Windows Vista Annoyance #4: Turning off Windows Security Alerts

April 10, 2007

(See also my other Vista Annoyance posts – turning off User Account Control, turning on Flip and Flip / Window Switcher, sharing files on a network between two Vista computers, getting an older program to work with Vista, and turning on Windows Aero.)

You may have seen this if you’ve uninstalled an anti-virus program and installed a new one — perhaps following my blog post about AVG, or if you’ve followed the instructions in my Vista Annoyance #1 blog post about User Account Control. An icon shows up in the lower right area of your task bar at the bottom of the screen, looking like a Window Security Alertred shield with a white X on it. Every once in a while, a balloon pops up warning you that a certain security feature has been disabled. If you had disabled this security feature on purpose (i.e., turning User Account Control off), this balloon quickly becomes annoying.

Turning off this balloon notification, and even making this icon disappear from the taskbar, is embarrassingly simple.

1) Right-click on the Window Security Alert icon (which looks like a red shield) in the taskbar and click on “Open Security Center.”

2) In the resulting “Window Security Center” window, click on “Change the way Security Center alerts me” in the left column.

Windows Security Alert 2

3) A new window appears with three choices: a) “Yes, notify me and display the icon (recommended),” b) “Don’t notify me, but display the icon,” and “Don’t notify me and don’t display the icon (not recommended).”

Windows Security Alert 3

4) Depending on your preference, you may want to pick the second or third choice. For someone who has the User Agent Control turned off permanently, that means I have a permanent red-X’ed icon in the lower right corner anyway. I may as well turn it off — and so I’ve selected the third option.

Whoops, now my laptop monitor is swiveling 360 degrees and projectile-hurling green bile. Hmm. Not sure if it needs an exorcism or if it has to do with pent-up security warnings …


36 Responses to “Windows Vista Annoyance #4: Turning off Windows Security Alerts”

  1. Lynn Says:

    Um, you ROCK! Between this and the stupid UAC warnings I was ready to pitch the new ‘puter out the window! Thank you for the quick and concise instructions on eliminating these annoyances. I have an anti-virus/firewall program I am quite happy with and which does its job better than Norton ever did, so I don’t need all these warnings. I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING MICROSOFT! Anyway, thank you thank you!

  2. Proud Geek Says:

    Glad to be of help! :-) Any other Vista annoyances, just let me know and I’ll see if I can post a fix.

  3. Alex Says:

    My Windows Security Alert window has the ‘malware’ area in red, but my PC has Norton Internet Security installed. Is this just another Vista glitch or should I do something about it? Thanks.

  4. proudgeek Says:

    Hi Alex — I wonder if your PC’s Norton Internet Security overrode Windows Defender, turning it off because Norton has similar better features. And because the Security Center sees Defender as being turned off, it marks this area in red. Go to the Windows logo in the lower left corner, then Control Panel, then Security Center. In the same line as “Malware Protection,” click on the little downward arrow icon to expand the options under it (if the options haven’t already been expanded). What does it say in the expanded area? It might say something about Norton reporting that it is up to date and virus scanning is on, but that Windows Defender is off — is that the case?

  5. Alex Says:

    Hi…This what is in the Malware Protection area:
    …under Virus Protection it says that ‘Windows did not find antivirus software on this computer’
    …under Spyware and other Malware Protection it says that ‘Windows Defender and Norton Internet Security both report that they are on.’
    Now that I’ve had some time to think about what I could have done myself to mess things up, I recall that I did install/uninstall an online antivirus scanner. It seems to me that this problem started after the unsinstall. Could it be that the uninstall removed some files that where necessary?

  6. TomSofa Says:

    Hey there!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you… I thought I was going to have to get busy with the registry or something like that… Great advice! Cheers!

  7. mike leger Says:

    i don’t have “Change the way Security Center alerts me” i only have “get the latest …”

  8. name Says:

    same bs as above

  9. name Says:

    Okay, problem solved. Re-enabling the security centre service, now the option “change the way security centre alerts me” has appeared. Now the notifications can be disabled and the service.

  10. Paul Says:

    I do believe turning off windows defender will also delete all recovery dates. I have had this problem so is it a problem to leave it on? And is this correct?

  11. proudgeek Says:

    Paul – shouldn’t be a problem leaving it on. It’s just an annoyance to some people.

  12. Shenli Says:

    hi proud geek
    i dont find “change the way security…..” in my place.
    i’m using windows vista home premium.
    my case is i’ve already disabled the security center(completely) without disabling the components of the security service 1 by 1.
    i do this by accessing services.msc

    any clue how to remove this annoying red X shield alert showed every windows start-up ??

  13. I tell you what mate.

    Your guides are so muuch better than microsofts website.
    I have been looking how to share my mums folders to my laptop so i can transfer her fav vids without having to move em from public.

    Thanks so much

    and with regards to UAC i turned it off then figured id get the very irritating pop up and then i found yet another of your guides and now its gone.

