How to manually update Microsoft Defender

It’s imperative to keep Microsoft Defender up to date even when Windows Update isn’t working. Here are several methods to manually update Defender.

virtual update button hovers over a keyboard
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Microsoft Defender is the built-in anti-malware package that’s included with modern Windows operating systems. It’s alternatively known as Windows Security (it shows up under Settings as Windows Security) or Windows Defender (sometimes with Antivirus at the end of the name, as in this Microsoft Docs page). But whatever you want to call it, for many Windows users, this tool is the go-to default for handling security on their PCs.

As with Windows Update in general, sometimes Microsoft Defender updates may not work. Normally, Defender updates are handled as part of routine Windows update behavior, run on a daily basis as a scheduled task. But sometimes, Windows Update itself runs into problems and doesn’t do much (or anything).

Should this happen, there are other ways to keep Defender updated, sidestepping any issues strictly related to Windows Update itself. (See the note at end of story for more advice on this topic.)

1. Use Microsoft Defender’s own update facility

Within the Settings app, you can access a Windows Security facility with this selection sequence: Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security in Windows 10 or Start > Settings > Privacy & Security > Windows Security in Windows 11. There you’ll find a button labeled “Open Windows Security” as shown in Figure 1. Alternatively, you can open the app directly by typing “Windows Security” into the Start menu.

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