How To Configure Windows Defender Antivirus to Scan Removable Drives

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Windows Defender Antivirus cannot remove malware from external removable hard drives by default during a full scan. Here’s how to enable it manually.

Imagine this scenario: you run a full scan on your computer using the Windows Defender Antivirus program and sit back completely reassured that all malware/viruses have vanished from your computer and connected external drives. Wait a minute—you’re not done yet. Read on.

Windows Defender Antivirus cannot review the removable drives in the system by default. Normally, USB drives and SD cards are capable of scanning a removable drive.

However, it is possible to configure the Windows Defender Antivirus program so that it can complete the scanning process for a removable drive by default or automatically.

Malware Attacks

Windows Defender Antivirus can protect your desktop against viruses and other malware or any other software that is malicious. Malware can target PCs even without the user’s knowledge. A virus can enter your computer through an email that you open or even through your internet connection.

Some viruses enter the system through installed apps, CDs, DVDs and other such media that can be removed from the computer. This type of malware can also be programmed in such a manner that they will run on the computer at any time, rather than when they are just installed.

Windows Defender Antivirus Scanning Set up

To protect yourself, you can create group policies that enable the Windows Defender Antivirus program to review viruses and other malware present in the content of drives that are removable. These are the types of malware that are present in USB flash drives and on setting up such a policy, the Windows Defender program runs a complete scanning process.

You can also review removable drives with a custom scanning process or by using a quick scan. Remember that the default setting on the Windows Defender Antivirus program is always Not Configured.

Configure Scanning for Removable Drive

Here are the steps for configuring the built-in Windows Defender Antivirus program for Windows 10, so that it can complete the scanning process for a removable drive by default.

There are basically three options that you can follow to do this:

Step 1. Enable/Disable Windows Defender Antivirus for full scanning of removable drives using PowerShell.

  1. Firstly, you have to open up the elevated PowerShell. To do this, type “powershell” on the taskbar and search.
    • Right click on the Windows PowerShell option and opt for running as Administrator.
    • When the prompt opens, the elevated PowerShell displays Admin. Another option is to open Task Manager and go to the File menu, then opt to Run new tasks.
    • Just type the word “powershell” and opt for Create task with admin privileges, and an elevated PowerShell is opened.
  2. Enter this command: Set-MpPreference-DisableRemovableDriveScanning 0 for enabling scanning of removable drives
  3. Close Powershell after you have finished.

Step 2. Enable/Disable Windows Defender Antivirus for full scanning of removable drives using Group Policy.

Note that only those running Windows 10 on their computers can use this option. It is also available for both the Education and Enterprise editions.

  1. Access the Local Group Policy Editor.
    • You can do this using Run or Search.
    • Other options are accessing the Local Group Policy Editor using Search or Start Menu, or even using Command Prompt or the Windows PowerShell.
    • For instance, you can right click on the bottom left corner of the PC and access Quick Access Menu. Then open Run. Type out gpedit.msc, then click on OK.
    • Alternatively, go to Search and enter Group Policy Editor.
  2. Once you have accessed the Local Group Policy Editor for your Windows 10 program, check out the left pane of the window.
  3. Navigate to Computer Configuration, then next to Administrative Templates. From here, access Windows Components and then Windows Defender. Here, select Scan.
  4. Check out the right pane for Scan and click on Scan removable Drives in order to enable it.
  5. Select Enabled and click on OK.
  6. After you have finished, you can end the Local Group Policy Editor program by closing it.

Step 3. Enable/Disable Windows Defender Antivirus for full scanning of removable drives using the REG file.

In case you are using the Windows 10 Home software, but you’re not able to access the Group Policy, you can enable the scanning of removable drives by making use of the Registry option.

However, you must know that making edits to the Registry has its risks. You have to do this correctly, or else it could damage the installation.

  • Open up the Run panel using Windows Key and R (keyboard shortcuts).
  • Find regedit. Click on OK in order to open up the Registry settings.
  • Browse the path:

HKEY-LOCAL-MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Policies/Microsoft/Windows Defender.

  • With the use of the Creators update for Windows 10, you can also copy and paste the path to the address bar of the Registry and move to the destination.
  • Find the Windows Defender key, then choose New and then click on the Key.
  • Give the name of Scan to the Key and then hit Enter.
  • In the right pane of the window, choose New. Click on the DWORD 32bit, Value.
  • Give a name to the key: DisableRemovableDriveScanning.
  • Check out the value of the new DWORD. It should be zero.

Now, the Windows Defender Antivirus will be able to review any removable drive as well, if you have connected it to the computer during a full scan.

Last Word

Windows Defender Security Center
Windows Defender Antivirus program can automatically scan your computer, you need to conduct full scans periodically in order to check for the presence of malware on your computer.

Though the Windows Defender Antivirus program can automatically scan your computer, you need to conduct full scans periodically in order to check for the presence of malware on your computer.

A full scanning review does not mean that the Windows Defender program will automatically check all the storage devices that are connected with your computer, such as a USB drive.

Windows Defender Antivirus cannot review an external drive with a full scan, but only when you apply a custom scan or a quick scan. If you want all storage devices that are connected to your PC to be checked out during a full review, you have to do the configuration and enable it manually on your computer.

However, remember that in order to do this, you must be signed in as the admin in order to either enable or to disable the scanning of removable drives with a full scan using Windows Defender Antivirus. It is also recommended that you completely back up your desktop prior to proceeding to any of these steps.

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