If you’re using antivirus software that isn’t built into Windows (i.e. Windows Defender), then it will probably expire at some point. This is certainly true of the antivirus trials that come with many new PCs and laptops.

They might start nagging you that your subscription is about to expire, but what happens if you ignore the warnings and the antivirus licence expires? Here we answer all your questions.

How do I know if my antivirus has expired?

The first thing is to find out whether your current protection is still doing its job. If you know which software you are running, then it should be as simple as opening up the app and checking for any warnings: they aren’t subtle when your subscription has expired or is about to expire. That’s primarily because the company wants you to renew, but also because it’s likely you won’t be getting any more updates or potentially any protection at all.

If you don’t know which antivirus is running on a computer, then type Security into the Windows 10 search box and click on the Windows Security app which should appear in the list of results.

What happens when antivirus expires

Click on Virus & threat protection and it will tell you which software is being used for antivirus.

 What happens when antivirus expires

What happens if I don’t renew my antivirus?

If you ignore the warnings, or never saw them, then the software will probably stop getting the latest virus updates and your computer could be vulnerable against any new viruses and other malware.

It does, however, depend upon the provider. I have Norton 360 Deluxe installed and this continues to protect against viruses after the subscription expires during a ‘grace period’. 

What happens when antivirus expires

However, I found that it had not downloaded the latest updates, but that this could be done manually. (Other features, such as online storage, are lost when the subscription expires.)

You should check in your antivirus software control panel or dashboard to check whether it is still updating its database of virus definitions, along with other important updates. It may have disabled itself and reverted to Windows Defender.

Obviously, you should not leave it in this state: either renew your subscription or uninstall the software and install replacement security software - or use Windows Defender.

What should I do if I don’t want to renew my antivirus subscription?

You should uninstall the expired software by going to Windows Settings > Apps and then clicking on the software in the list and then on Uninstall.

When your computer restarts, Windows Defender should be enabled by default. Again, you can check by opening the Windows Security app.

At this point, you can move to a different provider - check out our recommendations of the best antivirus software - or you can stick with Windows Defender which, you may be surprised to learn - is as good as or better than a lot of free antivirus software.