Microsoft Defender automatically puts all the rules in place for whatever roles are installed on the server as I investigated that as well. When the Web Server role is installed and Windows Defender is enabled all the AV exception rules are created as needed.
This server had not had the exceptions setup and is using a paid AV which is probably related to this issue.
I upgraded a 9.3.0 to 9.4.4 successfully no errors on this same machine instance. Updated, removed, deleted users, created moved some pages around... still doing stuff on them. Installed latest DNN Events 7.4 from 6.2 successfully. So far so good other than an issue with updating the version of a few modules from 9.3.2 to 9.4.4 which is not a big deal if it is even an issue I just reported on github.