When cleaning computers for malware and the likes, I usually like to hunt for the big fishes first and then deal with the smaller one’s later. Nothing helps me accomplish this task easier than using stand-alone utilities and scanners from security companies that set out to catch specific malwares and viruses. In many cases, the anti-malware software the user has installed is either currently way out of date in terms of malware definitions or that the user doesn’t know any better and is still using an expired version of the software that came pre-installed when they first purchased the computer. In these scenarios, I find it easier to just use a stand-alone scanner utility to pick up any malware it can detect first. Even if the anti-malware software in use is completely up-to-date, it doesn’t hurt to broaden your malware catching horizons by using other scanners and utilities. Believe it or not, there is no one stop shop when it comes to malware detection and removal. There are definitely one’s that are better than others but there still can be malwares that sneak past their defenses. Therefore, it’s always important to use more than one security scanner when performing malware removal.
Very recently, Microsoft has unleashed a new scanner utility that aims to helps users easily detect and remove the latest and most dangerous malwares out there. This scanner utility is called Microsoft Safety Scanner and is free to use. It’s best if you don’t go ahead and uninstall your current anti-malware scanner in favor of this tool because the biggest drawback of using it is that it has an expiration date! Well, sorta. As mentioned above, Microsoft’s Safety Scanner (MSS) detects only the most known malware’s out there. To put it in other words, it can only detect malware it knows of in its definition files. However, you have to remember though that the purpose of these scanners is not to provide you with real-time protection against malware infection. These scanners are usually reactive rather than proactive and must be run manually by the user to initiate a scan and removal. Even Microsoft advises you to not replace your current anti-malware software with MSS. However, if you need to perform a quick scan of an infected computer for nasty malware and viruses, MSS can definitely help you.
You can download Microsoft Safety Scanner from here.
As mentioned, MSS is not meant to be a replacement for a full anti-malware software. For that, there are many choices to choose from, especially if you are looking for a free one! Take a look here for some suggestions.
There is both a 32-bit and 64-bit version of the scanner so make sure to download the right one. The download weighs in at a hefty 70MB or so.
As you can see in the notice, MSS expires 10 days after downloading. This is so because as stated, the malware definitions MSS includes in your initial download will be out-of-date. There is no way for you to automatically download new definitions for MSS within the utility. The only way to do so is to download a new version of the utility as a whole. As with all definition based scanners out there, it is only as good as the definitions it uses to scan a computer. Therefore, it is usually best to download the newest version of MSS only when needed and throw it away when done.
Using MSS is fairly fool-proof. After accepting the initial EULA agreement, you get to choose the type of scan to initiate. You can either perform a quick scan, full scan, or a custom scan. Each type of scan is labeled in details to let you best decide how to proceed. I would definitely recommend going for the full scan on computers you are not familiar with. Although this type of scan takes the longest to complete, it is the more thorough scan compared to the other two.
Now you simply have to just wait for the scan to complete! If MSS finds any malware, it will automatically remove them for you. At the end, it will provide you with a report of its findings.Microsoft Safety Scanner is a self-executable. Therefore, no installation is required to perform a scan. To scan a foreign computer, simply load the scanner executable onto a USB thumb drive, boot the computer into Safe Mode (for best results) and launch the utility. Microsoft Safety Scanner is very similar to the Microsoft Software Removal Tool. However, the latter is usually not meant to be run manually by a user and instead is run and updated once every month via the Windows Update process. Technically, a user can still manually launch the utility by either typing in “mrt” in the run command box or manually downloading the latest version of the scanner from their website. Judging by size alone of the two scanners, it would seem that Microsoft Safety Scanner can catch a lot more malware and viruses as the malware definition is a lot bigger. Therefore from now on, if you need to perform any kind of malware scanning and removal, it’s best to use Microsoft Safety Scanner over the Microsoft Software Removal Tool utility.