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How to scan your computer for viruses and malware

This guide takes you step by step through the process of deep scanning your entire computer for all types of viruses , malware or spyware, with a free tool provided by Microsoft.

It is important to note on the front – this scan will probably take several hours to complete. The more files on your device (and the more devices are connected), the longer it will take. The computer will slow down significantly if you try to use it, the scan will happen, so you may want to consider letting this go overnight.

  1. Go to the download page for the Microsoft Safety Scanner app. Choose the download as either for the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the program (if you are not sure which one to use, check out this short guide on how to decide if you are using the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows). When the download is complete, double-click the file to run it.

    If you cannot download the file and save it to your local device, use another computer and download the file to a USB thumb drive. Connect that device and run the file from there.

  2. There is nothing to install so the program will start immediately. Check the box to confirm the license agreement, and then click the Next button.
  3. Click Next again.
  4. Select Full Scan and then click the Next button.
  5. Go away. Seriously, this will take hours.
  6. When you come back you will get a screen with information about the scan results. If something is found it will have been removed. Click View detailed results of the scan link (if available).
  7. If you want to get more information about something that was found and deleted, just click on the item. A web page opens in your default browser with an overview of the problem.
  8. Otherwise, you probably have the screen "completely clear". Click Finish
  9. The downloaded file will only work for 10 days. It is then considered "outdated" and must be downloaded again.

You should really use something like Windows Defender Antivirus (or Microsoft Security Essentials if you are using Windows 7) all the time – it will help avoid problems in the future.

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