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microsoft safety scannerDo emergency scans of your computer with Microsoft’s latest free download. Microsoft Safety Scanner, a portable application that can examine any PC, can’t replace a full-blown anti-virus program The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs You must know by now: you need antivirus protection. Macs, Windows and Linux PCs all need it. You really have no excuse. So grab one of these ten and start protecting your computer! Read More , but it is a great tool to have around should infections pop up. Best of all – because it doesn’t need to be installed, you can easily download it on one computer, stick it on a thumb drive and clean up another computer.

Microsoft Safety Scanner doesn’t offer any real-time protection; that’s not what it’s intended for. This tool is Microsoft’s answer to scan-only tools such as Malwarebytes Stop & Delete Spyware With Malwarebytes for Windows Stop & Delete Spyware With Malwarebytes for Windows Read More and Combofix: tools intended to clean up existing messes, not prevent future ones. As such, this is less something every home user should download than something they should be aware of should something go wrong.

Take note that Safety Scanner cannot update itself. As such, you’ll need to re-download it every ten days if you want to make regular use of it.


The first thing you need to do is head over to the Safety Scanner download page and grab the program. This is the download button:

microsoft safety scanner

I only point this out because of how much this link looks like an ad or a scam. Don’t worry, this is the real download button.


The file you will download is an .exe file. There’s nothing to install; you’re ready to start scanning if you’d like.


Running this program is as easy as double-clicking. Pick the kind of scan you want to run:

microsoft virus scanner

As depicted, you can do a quick or full scan. If you know which file is corrupted, you can scan a specific folder as well. Most times a quick scan will do the trick, but a full scan is always safest. Choose a setting and click next; scanning will begin:

microsoft virus scanner

If you’re lucky, you’ll see a message that looks like this:

microsoft virus scanner

This means that, as far as Safety Scanner knows, your system is clean. Alternatively, you may see a message like this:

microsoft safety scanner

Go ahead and tell the program to clean up your system, if you wish.


As previously stated, every download of Microsoft Safety Scanner expires after ten days. This is because the software cannot update itself, and Microsoft does not want outdated versions of the software out in the wild. As such, it’s best to wait until you need Safety Scanner to download it. My advice would be to bookmark the download page.

I think expiring after ten days, while perhaps a little heavy-handed, is a good idea overall. It ensures the program will always be up-to-date, while making it unnecessary for a computer to have a working Internet connection in order to be scanned. All techs should add this tool to their kit, for sure.


Microsoft, once infamous for its lack of concern about security, has been working hard to help make its platform a safer one recently. This tool is just another part of that. Here’s hoping the company continues to do all it can to protect its platform in the future.

How do you like Safety Scanner? Fill us in below in the comments. As always, alternatives to this software should be shared freely; everyone should learn from your knowledge.

Image credit: Bedrin Aleksandr via Shutterstock

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  1. Mub999
    May 8, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Malware bytes for the win

  2. Nat Jay
    May 8, 2011 at 5:45 am

    Hitman Pro works great for me as an alternative scanner.The idea behind Microsoft Safety Scanner sounds good but frequent re-downloading of a 70MB file every 10 days may get a little annoying after a while. I wish there were a smarter solution to this. Nevertheless, I'm willing to give it a try this time just to see the quality of scans.

    • Tina
      May 10, 2011 at 10:40 am

      Thanks for the input, Jay!

  3. Anonymous
    May 7, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    indeed, there should be a possibility to update, especially since it's >70MB download...

  4. Charles Rachor
    May 7, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    honestly the ability to update should be a basic "feature." nobody wants to re-download software every ten days.

    • jhpot
      May 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      I think this is intentional; they don't want people using this as their primary virus scanner. It's just supposed to be a tool you use every couple of years, when you get a really bad infection.