    Thank you so much once again.

    The public need more people like you.

    Thanks for a third time

    Craig =D

  14. donnaopi Says:


  15. chris Says:

    Thank you very much for the tips, I am about to toss my new computer out the window cause of vista and I seem to be having every possible problem it entails. I was wondering if you had some answers for a couple more problems I’ve been having:
    1. It keeps creating new folders for music, pictures, documents, etc. However it puts them into my “contacts” folder (which I deleted the first day) and sets them as the default, causing other things to mess up (such as all my icons are deleted when I restart).
    2. The damn updates keep telling me to install them over and over and I’ve tried every troubleshoot on the internet and it still doesn’t go away or show up in my installed updates list (even though it says it was successful.. 4 times)

  16. S!D Says:

    Thanks a lot!!! Thanks for the great discovery. :)
    Those notifications were really annoying.
    Keep growing… :)

  17. Russ Says:


  18. rob ny Says:

    Thanks! I am officially less annoyed w/ Vista Ultimate

  19. shane Says:

    Thank you!

  20. Aoi Says:

    Thanks for this guide, I’ve been seeing that damn icon so many times I wanted to kill myself haha.

    Rock on dude!

  21. lynch Says:

    cheers for this!

  22. eleonore Says:

    would like yo read my mail, when do I get the red shield thanks eleonore

  23. Stuart Says:

    You should look into other blogging platforms, wordpress is getting slower and slower these days, I really like the site tho so its worth the wait!!

  24. Asim Says:


    I would appreciate if you could please advise me on the following: I have windows vista installed on my laptop and getting following message in Windows Security Center under Malware Protection:

    Malware Protection……….Checking Settings….shaded in yellow

    Virus Protection…..Not Compatible

    Kaspersky internet security is on but it is reporting its status to windows security center in a format that is no longer supported. User the programs automatic feature or contact the program manufacturer for the updaed feature.

    I have updated the kaspersky internet security but still the mentioned message is not going away.

    Your help will be appreicated.

  25. Christopher Says:

    I’m having a similar problem. I keep getting the balloons and alerts from security center, but when I go to click “change the way it alerts me” it tells me that I have spyware and that I need to buy SoftCop Antispyware. In fact, it tells me to do that no matter what I click in the security center options. So I’m stuck.

  26. […] to the quoted snippet — fixed this problem. I didn’t notice because Windows Vista is so infernally annoying across the board that minor things like Windows Update being less annoying apparently left no impression. Please […]

  27. Rosie Says:

    I tried this but when I click on Security Center, there is no place at all that says “Change the way..”. Do you know how to do it without?

  28. daisy Says:

    hi, i went through the whole process of change the way security center alerts me, and restarted my pc and i am still getting the red x sheild. any other advice?

  29. Howard Says:

    HI I was wondering if I could get some help with something. I am having a problem with Security Center in Windows Vista Home basic.

    I was wondering if someone could help me get something back to Green the other day I uninstalled off my computer Microsofts one care scanner I did not realize deleting Microsoft One care scanner off my computer would cause Windows Security Center to show Malware protection as yellow? When I pushed on the malware protection menu it says that Pc Cillin antivirus is still on it is just reporting to to Windows security center in a different format that is not supported it says to update the program or call the manufacturer for a new version?

    What can I do to correct this problem and turn malware protection from yellow to green. My firewall and other security feaures are green?

    I should mention that I am an intermediate computer user. Is their a simple and easy way to correct this above problem.
    please if you could explain your answer to me in English and in complete sentences.
    thanks very much.

  30. Walter Livaudais Says:

    Vista home premium edition. I can’t get past the offer to upgrade to the buy their crap security. I would die before submitting to extortion. When I click on change the way security center alerts me I get a box with a bunch of settings checked that I can’t uncheck with apply or cancel at the bottom. Support and registration buttons at top. Nothing gives me any choices to turn this hassle off. Can u help?

    • proudgeek Says:

      That’s interesting – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that. Perhaps make sure you’re using an account that has Administrator authority and/or look for a setting that allows you to modify these options?

  31. robert Says:

    i have had it with security, i have windows vista home and it drives me crazy, the red icon, the telling of microsoft essentiakls off turn on, but i cannot turn it on it seems blocked by some partition that i no nothing about i have bought mcafee, and at this point they are in my machine useing my mouse and keyboard saying that everything is a disasterguess what there right, but they are trying to help i put my fraith in them, i have to trust someone and i have to get this machine fixed. thank you for haveing this informative sight,
    robert vista home premium

  32. DW Says:

    Exactly what I was looking for! So glad to get rid of that icon for good.

  33. […] stupidity as a means of virus and malware distribution? With the release of Windows Vista and its ever-annoying Windows Security Alerts, we Apple junkies achieved an all new plateau of faux superiority because obviously Windows users […]

  34. Amber Says:

    What if it does show me Step 2?

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