Have you ever wondered if you have hidden malicious software lurking within your computer? Maybe at times it is abnormally sluggish, constantly freezing, or you feel that something just doesn't feel right. If you start noticing some of these symptoms, your PC may very well be infected with viruses, trojans or worms.
Fortunately, with Windows 10, there's a free malware detection and extraction program called Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool.
Introduced way back in Windows Vista, this tool runs in the background, quietly scanning your system and will alert you if it detects any suspicious activity.
It is definitely a welcome tool but it has its limitations. By default, it only detects malware in "Quick Scan" mode when it's running automatically in the background.
For a much deeper scan, you may want to manually launch it and force it to run in "Full Scan" mode.
This is the recommended method if you want to verify that the tool is updated with the latest malware definitions or if you want to have a more thorough system scan.
Steps to launch a Full Scan on Windows 10:
1. To open Microsoft's built-in Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, click on the search bar, then type MRT.
2. Click the Best match, "mrt."
3. Click Yes on the User Account Control prompt.
4. When the tool opens, it will give you a chance to view all the malware it detects and removes, otherwise click "Next."
5. Since we want to run a deep scan, click off "Full scan" and click Next.
The scan will start and depending on your computer configuration and number of files, it may take quite a while to complete.
6. Once the tool completes, the "Scan results" will appear. If it detects the presence of malicious software, it will try and remove the instances automatically.
If your system is clean and the tool did not detect any instances, you can still review the malicious software it searched for by clicking "View detailed results of the scan."
Here are a few things to keep in mind when using this free tool:
- As stated by Microsoft, this tool will not replace anti-virus and security software since it doesn't offer real-time protection. MRT is more of a post-infection removal tool.
- It is only updated monthly with Microsoft's Windows Updates. Full anti-virus and security software get updates constantly.
- Unknown and emerging malware cannot be detected by this tool since it relies solely on Microsoft's list of detectable malicious applications.