Make Windows Defender Antivirus scan external drives for malware

Windows Defender Antivirus doesn’t scan removable drives during full scans by default, but there are ways to enable the functionality.

Although Windows Defender Antivirus runs automatically on your Windows 10 device, there are still times when you’ll need to perform a full scan to make sure that malware or malicious software is not impacting your device.

However, if you thought a “full scan” meant that the antivirus would check every storage device connected to your pc, think again. As it turns out, by default, Windows Defender Antivirus does not scan external drives during a full scan — only during quick and custom scans.

If you want to make sure that every storage device attached to your pc gets scanned for unwanted software and malware, it’s possible but it’s something that you need to configure manually.
Here’s how:
METHOD 1 – Using Group Policy Editor
1. Press Windows logo key + R to open the Run dialog.
2. In its window, type gpedit.msc and click OK to open Local Group Policy Editor
3. Browse the following path: pc Configuration → Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Windows Defender → Scan
4. On the right side, double-click the ‘Scan removable drives’ policy.
5. Select the Enabled option.
6. Click Apply.
7. Click OK.
Once you complete these steps, the Windows 10 antivirus will include not only external drives during quick and custom scans but also during full virus scans.

IMPORTANT: The 1st method won’t work for Windows 10 Home users as they cannot access the gpedit.msc tool because it is unavailable. However, you can download it from here:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This may be obvious, but remember that using this option will take longer to complete the scan due to the fact that more data will have to be covered.

If you no longer need to use this feature, you can follow the same instructions, but on step No. 5, make sure to select the Not Configured option.

METHOD 2: – Using Windows Registry Editor
change the same settings using the Registry.
WARNING: This is a friendly reminder that editing the Registry is risky, and it can cause irreversible damage to your installation if you don’t do it correctly. We recommend making a full backup of your PC before proceeding. if you’re ready, then follow this:
1. Press Windows logo key+R to open the Run dialog.
2. In its window, type regedit.exe and click OK to open Windows Registry Editor.
3. Browse the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows Defender
Quick Tip: On the Windows 10 Creators Update and later, you can copy and paste the path into the new Registry’s address bar to quickly jump to the key destination.
4. Right-click on the Windows Defender (folder) key, select New and click on Key.
5. Name the subkey Scan and press Enter.
6. Right-click on the right side, select New and click on DWORD (32-bit) Value.
7. Name the key DisableRemovableDriveScanning and press Enter.
8. Double-click the newly created DWORD and make sure its value is 0.
After completing these steps, Windows Defender Antivirus will also scan removable drives you have connected to your pc.

If you want to revert the changes, simply right-click the Scan folder key and click Delete to remove the entries.
Information provided above is taken from:
Following information applies to: Windows 10 ONLY
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