Virtualization-based security, aka VBS, allows Windows 11 to create a secure memory enclave that's isolated from unsafe code. Another built-in feature called Hypervisor-Enforced Code Integrity (HVCI) uses the capabilities of VBS to prevent unsigned or questionable drivers and software from getting into memory. Together VBS and HVCI add a layer of protection that limits how much damage malware can do, even if it gets past your antivirus software.
Unfortunately, VBS and HVCI have a significant performance cost, particularly when it comes to gaming. In our tests, we found that games ran as much as 5 percent slower with these settings on as with them off. Others have seen even bigger deltas; our colleagues at PC Gamer saw drops of 25 percent, though they tested with a 10th Gen Intel CPU when Microsoft recommends no less than an 11th processor.
Simply upgrading to Windows 11 will not turn on VBS, unless you already had it enabled in Windows 10, where it has been a non-default option for several years. So, at the moment, this is a problem few people will actually have.
However, if you do a clean install of Windows 11 or buy a brand new laptop or desktop with Windows 11, you may have VBS / HVCI enabled by default. Microsoft recommends that OEMS have it enabled by default but notes that "some devices that are especially sensitive to performance (e.g. gaming PCs) may choose to ship with HVCI disabled." And we know of at least one OEM, MSI, who told us that they would ship their systems with VBS disabled.
If you're using Windows 11 and performance, particularly gaming performance, matters most to you, we'll show you how to check to see if VBS / HVCI is enabled and how to turn it off. However, if you're not gaming, you may want to leave the security in place.
How to Check if VBS is Enabled in Windows 11
Before you start thinking about turning off VBS, you need to find out if it's on in the first place.
1. Open system information. The easiest way to do that is by searching for "system information" in Windows search and clicking the top result.
2. Scroll down to find the "Virtualization-based security" row. If it says "running," VBS is enabled. But if it says "not enabled," then you're done.
How to Disable VBS / HVCI in Windows 11
1. Search for Core Isolation in Windows search and click the top result.
2. Click Windows Security and Ok if asked what app to use. A submenu opens.
3. Toggle Memory Integrity to off, if it was on. If it is not on, skip ahead to step 6.
4. Reboot your PC as prompted..
5. Check system info again to see if virtualization-based security is listed as "not enabled." If so, you are done. If not, go to step 6 where you'll disable VBS in the registry.
6. Open regedit. The easiest way is by hitting Windows + R, entering regedit in the text box and click Ok.
7. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\DeviceGuard.
8. Open EnableVirtualizationBasedSecurity and set it to 0.
9. Close regedit and reboot your PC.
At this point, you should see that VBS is disabled in the system info app.