Gizmos Needs You

Gizmo's Freeware is Recruiting

 We are looking for people with skills or interest in the following areas:
 -  Mobile Platform App Reviews for Android and iOS
 -  Windows, Mac and Linux software reviews       Interested? Click here



Microsoft Launches Free On-Demand Virus/Malware Scanner

Microsoft has launched a new, free virus/malware scanner, that's designed to be used if you think your computer might be infected.

The program is called the Microsoft Safety Scanner.  To use it, download the file from and then run it on your PC.  The app is portable, so doesn't need an installer.  When you run it, it will analyze your computer and detect, and remove, many of the most prevalent viruses.

Microsoft points out that this on-demand tool is not a substitute for a proper on-access antivirus product.  It's simply designed to be used in emergencies, such as if you think your computer may have a problem that has managed to sneak past your existing defences.  Also, note that the program automatically expires after 10 days, so if you want to run it regularly you'll need to keep downloading the latest version.

At first glance, Safety Scanner is a welcome addition to Microsoft's range of free security tools, of which its Security Essentials suite is probably the best known.  But at 67 MB for the download, for a program that expires after 10 days, we can't work out why it needs to be so huge.  McAfee offers a similar product, which is also free, called Stinger.  It doesn't expire after 10 days, can be downloaded from, and runs to just a 7.7 MB download.




Share this
Average: 4.4 (23 votes)
Your rating: None


by Toad (not verified) on 30. April 2011 - 2:31  (71148)

Why would I need ANY of this, if I use a sandbox? Hmmm? Got ya there!

by MidnightCowboy on 30. April 2011 - 7:09  (71156)

Sandbox technology is a highly effective security layer but not impregnable. All products have suffered some degree of compromise during their life cycle and indeed some malware is specifically designed to react differently when it finds itself in a sandboxed environment. In 1941, a very famous French general said "Soldiers who remain within their fortress are already beaten".

by manu (not verified) on 25. April 2011 - 7:51  (70860)

As far as online scanners goes F-Secure is the best:

by MidnightCowboy on 25. April 2011 - 8:06  (70861)

Why would this one be better than Norton, BitDefender, Trend Micro or others?

by budchekov on 23. April 2011 - 14:18  (70777)

ESET (NOD32)have an excellent 'on line' scanner, with custom/advanced options.
When the scan's finished an option to uninstall the scanner with all its components is presented.

by Amiga4evA (not verified) on 23. April 2011 - 10:45  (70766)

I'm a bit of a n00b, so please don't flame me for my ignorance.

It seems to me there is no such thing as a "perfect" anti-virus program, from what I've been able to gather some programs have a better detection rate on certsin types of malware than others, so what would be the harm of running the MS effort then running another afterwards to doublecheck or pick up on stuff the others might have missed (okay, there is the time element I suppose), but better safe than sorry IMHO.

by MidnightCowboy on 23. April 2011 - 11:25  (70767)

By far the best strategy is not to go to places where malware inhabit to start with. You can go a long way towards achieving this without even considering what an anti-virus program might be able to do for you. This involves DNS filtering and web site rating aids, which I discussed here earlier.

by kcs3295 (not verified) on 22. April 2011 - 14:32  (70697)

The best I have ever seen is Kapersky Rescue CD, usually a 200+ meg download. Runs in a safe mode type environment and offers to upgrade before running. It found a hidden partition that was password protected being a trojan. This laptop had been to 2 pc shops & even a fresh install of the XP Pro OS - which of course did no good as there was a hidden partition and was auto-run. Possibly also script embeded in a chipset driver. The cd drive and network support was locked in the bios so booting anyway except from the HD was not possible. I didn't try a bootable usb drive because it did not show in the bios eventhough there was 4 usb 2.0 ports. Kapersky ISO cd did boot to its' safe mode. The cd drive was still disabled in the registry. Kapersky, if you are reading this - please add this script to your wonderful application.

I found the user account with a special account # as is usual with remote accounts such as the oem and microsoft support. Group Policy permissions were locked & had to be changed. I removed it without a fresh OS install and did a disk wipe of the free space, then many defrags to completely overright the data, then new drivers.

The worst I have ever seen. Thank You Kapersky for a very fine discovery & removal tool. And the best part - it's free. Otherise, the 3 gig cpu wide screen laptop ran like a T model Ford & was not much more than a paperweight.


by Anonymouse (not verified) on 30. April 2011 - 8:11  (71162)

Yeah, Kasp Rescue Disk is great. Unless you're running a RAID. In which case it will wipe your drives clean.

