How-to: Force Windows Defender Updates

Force Windows Defender UpdatesIt’s a problem I hadn’t encountered in Windows 7 (but I discovered it exists there, too), but in Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Windows Defender updates of anti-virus and malware definitions suddenly failed, repeatedly, and with a baffling Internet connection slash networking error.

Needless to say the connection is fine for everything else and a several re-boots didn’t fix it. A default run of the networking troubleshooter did not detect any problems. This looks like a Defender issue, and as I researched it, sometimes occurs with the main Windows Update process itself.

Rather than hunt down the culprit, I effected a work around…

For the Defender problem;

  • Open the Task Manager (ctrl + shift + esc)
  • Click “More details” (bottom left)
  • Under “Windows processes”, select “Antimalware Service Executable”. This is actually just the is just the description of the process named “MsMpEng.exe.”
  • Click “End task” (button bottom right)
  • By ending the MsMpEng.exe, you can’t now use the Windows Defender update option to update just Windows Defender, you will need to run the master Windows Update process – through the “check for updates” via Windows Update in the Action Center (or Control Panel\System then Security\Windows Update).

Going this route will update everything in the queue, so if you are holding off certain updates for Windows – not just Defender – you will need to trawl the tick-boxes to select what to apply.

When you next restart Windows, the Anti-malware Service Executable is restarted as a resident background task.

I discovered the basics for this workaround under the Windows 8 pages of Microsoft’s support forums.

It is important to remember that you can selectively update components in Windows 7 and 8 and it is worth taking a look down the list, either to save downloads or to save time and productivity. Just because an update becomes available, that doesn’t mean you have to take it there and then; but in the case of security updates, you may well want those as priority updates over everything else. That’s why, if you’re using Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials, you’ll want to keep those up to date. AJS

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About Allan J. Smithie
Allan J. Smithie is a journalist and commentator based in Dubai.

2 Responses to How-to: Force Windows Defender Updates

  1. Kleiner Thammavongsa says:

    I need to spend some time studying much more or understanding more. Thank you I was on the lookout for this info.

  2. Berkson Leigh says:

    Thank you for the good writeup. Looks complicated until you read the description.

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