Scan for Viruses With Security Essentials

Protect your PC from malware

If there is one thing you ought to do often, it is to ensure that your Windows 7 PC with its priceless files is free of malware. The only way to do this is using an antivirus application that will help find and get rid of malware on your computer.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 7.

As of January 2020, Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7. We recommend upgrading to Windows 10 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.

How to Scan Your Windows PC for Viruses and Other Malware

Malware is any type of software that attempts to cause harm to your or the computer. Variants include viruses, trojans, keyloggers and more.

Alert message of virus detected.
eriksvoboda / Getty Images

To ensure that your computer is safe you need to employ an anti-malware solution like Microsoft's free Security Essentials application (the software is free for users that have a genuine and validated copy of Windows Vista and 7).

Although you should be scheduling Security Essentials to regularly scan your PC, you should run a manual scan whenever you suspect that something's wrong with your PC. Sudden sluggishness, strange activity, and random files are good indicators.

  1. To open Microsoft Security Essentials, right-click the Security Essentials icon in the Notification Area on the Windows 7 Taskbar and click Open from the menu that appears.

    If the icon is not visible, click the small arrow that expands the Notification Area, which displays hidden icons; right-click the Security Essentials icon and click Open. Alternatively, type "essentials" in the Start search box and choose Microsoft Security Essentials.

    Security Essentials in taskbar
  2. When the Security Essentials window opens, you will notice that there are various tabs and several options.

    For the sake of simplicity, we are going to focus on performing a scan only, if you wish to update Security Essentials, follow these instructions.

    Screenshot of Microsoft Security Essentials
  3. In the Home tab, you will find several statuses, Real-time protection, and Virus and spyware definitions. Make sure both of these are set to On and Up to date, respectively.

    The next thing you will notice is a reasonably large Scan now button and to the right, a set of options that will determine the type of scan. The possibilities are as follows:

    • Quick - This scan will be fast, and on the surface, so you may not be able to find those viruses or other malware lurking deep in the file structure.
    • Full - The Full scan is the best option if you have not scanned your Windows computer for viruses in a while.
    • Custom - This option allows you to set specific parameters like where you want to scan and the level of the scan. Itis an excellent option if you have an external hard drive or a memory key you wish to scan along with any other drives attached to the computer.

    We recommend you perform that Full scan if you have not scanned your computer in a while or if you recently updated the virus definitions.

    Microsoft Security Essentials settings.
  4. Once you have selected the type of scan you wish to perform, select the Scan now button and plan on taking some time away from the computer.

    You could continue to work on the computer. However, performance will be slower, and you will slow down the scan process as well.

    Selecting Scan now.
  5. Once the scan is complete, you will be presented with a Protected status for the PC if the scan didn't find anything. If it does find malware, Security Essentials will do what it can to get rid of the malware files on your computer.

    Screenshot of scan results

The key to keeping your computer secure and healthy is always to have the latest virus definitions for whatever antivirus application you are using and to perform virus scans regularly.