Clean Your PC with Microsoft’s OneCare Safety Scanner (Free)

Karl L. Gechlik 21-03-2009

onecare safety scanner 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 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 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.)

onecare microsoft


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.

onecare cleanup tool

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!

Related topics: Anti-Malware, Microsoft, Registry Cleaner.

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  1. Anonymous
    October 11, 2015 at 3:31 am

    I've downloaded the free windows 10 in there a microsoft pc cleaner that I can use for free? Most of them are a scam trying to get you to pay for them. I have a virus protection with Norton. Sandy

  2. SlipFox
    November 10, 2009 at 10:13 am


    "We’re sorry. This version of the Windows Live OneCare safety scanner doesn’t work with your Web browser or operating system."

    I am running Win Vista and IE 8 and I'm getting this message when wanting to run OneCare SS. Anybody know why?

  3. Web development lucknow
    September 15, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Thank you for providing this information.

  4. tim
    July 5, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Firefox will work with it if you add the IE add on (IE Tab)

  5. me
    March 29, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    so, i attempted to download this multiple times - even using ie. it did not work. the instructions were simple, as is generally the case. the problem was not readily apparent, which is also par for the course. i decided not to consult a bunch of websites to figure out how to use a 'simple, easy and free microsoft program!' this time. i think i should have known that this was a fruitless endeavor when it referred to switching from firefox to ie as an 'upgrade.'

  6. Kevin Reynolds
    March 24, 2009 at 9:49 am

    90 Day free trial? Here we go again. Google Earth can't connect. Yeah, it found problems, all related to internet explorer (no, I won't capitalize those). Exploring the GE issue I was told I had to make internet explorer my default browser. This is just microsoft trying to get you back under their umbrella. I cannot stand microsoft and if I could get my hard drive formatted properly I would be using Ubuntu right now. Same stuff, different day.

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      March 24, 2009 at 1:07 pm

      This is NOT a 90 day trial. It is FREE as in FREE BEER. They ALSO offer a installable service that continually monitors your system like a real time antivirus program would. This can be used as often as you like for the low low cost of FREE. You only have to pay if you want their constant protection.

      And on a different note - what problem are you having formatting your HD for Ubuntu? I am sure I can help with that!

  7. imoDOTcom
    March 24, 2009 at 12:25 am

    How is this different from Microsoft-sponsored WINDOWS DEFENDER?

    [Broken Link Removed]

    - imoDOTcom -

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      March 24, 2009 at 1:07 pm

      This is a one time run application as opposed to Defender that is an anti-spyware program that is constantly running.

  8. merik
    March 23, 2009 at 3:09 am

    We're sorry. This version of the Windows Live OneCare safety scanner doesn't work with your Web browser or operating system.

    with XP and FF 3.0.7
    Ill stick with CCleaner

    • Karl L. Gechlik |
      March 23, 2009 at 7:18 am

      It is a Microsoft product and requires Internet Explorer - FireFox does not work with it.

  9. 2dougmac
    March 22, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Ah, looked further at the "Download Page", with this little note found on the page -

    "Full subscription
    Get always-on protection and maintenance for up to 3 PCs for just $49.95 a year." is a great resource.


  10. 2dougmac
    March 22, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    It worked fairly quickly (less than 2 hours, with other windows and tabs open) but at the end, it indicated that it was a 90 day trial for free, unless subscribed to.

    Should I have subscribed to it? Are there any charges? After all, it is a Microsoft product.

  11. WebDesigner
    March 22, 2009 at 7:49 am

    i'll surely try this

    thanks for the article

  12. venkat
    March 22, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Why Microsft's Live one care still not got that much familiar ,where it is still behinds other security vendors.

  13. JacPat
    March 21, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Well, I ran it on my XP.. and it seemed to work. No viruses but 500 registry errors. (i install and uninstall a lot of stuff since i have a smaller hard drive and don't like having a ton of programs i'm not using) .. but yeah, i didn't have any problems with it. And my computer is still running. (which is good) In my books this on positive thing that microsoft has finally done. (with like a million negatives)

  14. Squealing Rat
    March 21, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Microsoft? Making a computer better? You must be joking!

  15. Richard
    March 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Neat...doesn't work with Vista and IE8 (and this was the Vista link).

    "We're sorry. This version of the Windows Live OneCare safety scanner doesn't work with your Web browser or operating system."

    • Karl L. Gechlik |
      March 23, 2009 at 7:17 am

      IE 8 is not compatible with OneCare - just yet. You will need to use IE 7 in the mean time.