Microsoft’s Free On-Demand “Safety Scanner” Released

From the better late than never department:

imageIt seems everyone has gotten into the – one shot – one time – malware scanner market – including Microsoft (finally), with the release of the Microsoft Safety Scanner.

Sophisticated computer users know, that depending on a single security application to provide a reliable “all clear- no malware” signal just doesn’t cut it – not with the huge number of new malware threats we’re exposed to every day.

Part of the layered security process (stacking security solutions, one on top of the other, to cover the gaps that exist in the protection capabilities of even the most sophisticated security applications), consists of supplementing the primary AV application with an on-demand scanner.

Since the Microsoft Safety Scanner is an on-demand application (it’s not designed to replace your installed AV), you’ll have no problems running it with your existing antivirus software. In fact, since Microsoft Safety Scanner is a stand-alone application and does not require installation, you can easily run it from a portable drive.


Here, I’ve chosen to run a full scan. As indicated, a quick scan and a user selected specified folder scan, are also available.


I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the progress bar – it’s not particularly accurate. Mind you, I’ve never seen an AV progress bar that was.


Full scan on 900,000+ files completed in 1 hour and 19 minutes.


Note: The Microsoft Safety Scanner expires 10 days after being downloaded. To rerun a scan with the latest anti-malware definitions, download and run the Microsoft Safety Scanner again.

System Requirements: Windows 7; Server 2003; Vista; XP.

Download at: Microsoft

Recommended free alternatives:

SUPERAntiSpyware: The free version of SUPERAntiSpyware despite it’s lack of real-time protection deserves its reputation as a first class security application, and it’s definitely worth considering adding to your security toolbox as a secondary line of defense.

BitDefender Free Edition is an on-demand virus scanner with powerful scan engines which ensures detection and removal of all viruses in the wild every time you need it. Best used in a system recovery or forensics role.

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware: Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has an excellent reputation (shared by me), as an outstanding security application, for its ability to identify and remove adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers, and other malware threats.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.


Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, BitDefender, downloads, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, Microsoft, Portable Applications, Software, SUPERAntiSpyWare, USB, Windows Tips and Tools

10 responses to “Microsoft’s Free On-Demand “Safety Scanner” Released

  1. Michael Fisher

    Hi Bill – given that there are many people who are not broadband connected. Why is

    …one shot – one time – malware scanner

    a good idea from the MS POV & the user POV ? To make my question clearer…

    Instead of DL’ing this every time it’s to be used why didn’t MS design it so the user can’t run it unless it has up-to-date definitions ? When the user tries to run it from a USB stick a message could pop up saying “x days out-of-date please click the link to update”

    I have a feeling I’m being thick here 🙂

    • Hi Michael,

      That’s a very good question – you’re not being thick.

      This tool is really designed as a portable app (an executable file only), and is (as far as I can tell), sort of a last resort before unpacking the heavy duty toolkit. I’ve heard it said that Microsoft doesn’t want outdated versions of this app and so, the 10 day expiration date – but I don’t buy that. I think it’s more about tethering users to MS.

      Still, for those who are conscious of the need to employ an alternative scanner, this is a suitable tool despite the hassle.



  2. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    If I am even remotely worried about an infection, I use Avira Rescue Cd. After reading one of your comments recently, I too run it once a week, just to be sure.

    • Hey Mal,

      That’s my preferred method as well. As you know, since this is a Linux boot CD, the bad stuff can’t load and as a consequence, it can’t hide. Much easier to locate and eradicate.

      Glad you brought this up.



  3. hipockets

    Hi, Bill!
    The Microsoft link you provided for Microsoft Safety Scanner led me to a blank screen at Microsoft. Here’s what worked for me:

    Since I live alone and my evil twin is not computer literate, I have never felt the need to use software to hide or encrypt sensitive files such as my credit card and bank statements. The thought just occurred to me- Wouldn’t this be an additional layer of security against malware? Guess I could both hide and encrypt such files . . . . .

    Currently, I’m using AVG free, Zone Alarm Free and Win Patrol. And thanks to you, I also have Zemana Key Logger, Immunet, and WOT running, with occasional on-demand use of SUPERAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware. I will be adding Microsoft Safety Scanner and BitDefender Free Edition based on today’s article.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. John

    Hi Bill,

    Perhaps this app is worthwhile, but my gosh, I was surprised at the size: a 74MB download! And to do this every 10 days? Only Microsoft would design it so foolishly. I think they’re behind the curve with this one.

    Has their been any benchmark testing of this app?


    • Hi John,

      I share the feeling – I was taken aback at the 74MB download.

      I haven’t seen any benchmark tests on Safety Scanner, but with a release date of mid April, I’m not surprised.



  5. hipockets

    Hi again . . .
    Just sharing my experience about Microsoft Safety Scanner and BitDefender…..

    The scan took 40 some hours on 200 gigs of hard drive space. MSS found 23 suspect files, but only listed 9. Of these, it removed 4, partially removed one, and only reported on 4. I could not find any of the 4 using the MS search function. I found 3 of the latter in the registry, using JV16, and deleted them. After backing up the registry, of course. Features in MSS that should be added is to list the location(s) and be able to go there by clicking on the entry. That would help in eliminating false positives. Other nice features would be to be able to select which drives to scan and to make suggestions……

    As a sidebar here, I cannot praise JV16 enough. In my opinion, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being excellent, I rate it as 10.9. I would rate it as a full 11 if it responded to voice commands….just kidding!

    I guess I screwed up when I installed BitDefender, because I wound up installing the full fledged free program. It installed 4 or 5 start up entries which, using Autoruns, could not be checked so as to not start up.

    Deciding to uninstall it, Revo Uninstaller Free hung up because, I think, BD tried to run a survey and I denied the cookie. I just denied the cookie several times; I did take the survey. I then deleted the remaining files manually and used JV16 to check the registry. There were 15 registry entries, and the permissions on 5 of them, in HK_Local-Machine, had to be changed so the entries could be manually deleted. Interestingly, the permissions could not be changed as Administrator. They could be changed as “Installing User”.

    In a way, the difficulty in uninstalling it impresses me. If I had that much trouble, the typical virus might, too.

    Just fyi. Keep up the good work.

    • Hey Hipockets,

      Thanks for this – I appreciate your time in creating such a complete report. I must admit that I would not have had the patience to wait for the results of a 40 hour scan.

      I don’t know much about JV16 but based on your reco, I’ve just downloaded the 60 day trial version. Looking forward to giving it a workout.