Here's how to augment your system's anti-virus software--for free.

Mat Lee, Contributor

August 26, 2011

2 Min Read

If you're using Windows, you need malware protection. Adding Microsoft's free Safety Scanner utility to your system beefs up security even more.

Head to the Microsoft Safety Scanner website. Click the button Download Now.

Select 32-bit or 64-bit--depending on your version of Windows. Select 32-bit if you're using Vista or earlier and you're not sure.

Safety Scanner does not have to be installed. That's what makes it such a great addition to the IT professional's thumb drive toolkit. Just right click and select Run as Administrator.

Accept the terms of the End User License Agreement (EULA) and click Next.

You are then presented with a description of what Safety Scanner is. It's not an anti-virus program, but rather a supplement to your current security utilities. (For more information check out Microsoft's security page.)

Next, select the type of scan you want to perform. Your options are Quick, Full, or Customized. I take security seriously. I'm especially careful with other people's computers. The first time I use this utility, I choose a full scan. After that, I use the quick scan option. Click Next.

A progress screen displays during the scan.

During my scan, Safety Scanner found potentially unwanted software. Click on the hyperlink to view what it found.

In my case, a scan found a hack tool. Check the box next to the listed malware and click OK.

To clean it up, click Next.

After the cleaning process is complete, you'll get the following message.

Here I pulled up a detailed report and found 15 malicious files. It shows the ones that were removed or partially removed and quarantined.

Microsoft Safety Scanner is a great supplement to your current anti-virus strategy.

You'll be glad you have it if your system is ever infected. Safety Scanner is also good for checking your current anti-virus software results.

One caveat to this utility. You need to download its virus definition update every 10 days. Otherwise, it expires.

Based in Kalispell, Montana, Mat Lee is a senior contributor at BYTE. Follow him @bytemat or email him at [email protected].

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