Microsoft Security Essentials
Scanning Options

Microsoft Security Essentials is the 2nd of a 3-part tutorial series on Microsoft's Free Virus Removal Tool. Here we will look at things like:

  • What real-time protection is doing in the background

  • The Quick, Full and Custom scan options available

  • What to do if a virus is detected on your computer

If you do not use Microsoft's protection program, but are considering using it, take a look at Part 1, the Microsoft Free Anti Virus tutorial.

Part 1 tells you about:

  • The hardware requirements to run the program smoothly

  • Things to consider before install Microsoft Security Essentials

  • How to download and install Microsoft's Free Virus Protection program

If you already use Microsoft security Essentials take a look at Part 3, the Microsoft Virus Protection tutorial.

Part 3 tells you about:

  • How to configure Microsoft Free Virus Program (in my humble opinion) by looking at ALL of the setup options

  • How you can quickly determine whether the definition files are updating and protecting your home computer

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Scanning Options And
Virus Detection Actions

Real-time protection should be switched ON at all times! If this isn't the case, turn it on, NOW!. Real-time protection monitors your computer all the time for potential threats.

Part 3 Microsoft Virus Protection shows you the realtime protection options available to you. I setup for maximum protection, including:

  • Scan All Downloads. Although you may think the files and attachments you knowingly download over the web are safe, you can never be too careful

  • Monitor All Files. Monitors files and programs that start running on your computer. It also aims to captures any malicious programs that start running on your computer without your knowledge

  • Enable Behaviour Monitoring. New infections may not be officially recognised by Microsoft Security Essentials, but their behaviour may be indicative of malicious activity. The Virus protection program alerts you this suspicious activity when this option is enabled

  • Enable Network Inspection System. Protects against Zero Day exploits by ensuring the virus definition files that protects against such vulnerabilities is applied to your computer ASAP

The Microsoft Virus Protection program offers 3 Scan options: Quick, Full and Manual:


Microsoft Virus Protection Scan Options
(Click Image To Enlarge)

Microsoft Virus Protection Scan Options

  • Quick Scan: Scans key Operating System and Application files for any suspected files or file changes.

    The areas scanned are the most common areas targeted by Malware. When you first install Windows Security Essentials a quick scan is performed:

    Microsoft Security Essentials Quick Scan
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Microsoft Security Essentials Quick Scan

    As with all Scan Options, an alert is given if suspicious software is detected on your computer:

    Security Essentials Virus Detection
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Quick Scan Virus Detection

    When any scan is in progress, the System tray icon depicts a CD spinning inside the blue castle:

    Security Essentials System Tray Scan

    MSE System Tray Scan

    When the Scan is completed click the red Clean Computer Button to remove the threat. You can also click the Show Details link to find out more about the threat:

    Microsoft Security Essentials Computer Status At Risk
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Computer Status At Risk

    Details include the Virus Name, a Description of what the virus does and a Recommended Action to deal with the threat. Recommended actions include:

    1. Remove: Instruction to remove the offending program immediately

    2. Quarantine: Stops the suspect program from running until you decide whether to Allow or Remove. In Windows XP the quarantined program file are located in:

      C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\ Microsoft\Microsoft Antimalware\Quarantine\

      In Microsoft Windows 7 the quarantined program file are located in:

      C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Microsoft Antimalware\Quarantine

    3. Allow: Allow a known program wrongly identified as a threat to continue running normally
    In the example below I choose Remove from the Recommended Action drop-down menu then click the Apply Actions Button:

    Microsoft Security Essentials: Virus Removal Options
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Virus Removal Options

    After you click the Apply Actions Button Security Essentials will begin the process of removing the infection:

    Virus Removal Actions
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Virus Removal Actions

    Once the threat is removed you will see a green message saying Your Actions Were Applied Successfully. Click the Close Button:

    Virus Removed Successfully
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Virus Removed Successfully

    To initiate another Quick Scan, click the Quick radio button then click the Scan Now button. If you computer is clear of any threats you will see the following screen:


  • Quick Scan Complete
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Quick Scan Complete

  • Full Scan: Scans every single file, folder and program you have running on your computer. This is a thorough scan that can take some time to complete.

    The time it takes depends on several factors including the capability of your computer hardware components and the number of hard drives, files and folders you have.

    A Full Scan is selected in the same way as a Quick Scan.

  • Custom Scan: Enables you to select specific Drives or Folders to scan. A full scan is then performed on your choices:

    Microsoft Security Essentials: Full Scan Options
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Microsoft Security Essentials Full Scan Options

    When you choice of scan is completed and real-time protection is On, and the virus definitions are up to date, the system tray icon will be green with a white tick in it.

    Computer Status Protected Icon

    System Tray Computer Status Protected

    This is a convenient way for you to know they everything is OK. A red icon with a white cross tells you there is a problem, e.g. definitions file is out of date, or you have an infection.


  • Computer Status Not Protected Icon

    System Tray Computer Status Not Protected

  • It is also worth noting that you can scan individual files and folders by Right Clicking and selecting Scan With Microsoft Security Essentials... From the resulting menu:


  • Microsoft Virus Protection Right Click Menu Option
    (Click Image To Enlarge)

    Right Click Menu Option

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Final Thoughts

The Microsoft Virus Protection tutorial is the final part of the Microsoft Security Essentials series. Take a look and review your own setup!

It is important you keep the virus protection program up to date with the latest virus definition files.

If you prefer to update manually rather than through Microsoft XP Updates take a look at this Lifehacker (Opens New Window) tutorial.



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