Why is Windows Defender deleting Program Files on Windows 10?

November 11, 2020 |

greater than 5 minutes

The Windows operating system comes with a free built-in security solution called Windows Defender. It’s a reliable anti-malware tool that provides protection against ransomware, spyware and other types of malware. Plus, it doesn’t interfere with the normal functioning of other apps installed on your system. Admittedly, Windows Defender is a useful anti-malware program that may provide sufficient protection for an ordinary Windows user.

That said, sometimes the app makes mistakes. So, what if Windows Defender is deleting program files in Windows 10 without your permission? In today’s Windows 10 tutorial, we discuss the various methods that you can use to prevent this from happening and how to add files to the Windows Defender exclusion list.

How to Stop Windows Defender from Deleting Program Files on Windows 10

It’s not usual for Windows Defender to delete important files like documents, pictures, videos, audio files, and even .exe programs. This could lead to the loss of valuable data, which might cost you your client or lead to financial losses. For this reason, you should find out why the built-in security app is behaving this way and how to stop it.

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Method 1: Disable Storage Sense

One factor that can cause Windows Defender to keep deleting files from your computer without confirmation is Storage Sense. This Windows feature helps to free up disk space by deleting files that have been inactive for a while. It also deletes cloud-backed content from your Windows device except that marked as “Always keep on this device”. When turned on, this feature automatically cleans your computer, including the Recycle Bin and items in the Downloads folder, when you’re running low on disk space.

This feature is located in Settings > System > Storage, where you can configure it according to your preferences. To stop Windows from deleting program files automatically, you need to disable Storage Sense. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the “Settings” app using the Win + I shortcut.
  2. Go to System > Storage.
  3. Check if “Storage Sense” is enabled. If it is, click the toggle button to disable it.
  4. Click the “Configure Storage Sense or run it now” link and check if any options are enabled. If they are, turn them off to prevent the automatic deletion of files on your drives, including temporary files and those stored in the cloud. For instance, under “Temporary Files”, uncheck the option that says “Delete temporary files that my apps aren’t using”. This prevents Windows Defender from deleting files in your Recycle Bin regardless of how long they have been there.

Method 2: Uninstall Faulty Windows Updates

As you are aware, Microsoft delivers occasional updates to Windows 10 to improve certain features and boost the security of your system. However, it’s not uncommon that some of these updates can cause issues like system instability, PC lag, errors, and even the loss of data. This is especially true if the new updates are incompatible with your operating system or the update files are corrupt.

In such a scenario, the best approach is to uninstall the faulty Windows updates that could be responsible for deleting files on your Windows 10 PC. You can achieve this via the traditional Control Panel or by using the “Settings” app.

To use the Control Panel, follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows logo on your keyboard, type in “Control Panel” (without quotes) and press “Enter”.
  2. Once the “Control Panel” window appears, select “Programs” and click the “View installed updates” link.
  3. On the next screen, you’ll see a list of all the currently installed updates along with their dates of installation. If you have an idea as to when Windows Defender started to automatically delete program files, go to the “Installed On” column and click the dropdown arrow.
  4. Next, choose the date that you suspect the faulty updates were installed. If you’re not sure about the exact date, you can check one of the boxes below the calendar to narrow down your search:
  • A long time ago
  • Earlier this year
  • Last month
  1. Once you find the update that you’re looking for, right-click on it and select “Uninstall”.
  2. Restart your PC when the process is complete.

If you prefer to use the “Settings” app, here’s the process:

  1. Press the Windows Key + I shortcut to launch the “Settings” app.
  2. Open “Update & Security” and select the “View update history” link on the right pane.
  3. From there, click “Uninstall updates” and follow steps 3 to 5 above.

Once you’re done uninstalling the faulty updates, you can try installing the latest Windows updates again. Here’s how to update Windows 10:

  1. Press the Windows logo key on your keyboard, type in “Updates” (without quotes), and select “Check for updates”.
  2. If updates are pending, they will be displayed on the screen that appears next. Click the “Download and install” link to initiate the update process. To check if updates are available, click the “Check for updates” button. Windows will search for the latest updates and automatically download and install them on your computer.

Method 3: Create a Windows Defender Exclusion

The above methods will prevent Windows Defender from deleting program files on your Windows 10 device. However, if you’re still skeptical and you don’t want to wait and see if the solutions worked, here’s the next best thing you can do – create a Windows Defender exclusion. This involves adding a list of items that you don’t want to be scanned to the exclusion list in Windows Defender.

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To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows key on your keyboard and click the gear icon to launch the “Settings” app.
  2. Open Update & Security > Windows Security and select “Virus & threat protection”.
  3. Select the “Manage settings” link under “Virus & threat protection settings”.
  4. Go to the “Exclusions” section and select the “Add or remove exclusions” option.
  5. Click the + icon (Add an exclusion) and select one of the following options:
  • File
  • Folder
  • File Type
  • Process
  1. Next, specify the items that you want to be excluded from the scans. The files you select won’t be scanned or deleted by Windows Defender.

Method 4: Disable Windows Defender Temporarily

You can also temporarily disable Windows Defender to stop it from accidentally deleting your program files. However, this is not a permanent solution since Windows Defender automatically turns on the Real-time protection feature after a while. Plus, it’s not safe to run your computer with no security solution as this puts your entire system and data at risk of malware attacks.

To disable Windows Defender, follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows logo on your keyboard, type in “Windows Security” (without quotes) and select “Virus & threat protection” on the right pane.
  2. Open the “Manage settings” link under the “Virus & threat protection” section and click the toggle button under “Real-time protection” to turn it off.

Remember, this option protects your PC against malware intrusion. Therefore, it’s not safe to turn it off.

How to Keep Your Files Protected

While Windows Defender can protect your machine from malicious entities, most types of malware are designed to evade detection. That’s where a powerful security solution like Auslogics Anti-Malware comes in. Its aggressive nature makes it difficult even for the most elusive malware to stay hidden in your system or infiltrate it in the first place. Once installed, Auslogics Anti-Malware scans every section of your system to identify and remove any suspicious items. It quarantines them to allow you to restore them or remove them from your device. This malware removal tool also offers real-time protection to ensure that your system is protected continually.

In addition to that, the program allows you to add files or folders to the “Ignore List” so they will be excluded from future scans. You’ll find the “Scheduler” feature useful as it allows you to schedule automatic scans, thus providing protection 24/7. To ensure maximum security, the tool receives regular updates to keep the malware database up to date. This means that the security program is capable of detecting even the newest malware as soon as it starts infecting Windows machines.

That’s how to stop Windows Defender from deleting program files on Windows 10. If you have additional information, please share it with our community by dropping your comments below.

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