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How to fix error code 0x800704ec in Windows 10?

By Emmanuel Dairo | March 2, 2020 |

greater than 14 minutes

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These days, it is accepted wisdom to mentally budget for a Windows 10 error. They are as inevitable as snow in winter. They may appear as gentle bugs that a simple restart will fix, like powder snow, easily dispelled. Fate might decide you’re due an unlucky day and send you a more concerning bug, like hail bouncing on your roof.

The Windows 10 Error Code 0x800704EC manifests itself in at least two forms. Some users notice it when they attempt to turn on Windows Defender. Instead of the expected action, the app’s icon is grayed out and unresponsive. Or, if it responds, it responds with the Error Code 0x800704EC.

Other users get the error when they launch the Microsoft Store app and try to install their favourite programs. The store is unable to load; instead, it displays an error message along with the code 0x800704EC.

The happy news is that both manifestations of the error code are eminently solvable. This guide shows you what to do to get either Windows Defender or Microsoft Store to work. Should you be so unlucky as to have both applications stop working at the same time, then this guide is the one stone you need to kill two birds.

What Is Error Code 0x800704EC?

The answer to the question depends on who you ask. But, broadly, it is an error code that appears on the heels of certain Windows applications stopping to work. Instead of launching or starting as expected, the program in question is blocked and sends the 0x800704EC error code instead.

In the case of Windows Defender, the error code signifies that the application cannot start. This can be caused by multiple factors. For example, when Windows Defender has been disabled through the Group Policy Editor, when the user clicks the program icon, the following message is displayed:

This program is blocked by group policy. For more information, contact your system administrator. (Error Code: 0x800704ec)

If that isn’t the cause, the error is likely due to conflicts caused by the antivirus software installed on the system. Defender might be unable to operate while third-party protection software controls the real-time protection task for the system. Thus, try as one might, Defender simply will not work while the other software exercises control.

Irrespective of whether the Error Code 0x800704EC in Windows Defender is due to faulty Group Policy settings, malware, incompatible security software, or even corrupted system files, the results are not funny. Obviously, nobody will be happy to experience constant application crashes, system freezes, blue screens of death, or other symptoms of the error.

How to Fix Error Code 0x800704EC When Turning On Windows Defender

It is quite frustrating when the Error Code 0x800704EC shows up in Windows Defender. You’re unable to turn on native real-time protection, and this can have a damaging effect on your system. In particular, your machine becomes less safe as the risk of viruses going undetected increases exponentially.

That is why we have compiled this section to help you resolve the issue and get Defender running again. Each of the fixes presented here has been tested and confirmed working by multiple users. You can as well try your luck with them, and you should have something positive to say about their efficacy when you’re done.

  1. Disable Third-Party Virus Protection

From the explanation of the core causes of the Error Code 0x800704EC, it should be clear that conflicts between security tools are the main culprit. During the first decade of this century, Defender used to be known as Microsoft Security Essentials. Far from being a full-fledged antivirus, it was more of an extra security aid. Everyone still relied on the main protection products on the market, such as Avast, Bitdefender, Norton, Avira, et al. Microsoft Security Essentials worked alongside any of these without much conflict.

Defender came into its own as a full security suite in Windows 8. It came pre-installed on Windows and took on the role of the main malware protector. However, habits die hard and the populace still continued to use alternatives, not just because of familiarity, but also because some of those are genuinely superb options for system protection.

Back to the issue at hand, protection on Windows is best left to one security tool at a time. And that is either Defender or your third-party option, but not both. If you wish to use Defender but also have an active alternative, you’ll likely have to turn the latter off first.

Since the antivirus can come in handy in the future, you don’t have to uninstall it. Simply disabling its real-time protection feature should be enough. Once the system detects that it isn’t being protected, Windows Defender will automatically be enabled. Thus, should Defender run into problems later, you can simply go into the other software’s settings and enable its protection feature once more.

Below, we explain how to disable the protection feature in the top five antivirus tools on the market — ESET, McAfee, Norton, Bitdefender, and Avast. Before you begin, open Task Manager, find the running processes affiliated with the software you wish to enable, right-click each one and select End Task.

