twice with Epson or Canon printers as well, but -- so far -- it has been only printers that I have seen this happen with. And, by the way, not just with MSE, but AVG, Norton, and other AVs also.

Terry Hollett
March 7, 2012 4:27 AM

I use Avira and in this case it would be a matter of right-clicking on the icon (by the clock) and unchecking "Realtime Protection Enable". But I've never disabled my anti-virus at the request of an installer.

Bill Landau
April 26, 2012 5:39 PM

When you disable real time scanning in both Norton Internet Security and McAfee, they offer you options for how long - 15 minutes, 30 minutes, until next reboot, permanently. This way you can select 15 minutes - enough time for the install - without worrying that you will forget to re-enable it.

John
May 7, 2012 9:57 AM

Great article - at your convenience can you upgrade the screen shot to reflect the MSE V4 interface?

Jay
June 8, 2012 10:22 PM

Generally good advice here. I've always taken the same approach, and not bothered disabling, figuring installs almost always work anyway.
I just hit my first exception today - the smartphone sync application for the HTC Desire really does fail to work if WSE real-time scaning is enabled during install.

Jacob
September 18, 2012 6:34 PM

I am Sorry to inform you, but i tried this when trying to update Starcraft II and it didnt work. Anything that could help on that?

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