security essentialsThe worst thing to happen to a computer is for it to get infected with a virus, spyware or malware. Malware, the short-term phrase for malicious software, is a type of virus that disrupts, denies and gathers information on a computer. This can be used to hack, phish, steal and otherwise destroy an operating system.

Malware can be any form of malicious attempt to gain access to your system. PCs in particular are vulnerable to a variety of malware threats and making sure they are free from harm is the key to keeping your valuable information safe.

What is Microsoft Safety Scanner?

Microsoft Safety Scanner is an on-demand Internet security tool. Once you download and install it, it runs immediately with the latest updates already applied before being downloaded to your system. This gives you a real-time protection scan from Microsoft. The scanner expires 10 days after being downloaded and it cannot be updated once installed on your system. In order to “update” it, you have to download the scanner again.

Microsoft Safety Scanner is meant as a simple way to scan your system for malware. It should not be used as an alternative to traditional anti-virus and spyware protection. You should always utilize an Internet security suite, and you have the option to invest in Microsoft’s Security Essentials if you like what the Safety Scanner does for your operating system.

Microsoft offers a variety of security solutions for the computer user through the Microsoft Security Essentials suite. The Safety Scanner is just a taste of what is involved in the security suite they offer. Microsoft Security Essentials is available for all genuine Windows users. This means you must have a licensed copy of Windows Vista or 7 to take advantage of it. It offers virus, spyware and malware protection for PCs with real-time updates to keep a computer safe from the latest threats. Check our review of Microsoft Security Essentials.

How to use Microsoft Safety Scanner:

You will want to visit the Microsoft Safety Scanner web site to download the program. It will ask you to choose the 32 or 64 bit version depending on which operating system you are currently running. Once you choose, it will begin the download for you.

safety scanner download screen

When you have finished downloading the Microsoft Safety Scanner, you can begin installing it. First, it will ask you to accept the terms and conditions of the program. Make sure to read through it completely before accepting them and hitting next. The download will not actually install the scanner on your system. It simply runs the scanner which is why you cannot update it like you would other software.

license agreement 1

Next, it will ask you if you want to continue with the scan, hit next to do so.

how to scan for malware

Now, the screen will prompt you to pick what type of scan you want to do. You can choose from Quick Scan, Full Scan and Customized Scan. Quick Scan will scan the most vulnerable folders and files for a fast scan. The QuickScan will take ten to 15 minutes to run. Full Scan will scan your entire operating system. This scan will take much longer; it took almost two hours on my personal computer.

Customized Scan will allow you to pick which areas of your computer to scan. Depending on how many areas you choose to scan, this could take anywhere from ten minutes to two hours. Once you choose which scan you want to do, hit next to start the scan.

types of scans

Just sit back and relax while the scan takes place.

fullscan started

When the scan is done, it will alert you to the results. For my scan, Microsoft Safety Scanner found no threats on my system. If you find a threat with your own system, the scanner will direct you to the next steps to take to get rid of it. At the bottom of the complete scan screen, Microsoft gives you the ability to report how your experience with the scanner went.

If you had a bad experience, you should report back to them so they can make improvements to the scanner in the future. There is also a community knowledgebase that can be accessed from this screen where you can ask questions, read about the scanner and find out more about the Microsoft Security Essentials suite.

scan complete

Conclusion – Should you use Microsoft Safety Scanner?

I tested out the Microsoft Safety Scanner on my system. I use a laptop most of the time running Windows 7. I use Avira AntiVir Personal for my virus protection. I also utilize Ad-Aware Free, Spybot: Search and Destroy and Malwarebytes to make sure my computer is free of malware. I downloaded the Microsoft Safety Scanner and was surprised that it did not take any longer than most of my full scan virus scans do.I was somehow expecting it to take longer than it actually did. The scan was thorough, found no traces of malware and ran effortlessly in the background without slowing down my system as I did other things.

Microsoft Safety Scanner is just one more tool available to keep computers safe. If you are using a Microsoft-based operating system, the Safety Scanner is geared to work seamlessly with your computer. This makes it simpler to use in many ways than other programs you may download. However, the Microsoft Safety Scanner should not be the only protection your system uses.

It can be a tool to help keep it clean, but you should also invest in anti-virus and real-time spyware protection. This will keep your computer safe from harm, allow you to deal with issues that pop up and secure your operating system from being tampered with.

Download the Microsoft Safety Scanner