Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
We have all used applications to try and fix up our computers. It goes back to the early 90’s and a little program called Norton Utilities. Then lots of other similar products showed up and yet Microsoft still did not feel the need to release one themselves – maybe they were just looking to help consultants like myself along with tons of work.
It looks like Microsoft has wised up a bit and offers a little service called OneCare Safety Scanner, it is located at http://safety.live.com. When I tell some people about it they roll their eyes and give me that look, you know the look that says I do not want to give Billy Gates anymore of my hard earned money! Well if that was the case you would not be reading this on MakeUseOf”¦ Are you following me?
Good! So long story short this is a free service that any authenticate version of XP or Vista can use to get a cleaning. It does not just look for spyware and viruses”¦
It also checks for registry mis-configurations and errors as well as other system issues like fragmentation. It will check on your firewall and antivirus programs as well. This program will also NOT let you shoot yourself in the foot. You will NOT be walking away with a busted computer when you are finished. Everything is un-doable via restore points as well. The one short fall of this application is that it MUST be run in Internet Explorer.
Let’s take a look at Microsoft’s Onecare Safety Scanner. Navigate on over to http://safety.live.com and you will see this. (I am working on a XP machine but I will show you what you need to do for your Vista machine as well.)
Simply click on the Full Service Scan button or you will see a link to the beta edition of the scanner for Vista (and possibly Windows 7!) It will start to download the scanning tools. This window will be in a pop-up so make sure pop-ups are enabled for this site or this instance. You will see a screen that looks like this below and you might get a security box asking you if it is alright to install the executable.
When the tools finish downloading you will be greeted by this screen:
I always choose the Complete Scan – it takes a bit longer but it will fix everything and even make sure your internet browsing experience is secure”¦. Or at least as secure as Microsoft Internet Explorer can be! You can find more information on which scan to choose by clicking on Help Me Choose or visiting this link here.
Once you start the scan it will start to download it’s scanning tools:
And then it will start initialing the scanners.
And finally it will start scanning your system. This can take a long time. I have had instances take up to 5 hours and I have had instances take less than 20 minutes. It all depends on how much crap you have on your system.
Once OneCare is done it will provide you with the results. In the instance below a virus was discovered and OneCare did a great job of cleaning it. My machine was recently de-fragmented and all my ports are straight so I did not see these items come up in my results but every machine is different!
I suggest scanning your machine before going to sleep and repairing it in the morning. Do you use OneCare? How about something similar? We would love to hear about it in the comments!