Limited Periodic Scanning feature in Windows Defender on Windows 10

Limited Periodic Scanning in Windows Defender is a new feature addition made available in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Windows 10 is the most secure operating system Microsoft has ever shipped and it continues to make it better and more secure. Starting with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update available later this year, Windows 10 will have a new security setting called Limited Periodic Scanning.

windows defender periodic scanning

Limited Periodic Scanning in Windows Defender

This new feature, Limited Periodic Scanning improves system security by using Windows 10 built-in Windows Defender as an additional scanner if you have installed any third-party antivirus. This feature is offered only when you have installed a 3rd-party antivirus software and Windows Defender is disabled.

These periodic scans will utilize Automatic Maintenance – to ensure the system chooses optimal times based on minimal impact to the user, PC performance, and energy efficiency – or customers can schedule these scans. Limited Periodic Scanning is intended to offer an additional line of defense to your existing antivirus program’s real-time protection, says Microsoft.

With this feature of Limited Periodic Scanning, one can configure Windows Defender to scan the system periodically even when other third-party antivirus software is installed and will provide an additional Malware protection. So Microsoft is making malware detection and protection seamless and easier, even if the customer chooses to use a third-party antivirus.

By default, Limited Periodic Scanning is not enabled. When enabled, Windows 10 will use the built-in Windows Defender scanning engine to periodically scan the PC for threats and remediate them. These Periodic scans will make use of Automatic Maintenance thus ensuring the system chooses optimal times based on minimal impact to the user and PC performance. Customers can also schedule these scans. Limited Periodic Scanning offers an additional line of defense to the existing antivirus program.

Enable Limited Periodic Scanning

Limited Periodic Scanning becomes available when you have installed and are running any third-party antivirus solution. It is not enabled by default. So if you are not using the built-in Windows Defender as your antivirus program on Windows 10, one can enable Limited Periodic Scanning under Settings:

  • Settings > Update & Security > Windows Defender
  • Turn Limited Periodic Scanning On Limited Periodic Scanning

When this feature is turned ON and when you are not using Windows Defender for real-time protection, the Windows Defender UI and History tab will show any additional threats that have been detected. Clicking on the notification will open Windows Defender where you can further review the threat that was found and the action that was automatically taken.


Clicking on the History tab will show you the history:


In most cases, Windows Defender will also automatically take action on the threat.

av scan

If you are already using Windows Defender as your antivirus program on Windows 10, then you want to ensure that this feature is enabled.

At this time, Windows 10 Limited Periodic Scanning is intended for consumers. Later on, this feature will be evaluated for commercial customers too. Limited Periodic Scanning only applies to unmanaged devices for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

Posted by on , in Category Security with Tags
The author has been a Microsoft MVP awardee in various Windows categories (2006-2016) and currently a Windows Insider MVP. A Technology Enthusiast, interested in anything technical and is committed to Microsoft technologies and products. He is actively associated with various Microsoft online communities, forums, Newsgroups and has been actively involved in Beta testing various Microsoft products and bug submissions.


  1. Mac Pelao

    This is garbage.. i upgraded to the latest version of Win 10 and now I can’t disable Limited Periodic Scanning…. WHY MICROSOFT???.. WHY? – – I don’t want Limited Periodic Scanning at all… give us back the option to disable it without having to install a third party antivirus.

  2. Dani

    Switch it on/off wíth this command
    “C:windowssystem32SystemSettingsAdminFlows.exe” Defender SideBySideOff
    “C:windowssystem32SystemSettingsAdminFlows.exe” Defender SideBySideOn

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