ESET

These steps are valid for the latest versions of ESET Internet Security, ESET Smart Security, and ESET Cyber Security:

  • Open the product. Click its desktop shortcut, find it in the Start Menu, or open the system tray, right-click the software and select Open.
  • In the left pane, select Setup.
  • In the right pane, select Computer Protection.
  • In the next window, click the “Pause antivirus and anti-spyware protection” link at the bottom.
  • Choose the length of time you wish to pause the feature for and click the Apply button.

Note that ESET products automatically re-enable protection upon a reboot, so you might have to do this each time you start the system.

McAfee Security Center

Following these steps will turn off McAfee protection for as long as you need:

  • Open the McAfee app through the easiest means available to you.
  • Select the PC Security tab at the top.
  • Select the Real-time Scanning option in the left tab group.
  • In the next window, you will see the “Real-time Scanning On” notification. Click the Turn Off button on the left.
  • Expand the “When do you want to resume Real-Time Scanning” option and select a time. Choose Never if you want to use Defender as your main antivirus going forward.
  • Click the Turn Off button.

The next step is to turn off McAfee Firewall:

  • On the left tab of the McAfee home screen, select Firewall.
  • In the next window, click the Turn Off button.
  • Once again, choose how long you wish to keep it turned off. Select Never.
  • Click the Turn Off button.

That’s all. Both McAfee protection options will stay disabled until you manually enable them back.

Symantec Products

Symantec Corporation is the maker of the popular Norton family of protection software. Here’s how to disable Norton AntiVirus:

  • Open the system notification tray and right-click the Norton icon.
  • Select Disable Auto-Protect.
  • The Security Request window pops up. Expand the “Select the duration” drop-down and choose how long you want Norton to be disabled. Choose Permanently to keep it turned off until you decide to use it again.
  • Once you’re satisfied with your choice, click OK.

Norton has a built-in firewall as well. You can disable that using the same steps above. In step two, select Smart Firewall instead and proceed as usual.

BitDefender

  • Launch the application.
  • Go to Options > Preferences.
  • Toggle the switch beside Antivirus to Off.
  • Toggle the switch beside Vulnerability Scan to Off.
  • Click Apply.
  • Click OK.

Avast Antivirus

The Avast security suite used to reign supreme, but it remains immensely popular among the Windows faithful. Here is how to disable its real-time protection feature:

  • Open the system tray and right-click the Avast icon.
  • Move your cursor to the “Avast shields control” option to expand it.
  • Select the “Disable permanently” option.
  • You will get a pop-up confirmation window. Click OK
  • Remove Your Third-Party Antivirus

If the above method doesn’t work for you, you have the option to totally remove the third-party antivirus software. If you have purchased a license, you don’t have to worry about this as you can simply reinstall the tool later, enter your license key and resume enjoying the service. Before you begin, you should end the processes associated with the program via Task Manager.

Open Control Panel, click the “Uninstall a program” option under Programs, find the antivirus in the program list, right-click it, and select Uninstall. Follow the onscreen instructions. You may need to reboot your PC once for all the software files to be removed.

Some security tools come with their own uninstallers. Clicking the Uninstall button in Control Panel sometimes launches the uninstaller for the program. Generally, using the app’s custom uninstaller is the better option. That way, the chances that all the software files are actually removed are high. You may use a third-party removal tool to ensure that there are no leftover files or registry items.

However, some programs like Avast have been observed to give an error message when the user tries to uninstall them. Avast, for example, has a self-defense mechanism that kicks into gear when it detects an uninstallation attempt. This mechanism is put in place to stop malware from removing the tool. So, before you can remove Avast, you need to turn off the mechanism. Only then will you be able to close its processes in Task Manager and uninstall it via the Control Panel.

  • Launch the Avast application.
  • Go to Menu > Settings > Troubleshooting.
  • Find the Enable Self-Defense checkbox and untick it. Click OK on the confirmation prompt.
  • Close Avast.

Now, you can close and uninstall Avast without any errors. If you’re using another antivirus with an anti-removal feature, consult its help guide for how to turn the feature off.

Whether disabling or removing your third-party security software enables Defender to work again or not, the fact remains that double protection is better than just having Defender running in the background. It would be nice to have a companion that blocks malware alongside Defender. However, as you have doubtless noticed, many of these types of programs conflict with Defender and with which other.

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One protection tool that has no such issues is Auslogics Anti-Malware. Perhaps, that is why it is approved by Microsoft for use on Windows 10. The software offers robust defence against malware, Trojans, crypto-mining software, and other types of viruses. More importantly, it easily works alongside your main antivirus, helping to detect threats that other software can miss.