IOW, stay the hell away from KRD.

by Redmaledeer (not verified) on 21. April 2011 - 21:21  (70676)

If I read the fine print correctly, MS Safety Scanner removes items it doesn't like without asking the user, and without saving them in some sort of quarantine from which they could be retrieved. Is that correct? If it is, that's enough for me not to use it. I thoroughly dislike programs that erase my files or registry entries without letting me decide whether that's a good thing.

by AJNorth on 21. April 2011 - 17:45  (70663)

Both Trend Micro's venerable "HouseCall," and Symantec's "Norton Security Scan," provide free scans for Windows boxes that are useful adjuncts to installed protection (and such highly-regarded stand-alone on-demand scanners as Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware, and SUPERAntiSpyware, - both reviewed, and recommended, at this site).

by mrfingerz on 21. April 2011 - 16:12  (70661)

Anything that can assist in malware detection/removal can only be viewed as a positive. Nice to see Microsoft being more pro-active in this respect.

by chesscanoe (not verified) on 21. April 2011 - 14:48  (70656)

I ran a full scan yesterday using tool. I wonder how the new Microsoft Safety Scanner may be better, or at least complementary to Microsoft Malicious Software Tool I referenced. MSS took 10 minutes to run a Quick Scan on my Win7 x64 SP1 PC. MMST took over two hours for a complete scan. This is obviously an apples to oranges comparison. I'd like to see someone do a proper evaluation of both.

by IronPlatypus on 21. April 2011 - 15:09  (70659)

I was researching this tool and found this:

"The Malicious Software Removal Tool has specific malicious targets whereas the Microsoft Safety Scanner targets not only the same specifically targeted malicious programs as the Malicious Software Removal Tool, but also targets the same viruses, spyware, and other malicious software included in Microsoft Security Essentials and Microsoft Forefront."

by ouman77 (not verified) on 21. April 2011 - 13:58  (70654)

I'm too old to learn how to use Linux, but I'm wondering why MS has to put out so many "fixes" to it's (?) "perfect OS", which seems to resemble a sieve with its numerous security holes/fixes. How "perfect" is it?? - Linux just works, without the multitude of fixes that MS Operating Systems need. Is this new offering another cover up for their inadequate programming?

by MidnightCowboy on 21. April 2011 - 19:17  (70672)

You're never too old or too young for Linux. In fact I wrote a minor review for a version aimed at two year olds a short time ago.

Try this version of Mint:

Follow Jojo's excellent guide:

...and have fun!

Runs from a live CD/DVD without affecting your Windows installation.

by Joseph Betz (not verified) on 21. April 2011 - 18:36  (70669)

While I both love and hate all Operating Systems, I do have ones I use and ones I don't.

Microsoft OSes have holes just like all OSes have holes. It's just that, as another responder pointed out, there's more money to be made and more systems that will be affected by exploiting Microsoft OS weaknesses.

As for "Linux just works"...

Every day, every Linux distro I have used nags me to update this and patch that, exactly the way Windows does. It "just works" - until it doesn't. Same as a Mac, and every bit as easy to fix once it decides to stop working.

I'm just thankful that OS vendors DO update and patch, that the process is _almost_ not painful, and that they don't play games like "oh, you wanna patch the security hole we wrote into our TCP/IP stack? $50 bucks please."

by grimbles on 21. April 2011 - 18:05  (70668)

An analogy:

Microsoft is a large shop which involves huge daily cash takings. Linux is a small corner store with a very minimal cash turnover.

Now, considering the risks involved would be near enough to identical, which one of those establishments do you think the thieves are most likely to target? And which do you think might need to be more concerned with security??

Because the end result will always be much more profitable, increased security will not prevent the thieves from still attempting to rob the Microsoft store, sometimes successfully....where there is a will there is a way.


Cheers all....Jim

by MidnightCowboy on 21. April 2011 - 19:09  (70671)

It also might be something to do with the fact that Linux comes with a locked cash drawer as standard. With Microsoft most folks choose to run with the drawer open :)

by Sam Cox (not verified) on 21. April 2011 - 12:58  (70651)

What does Microsoft Safety Scanner do that Spybot - Search & Destroy or Malwarebytes Anti-Malware doesn't?

by J_L on 21. April 2011 - 23:13  (70678)

Detect all kinds of malware. Malwarebytes' only focus on recent and prevalent threats, while Spybot's detection rate is horrid.

by Jimbo (not verified) on 21. April 2011 - 12:43  (70650)

You should think about why this software was released before flaming MS. As stated in the article, this is NOT intended to be used as an AntiVirus solution. If the software did not expire after 10 days then how many people would keep using it instead of proper protection? Microsoft supply the fairly good MS Security Essentials for free to cater for that. Its a smart move in my opinion.

I work in the IT department of a large company (40+ offices). A good virus (good as in well written, there's never a good one) will try to stop you from removing it. I have seen them block MS updates, stopped Fsecure AV from running at start-up. Block websites relating to all known AV publishers. That's why you need a standalone solution that does not need to go on the internet to download updates and definitions.

Get a grip, 67MB is nothing nowadays. Chuck your dial up modem in the bin and get broadband. I'm no fan of Microsoft either but they have been doing excellent work recently with AV and whatever you say, this is another useful tool to tackle a virus.

by Anonymousalso (not verified) on 21. April 2011 - 12:21  (70648)

Typical MS suck you in and then make you pay. tut.tut

by Festeron (not verified) on 21. April 2011 - 17:23  (70667)


by J_L on 20. April 2011 - 23:32  (70630)

It expires after 10 days, because you can't update the definitions from the program. That is included in the download, which is regularly updated.

Stinger has far less definitions, and only search for the most common malware. I believe you can't update signatures as well with it. The download is updated less regularly.

A better comparison would be with Kaspersky Virus Removal, Dr.Web CureIt!, etc.