Scan for Malware with Microsoft Defender

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This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to scan for malware with Microsoft Defender, (previously Windows Defender)

Microsoft Defender Antivirus scans your computer regularly to keep your device safe from viruses and malware. The scan takes place while your computer is not being used or when it’s idle so not to interfere with your work.

You can also schedule Microsoft Defender to run during that time you defined and scan at a time and frequency that you choose.

This will mean less interference with your work.

Run Microsoft Defender on demand

When you’re concerned about risks to a specific file or folder, you can right-click the file or folder in File Explorer, then select Scan with Microsoft Defender.

This is much faster than running a full scan on all your files and folders.

Run a quick scan

If you suspect there’s malware or a virus on your computer, you can run a quick scan using Microsoft Defender. This is much faster than running a full scan on all your files and folders.

To do that, follow the steps below:

  • Select Start  > Settings  > Update & Security  > Windows Security  and then Virus & threat protection.
  • Under Current threats, select Quick scan (or in previous versions of Windows 10, under Threat history, select Scan now)

Run an advanced scan

You can run an advanced scan on your computer if you suspect it to be infected. To do that, follow the steps below:

  1. Select Start  > Settings > Update & Security  > Windows Security   and then Virus & threat protection.
  2. Under Current threats, select Scan options (or in previous versions of Windows 10, under Threat history, select Run a new advanced scan).
  3. Select one of the scan options:
    • Full scan (check files and programs currently running on your device)
    • Custom scan (scan specific files or folders)
    • Microsoft Defender Offline scan (run this scan if your device has been, or could potentially be, infected by a virus or malware).
  4. Select Scan now.

Schedule a scan

To schedule Microsoft Defender Antivirus program to only scan your computer at the time and frequency you choose, click Start => then search for Schedule tasks

Select Schedule tasks from the result listed on the menu.

When Schedule Tasks opens, in the left pane, expand Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows, and then scroll down and double-click (or press) the Windows Defender folder.

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In the top center pane, double-click (or press twice) Microsoft Defender Scheduled Scan.

This should open the task properties. In the Microsoft Defender Scheduled Scan Properties (Local Computer) window, select the Triggers tab, go to the bottom of the window, and then tap or click New.

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On the task setting pane, specify how often you want the scans to run and when you’d like them to start. This should always run on exact time you define here. But your computer must be powered on and running for this to work.

If your computer is shutdown, this task will fail to run

windows defender scan 2

The trigger above runs daily at 12AM and stops the task if it runs for more than 2 hours. You can configure more advanced settings like repeat every 1 or 4 or 8 hours. You can also delay the task randomly. but the basic settings should work fine.


This post showed you how to use Microsoft Defender to perform scan on your computer. If you find any error above, please use the form below to report.

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