  • Enable the Windows Services Required by Defender

Once you disable or remove your alternative protection software, Windows Defender’s protection feature automatically kicks on. However, sometimes this doesn’t happen for some reason and you keep getting the Error Code 0x800704EC or the Defender icon stays grayed out.

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One explanation is that the Microsoft services associated with Defender have been turned off. This could be a system glitch or the handiwork of malware. Irrespective of the reason, these services need to be active, otherwise you won’t be able to use Defender.

So, you need to verify whether they’re running and turn those that aren’t on. For this, you need to open the Microsoft Services window, identify the individual services and carry out the correct action on each.

Launch the Run box with Win Key+R and type “services.msc” (without quotes). Click the OK button.

In the Services window, you need to look for and check the status of the following services:

  • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection Service
  • Windows Defender Antivirus Network Inspection Service
  • Windows Defender Antivirus Service
  • Windows Defender Firewall
  • Windows Defender Security Center Service.

If the status field for a service is blank, it isn’t running. Right-click the service and select Start. Do this for all relevant items. When you’re done, restart the PC and try to run Windows Defender once more.

If everything goes as expected, you won’t even need to do anything. Defender will activate itself, and you just have to sit back and enjoy the protection it offers.

  • Change Values of Windows Defender Keys

In case the previous solutions don’t do anything and you continue to get the 0x800704EC error when you try to activate Defender, don’t worry. The Registry Editor can be used to resolve the issue. This isn’t as daunting as it sounds. As long as the proper steps are carefully followed, you should be able to do it easily.

Remember to be careful when using the Registry Editor. Careless tweaks can cause irreparable damage to the OS, so tread softly.

  • Open the Registry Editor. Type “regedit” without quotes into the Run dialog and hit the Enter key.
  • In the Registry Editor window, navigate to the following location or copy-paste it in the search bar at the top to quickly access the Windows Defender keys:

Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender

  • Look for the key labeled Standard or Default in the right pane, double-click it and change the “Value data” entry to 0.
  • Click OK.
  • Next, look for the key labeled Disable Anti-spyware, double-click it, and change the “Value data” entry to 0.
  • Click OK.

Next, reboot your computer and verify that Windows Defender is now active.

  • Clean Corrupted Files with System File Checker and DISM

Corruption of vital system files can cause issues like the 0x800704EC error in Windows Defender. There are certain common files that all core Windows applications share, and these files must remain undamaged for everything to work smoothly.

If Defender keeps returning the Error Code 0x800704EC instead of running, a System File Checker scan can help you repair what is broken within the system so that core Windows apps can start working again.

Microsoft recommends that Windows 10 users run a DISM scan alongside the SFC scan. The DISM tool helps to repair the Windows system image if it is riddled with errors.

To begin, open an elevated Command Prompt. Press the Windows and X keys at the same time and select the Command Prompt (Admin) option. Next, type the following into the CMD window and hit the Enter key:

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

Running this command assumes that the Windows Update client is working normally since the DISM tool uses the service to provide the necessary replacement files if required. If the Windows Update client is unavailable, run this command instead:

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:C:\RepairSource\Windows /LimitAccess

C:\RepairSource\Windows” signifies the location of the repair source, which can be removable media, a network share or a running Windows installation.

Now you’re ready to run the SFC scan properly. In the CMD window, type the following and hit the Enter key:

sfc /scannow

Depending on your PC, you might have to wait for a few minutes or longer for the scan to reach 100%. Upon completion, you get the scan results.

Ideally, the System File Checker informs you that it has fixed the problematic files through the following message:

Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them. Details are included in the CBS.Log %WinDir%\Logs\CBS\CBS.log.

If you get this, you should reboot your system and try to run Defender. Chances are that since the underlying cause has been resolved, the program will run without hindrance.

If, however, you receive a message that “Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations”, it means that there are no corrupt Windows files and the cause of the error lies elsewhere.

  • Enable Defender with the Local Group Policy Editor

Some users reported how after a long search for solutions, they eventually discovered that the issue lies with the Group Policy Editor. It might transpire that nothing is wrong with Defender at all; it has simply been turned off in Group Policy. This might happen if the network administrator disabled Defender for all the network clients.

You can check whether or not Defender is active in the Group Policy Editor and enable it yourself if required. However, to be able to make that kind of change, you need to be logged in to an administrator account.

