Microsoft recently announced the availability of an online scanner to check your system for issues such as virus infections, spyware and malware.  This new service is called the Microsoft Safety Scanner and although it has not been said directly by anyone at Microsoft that I have seen this service seems to be the obvious replacement for the now defunct Windows Live OneCare Online scan service.

Before I show you the process for utilizing the scanner on your PC a couple of points on this scanning software. 

First, the online description is not totally accurate.  You must be online to download a 70MB file that will contain the scanning engine and updated signatures to detect the viruses and malware but this is not an online service where you scan your system in a browser window.  The download is required to use the software.

Secondly, the file you download today will expire after 10 days and force you to grab another 70MB download so you have the most up to date scanning signatures.  Without recent signatures the scanning engine is useless of course so this makes total sense.

Thirdly, read the text carefully at the beginning dialog – the software will remove the infections as part of the scanning process – it does not appear that you will be given an option to not remove the bad stuff.  Actually, who would want that on their system anyway right?

The last thing about this scanner is there is no conflict with any anti-virus/anti-malware software that is already installed on your system.  Feel free to run this alongside of your current scanning software.  Of course, my preference is Microsoft Security Essentials which is free from Microsoft and works very well for me on all of our systems.

So to get started you need to visit the Microsoft Safety Scanner website where you will find some important information.


This is a real no frills website that provides you three key areas of information:


You can click here to start your safety scanner software download while you look at the rest of the page.


No this is not the list of viruses on your PC!  These are links however to information on the top identified threats to desktop systems.  Good educational information.


This is a list of additional help and other resource links to several Microsoft security related websites as well as information relating to the Microsoft Safety Scanner software such as privacy policy, system requirements, etc.


The last segment of information on the safety scanner web page is additional Microsoft software to help protect you and your system.  Those items will take you direct to those pages so you can access the software and learn more.

OK so once you have your safety scanner software downloaded then your ready to begin.  First thing is to locate your downloaded safety scanner file which is named msert.exe and click on it to get the process started.


Standard one each End User License Agreement or EULA.  Click the box to accept the terms and click Next to move forward.


Once you get to this page you are just a couple of clicks from starting the scanning process on your system.


Here is where you must decide on how to use the scanner and the choices are self explanatory and each take varying lengths of time depending upon your own unique PC setup, speed, memory, etc.


If you opt to do a quick scan and also check a specific directory then this is the dialog you will use to select that extra directory to be scanned.


Once you push the Next button after choosing your scanning method the scan process beings and you can keep track by seeing the file being currently scanned, how many files have been scanned so far, how many new infections were found, the start time and the elapsed time for the scan.


Here is the scan still in progress.  Let me give you a warning though about that green bar.  Most of the time we expect the end of any process to be when that green bar reaches the end of its line.  Well, imagine my surprise as I prepared to move on as the green bar reached the end and recycled back to the beginning and continued scanning!  Just a small UX/UI error/issue.


Once the safety scanner has checked out all of your files you will arrive at this final screen unless you had an infection of some type and then you would get a report that would summarize the infections that were removed from your system.

Once you hit the Finish button your all done and there is no additional software left behind on your system except the 70MB file you downloaded to begin the process.  You can either leave that and use it again within 10 days or remove and download an updated copy next time you need to scan your system.

I think this will be a great tool for people who work on PC’s to scan a computer system with out having to worry about installing software to do it.  I know my plan is to use it when I am asked to check out systems for family, friends and clients.

How will you put this new tool to use?