Launch a web browser and go to the Microsoft Safety Scanner download page. When the page appears, click the large blue Download Now button. When prompted, click to choose the version to match your version of Windows – 32- or 64-bit (if unsure, choose 32-bit). If the File Download Security Warning dialogue box appears, click Save and then choose a location for the downloaded file. Firefox users should select Save File to save the download to Firefox’s default download folder; it will take just a few seconds to download. Now locate and double-click the file and work through the installation wizard, clicking the tick box to signal your acceptance of the licence agreement and clicking Next at each turn. Each Safety Scanner download expires after 10 days, so complete installation within this timeframe.
When the Scan type dialogue box appears, decide what you’d like Safety Scanner to scrutinise. If you’re in a hurry, choosing Quick scan will restrict the hunt to the most likely places for viruses to hide. Full scan is the most thorough option, obviously, but it make take a long while to complete. If you suspect a particular file, then choose the Customized scan radio button before clicking the Choose Folder button and selecting a particular folder for Safety Scanner to check. Make your selection and click Next.
Safety Scanner will check your PC for viruses and all other types of threat (spyware and so forth). How long it takes depends on the choice made in Step 2: the Quick scan option takes just a couple of minutes while the Full scan mode can take hours. A progress bar will be displayed as the scan proceeds. There’s nothing much to do at this point other than keep an eye on the Files Infected figure and hope that it stays at zero.
Hopefully, the Files Infected figure will remain at zero throughout and, at the end of the process, Safety Scanner will display this Scan results dialogue box with a reassuring green tick. However, notice that there are a couple of clickable links below. Clicking the ‘community’ link, for example, will open the Microsoft Answers website in the default web browser, where other users may be found discussing the same problem.
In the event that one or more problems are detected, Safety Scanner will instead display a dialogue box like this: click the ‘View detailed results of the scan’ link to see a list of problems and actions (if any) taken by Safety Scanner. In this case, for example, Safety Scanner has found and removed a virus. To find out more about the culprit, click the offending entry under the Malware heading.
Clicking a virus entry’s name will open the Microsoft Malware Protection Center website in the default web browser, to show detailed information about the identified threat. If Safety Scanner failed to remove (or remedy) the problem at Step 5, this information can serve as research for a cure. If no specific remedy is detailed here, use a search tool such as Google to look for further help. Alternatively, click the ‘community’ link at Steps 4 or 5 to seek help from the Microsoft Answers website.