  • Open the Run dialog in an administrator account, type “gpedit.msc” (no quotes) and hit the Enter key.
  • In the Group Policy window, select Local Computer Policy.
  • Select Administrative Templates.
  • Select Windows Components.
  • Double-click Windows Defender.
  • You will see a list of Windows Defender settings in the right pane. Double-click Turn Off Windows Defender.
  • Select the Disable option.
  • Click Apply.
  • Click OK.

Perform a reboot and try to activate Defender.

In most cases, you should have solved the issue that results in the Error Code 0x800704EC long before you reach the last solution above. In a situation where nothing you’ve done seems to work, you might have to either update Windows or reinstall it.

How to Fix Error Code 0x800704EC in Windows Store

While some users get the Error Code 0x800704EC as a result of Windows Defender being blocked, for others, the error is displayed when they try to use the Windows Store. The two scenarios may share the same error code, but their solutions are vastly different.

The error appearing in Windows Store (now called Microsoft Store) is plain evidence that the store is blocked. By what, you might wonder. It might be due to a change in the Group Policy Editor. That change prevents you from using the store to download your favourite media and install many useful apps. It is also possible that the store has somehow been deregistered. This is Windows, after all, and incredible things routinely happen.

Users who encounter this error log in to Store, only to be confronted by this error message on a white background:

  • Microsoft Store is blocked
  • Check with your IT or system administrator
  • Report this problem
  • Code: 0x800704EC

You don’t need to exert yourself too much looking for a cure for this issue. We have all the solutions available right here. Getting rid of the error entails editing the registry, registering Microsoft Store again through PowerShell, or using the Group Policy Editor to enable it. We will present each solution one by one so you can try them out at leisure.

  • Using the Registry Method

As long as you bear in mind that doing the wrong things in the registry likely won’t have a happy ending, you’ll be fine. Just stick to doing what is presented below, and you should be able to use the Microsoft Store like before you updated the system.

  • Open the Run dialog, type “regedit” without quotes and click OK.
  • When the Registry Editor window opens, navigate to the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\WindowsStore

  • Look for the “Remove WindowsStore” key in the right pane and check its value. If the value is a number that isn’t 0, it needs to be changed to zero. Double-click the key and change the number in the “Value data” field to 0 and then click OK to save the change.

If the WindowsStore location doesn’t exist, you must create it for this tweak to work. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\, right-click Microsoft and select New > key. Name the new key WindowsStore.

Now, select the newly created key, right-click the empty space in the right pane, and select New > DWORD (32-bit). Change the name of the DWORD to Remove WindowsStore, double-click it, and change the value in the “Value data” field to 0. Click OK and exit the Registry Editor.

After doing a reboot, you should find that the issue with the Microsoft Store has gone away.

  • Using the Group Policy Editor Method

If the Store has been turned off for a user running Windows 10 Professional or an Enterprise version of the OS, it might be possible to enable it back through the Group Policy Editor.

Running the gpedit.msc command in the Run dialog opens the Local Group Policy Editor. From that window, navigate to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Store, or just paste that into the search bar to quickly jump there.

Search for the “Turn off the Store application” policy setting in the right pane, right-click on it and select Settings. When the feature’s settings window is displayed, change the setting to Not Configured or Disabled and click the Apply and OK buttons one after the other.

If the setting is grayed out, it means you’re not allowed to modify the option. You might have to resort to using Microsoft Store only on your home computer.

  • Using the PowerShell Method

Microsoft PowerShell allows you to tweak many settings on Windows 10. You can re-register applications like Microsoft Store to get rid of the Error Code 0x800704EC and make the app usable once more.

  • Open the Start Menu, type PowerShell, right-click the top result and select Run as Administrator. Accept the UAC confirmation prompt when it appears.
  • Next, paste the following in the PowerShell window and hit the Enter key:

Get-AppXPackage -Name Microsoft.WindowsStore | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml” -Verbose}

  • Once the task is completed, reboot the system.

That’s all for how to get rid of the Error Code 0x800704EC issue where Microsoft Store is blocked in Windows 10. You can also run a scan with Auslogics BoostSpeed to eliminate corrupt Microsoft Store caches and other junk files that might be causing system crashes and application glitches.

Fed up with your slow PC? Tired of waiting for Windows to start up? Take a look at the most common reasons behind poor performance and the best ways to deal with them here.

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