Set Windows Defender Antivirus blocking to high on Windows 10

Martin Brinkmann
May 26, 2017
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

Windows Defender Antivirus is the default security solution that ships with all versions of the Windows 10 operating system.

It offers basic protection when compared to third-party solutions, but the overall protection that it offers has improved and the product does not test at the very bottom of every AV Comparatives or AV Test runs anymore.

The product supports the detection of all kinds of malware, including trojans and viruses, rootkits, spyware, and other forms that may attack Windows machines.

One new feature that Microsoft introduced in the Windows 10 Creators Update was the new Windows Defender Security Center. It is a central hub for security related settings.

windows defender security center

Along with it came an under the hood change that is not enabled by default: the ability to increase the blocking level of Windows Defender Antivirus to high for extra protection against threats.

Note: The following procedure enables cloud-delivered protection in Windows Defender Antivirus. The feature is only available in Windows 10 version 1703 (and newer), and manageable through various interfaces including Group Policy, Registry, System Center Configuration Manager, or Microsoft Intune.

The main benefit that enabling cloud-delivered protection brings to the table is that it may detect and block new malware, even if no signatures are available yet.

The core difference to Microsoft Advanced Protection Service, the previous incarnation of cloud-protection service available for Windows 10 version 1607 and Windows 8.1, is that you can configure the cloud block timeout period, and that block at first sight is supported (also on 1607 but not on Windows 8.1).

Enable Cloud-Delivered Protection for Windows Defender Antivirus using Group Policy

windows defender antivirus maps

You can use the following method to enable the protective feature if you run a professional or Enterprise version of Windows 10 (Creators Update or up).

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type gpedit.msc, and hit the Enter-key on the keyboard.
  2. Use the hierarchy on the left to navigate to the following folder: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Defender Antivirus > MAPS
  3. Double-click on Join Microsoft MAPS.
  4. Switch the status from "not configured" to "enabled.
  5. Select "Advanced MAPS" under "Join Microsoft MAPS" under options on the same page.

Basic membership is not really an option anymore, as Microsoft has deprecated it under Windows 10. If you select basic membership, you are automatically enrolled in the advanced membership instead.

Basic membership will send basic information to Microsoft about software that has been detected, including where the software came from, the actions that you apply or that are applied automatically, and whether the actions were successful.

Advanced membership, in addition to basic information, will send more information to Microsoft about malicious software, spyware, and potentially unwanted software, including the location of the software, file names, how the software operates, and how it has impacted your computer.

Note that both will send data to Microsoft.

The MAPS folder includes three additional policies that you may want to configure:

  • Configure the "Block at First Sight" feature -- This can be used to turn the "Block at first Sight" feature on or off. If enabled, checks are performed in real time with the Microsoft Active Protection Service before content is allowed to run or accessed on the device.
  • Configure local setting override for reporting to Microsoft -- Allows you to configure local overrides. Local preference setting take precedence over Group Policy if enabled.
  • Send file samples when further analysis is required -- Define if and when file samples are transferred to Microsoft. You can set it to "always prompt", "send safe samples automatically", "never send" or "send all samples automatically. Note that you need to select one of the two auto-send options if you enable the "configure the block at first sight feature.

Change the cloud-protection level of Windows Defender Antivirus

high blocking level

Now that you have joined MAPS on the device, you may set the higher protection level.

  1. Navigate to the following path in the Group Policy Editor: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Defender Antivirus > MpEngine
  2. Double-click on "select cloud protection level".
  3. Set the status of the feature to enabled, and switch from "default Windows Defender Antivirus blocking level" to "High blocking level" under options.

Microsoft has this to say about the differences between the two blocking levels:

Setting to Default Windows Defender Antivirus blocking level will provide strong detection without increasing the risk of detecting legitimate files.

Setting to High blocking level will apply a strong level of detection. While unlikely, some legitimate files may be detected (although you will have the option to unblock or dispute that detection).

Setting this on Windows 10 Home devices using the Registry

microsoft spynet

Windows 10 Home devices ship without Group Policy support. You can make the necessary changes using the Windows Registry however.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type regedit.exe, and hit the Enter-key on the keyboard.
  2. Confirm the UAC prompt. This opens the Windows Registry Editor.
  3. Use the key hierarchy on the left to open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender.
  4. Right-click on Windows Defender, and select New > Key.
  5. Name the key Spynet.
  6. Right-click on Spynet, and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  7. Name the value SpynetReporting.
  8. Double-click on the new value to set its value to 2.
  9. Go back to the path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender
  10. Right-click on Windows Defender, and select New > Key.
  11. Name the key MpEngine.
  12. Right-click on the newly created MpEngine key, and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  13. Name the new value MpCloudBlockLevel.
  14. Double-click on the value to set it to 2.

Opt out again

You can opt-out again by deleting the Registry keys, and/or by setting the policies in the Group Policy Editor to disabled or not configured.

Closing Words

Adding extra protection may sound like a nice idea, and it probably is. Some users may not want to enable this however for two core reasons. First, because it enables more data sending to Microsoft (including file samples if configured this way), and second, because it may increase the number of false positives as well. (via Deskmodder / Windows Central)

Now You: Which antivirus solution do you use on Windows?

Set Windows Defender Antivirus blocking to high on Windows 10
Article Name
Set Windows Defender Antivirus blocking to high on Windows 10
The guide walks you through the steps of enabling extra protection for Windows Defender Antivirus by setting a higher cloud-protection level.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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