Security | Vulnerability Scans and Assessment Windows

Enable Microsoft Defender SmartScreen: How to prevent Exe files from getting deleted randomly in Windows 10, and 11

Microsoft Defender SmartScreen

SmartScreen is a feature in Windows 10 and 11 that helps protect your computer from downloading viruses and harmful websites. SmartScreen is essentially another layer of security on top of Windows Defender, which is implemented on your PC by the Antimalware Service Executable process. Having a security system with many levels helps keep your PC safe, even if you use another antivirus application and a web browser with anti-malware functions.

This service is also included in Microsoft Edge and Store applications to filter harmful online content. However, the operating system’s SmartScreen function protects you regardless of the program you use to download files. It helps whether you use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox as your browser or download the files with another program.

Here are other related guides you should see: Smart App Control and how to enable Phishing Protection: Windows 11 New Security Features, New Windows 11 encryption features and security enhancements will help protect hybrid work, How to find and remove Malware with Microsoft Defender Offline, How to restore quarantined files in Microsoft Defender Antivirus, and How to turn on Windows 10 Tamper Protection for Microsoft Defender.

Why does Windows delete EXE Files?

The majority of viruses and malware are distributed via executable files. The SmartScreen filter examines every application or file you download against a Microsoft database. SmartScreen will allow the file to execute if it has been seen previously and is known to be safe. However, SmartScreen will block the file or program from downloading if it has been encountered previously and is known to be harmful malware. If it hasn’t been seen before and Windows is unsure if it’s safe, it prevents the app from launching and warns you that it may be hazardous but allows you to dismiss this warning.

In this article we look at how to enable or disable the Windows SmartScreen features and how to prevent .exe files or programs from getting blocked or removed randomly.

Should You Disable SmartScreen?

The SmartScreen process cannot be completely disabled. Even if you disable the SmartScreen functionality in Windows, the SmartScreen process still runs when you log in. It does not, however, utilize any CPU resources and just a few megabytes of memory. You can terminate this process from the Task Manager, but Windows just restarts it when it is required.

By removing the SmartScreen functionality, you can prevent the SmartScreen process from using CPU and memory resources in the background.

However, we do not recommend deactivating this important security feature. SmartScreen is a handy security tool that can aid in the protection of your computer against malware. Even if you have additional protection software installed, SmartScreen can protect you from threats that your primary security software may overlook. In any case, it merely consumes a little bit of system resources.

How to Enable/Disable Windows SmartScreen Via Settings

Follow the steps listed below to enable or disable SmartScreen on your Windows 10 or 11 devices.

Press the Windows button or click the Start icon to open the Start Menu and click on Settings.

Windows Start menu

From the Settings menu, click on Privacy and Security and then select Windows Security on the right pane.

Privacy & Security

From the Windows Security options, click on App & Browser Control. This will launch the native Microsoft antivirus app called Windows Security.  

App & browser control

From here, click on the Reputation-based protection settings link.

Reputation-based protection

The SmartScreen settings are turned on by default.

SmartScreen for Microsoft Edge

To disable the SmartScreen setting, turn off “Check for apps and files” for what you want. Click on “Yes” when prompted by UAC to approve.

How to Enable/Disable Windows SmartScreen Using the Group Policy Editor

Press Windows key + R key to open the Run dialog box and enter gpedit.msc to open the Local Group Policy Editor.

Run dialog box

Navigate to the following path in the left pane of the Local Group Policy Editor.

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer

In the right pane of File Explorer in the Local Group Policy Editor, double click or tap on the Configure Windows Defender SmartScreen policy to edit it.

Local Group Policy Editor

To enable SmartScreen to block apps and files from the web, select Enabled, select Warn and prevent bypass in the Options drop menu, click on OK, then close the group policy editor.

Enabling Windows Defender SmartScreen

To enable SmartScreen to warn for apps and files from the web, select Enabled, select Warn in the Options drop menu, click on OK, then close the group policy editor.

Enabling Windows Defender SmartScreen

To disable SmartScreen Check Apps and Files from the Web, select disabled, click or tap on OK, then close the group policy editor.

Disabling Windows Defender SmartScreen

Steps to prevent .Exe files or programs from getting blocked or removed

1. Check Browser Settings

Most browsers have a built-in security feature that prevents new or reported EXE files and installers. Additionally, files that are not often downloaded will be blocked. The good news is that the browser allows you to download it with permission. Check the browser’s download menu; you should be able to unblock it there. So, if you’ve been wondering what happened to the EXE file you were attempting to download, this is your answer.

If you wish to deactivate this, go to your browser’s settings.

Edge browser settings

Click on Privacy, search, and services on the left pane and uncheck the “Block potentially unwanted apps”.

Edge browser settings

If you are certain about what you download, turning them off will ensure that no files are blocked by the browser.

2. Check Quarantine Section

If you are certain that the software you downloaded or that was previously running is safe, go to the quarantine area. This secure location is available in all antivirus software for moving and blocking files. This safeguard guarantees that malicious software never compromises the computer’s data. See this detailed guide on how to restore files from quarantine. How to restore quarantined files in Microsoft Defender Antivirus.

Your PC’s security software will allow you to restore the program from quarantine to the precise area where it was found. As a result, it will either start automatically or be ready for you to install further.

3. Exclude Files/Program from AntiVirus

Another solution is to add the program to an exception list. You should only do it if you are confident that it will be safe. Once added to the exclusion list, the security program will run without restriction. See this detailed guide on how to restore files from quarantine. How to restore quarantined files in Microsoft Defender Antivirus.

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