A recent article, Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, described a built-in PC tool which will scan for, and isolate, malicious software. Microsoft also offers a similar (and free) stand-alone security device; the Microsoft Safety Scanner . Like the WMSTRT, this tool is not designed to replace working and up-to-date antivirus software, but is to be used as a complementary tool for post infection detection and removal. However, it can be used in conjunction with installed antivirus (for free antivirus recommendations, see the articles, Avast and Microsoft Security Essentials).
Find the Microsoft Safety Scanner here and click the blue Download Now button.
In the dialog box that appears, click either the 32-bit or 64-bit version, and the download will begin.
Note: The Safety Scanner expires 10 days after being downloaded. According to Microsoft, “To rerun a scan with the latest anti-malware definitions, download and run the Microsoft Safety Scanner again.” With such a limited life span and, since the installation file (called msert.exe) is fairly large, you may want to know where it lands in your system, so it can be deleted after the scan. If you’re unsure where to find it, please take a look at the article, Where Downloads Go.
Opening the file in Vista or Windows 7 will likely bring up the UAC message below. Just click Continue.
This will be followed by a license agreement and brief description of the device. In the scanner dialog box, select a scan type; Quick, Full, or Customized. Time constraints limited mine to a Quick scan but, if there’s evidence of an existing infection, I recommend a Full scan (this may take several hours).
The completed scan will either provide a list of threats that were detected and removed or (hopefully) a clean bill of digital health.
Click here for Safety Scanner troubleshooting.
Malicious software is probably the most common, and most crippling, problem affecting computers. Microsoft Safety Scanner offers one of the solutions.