How to check (scan) your Windows PC for malware

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Malware refers to software that is designed to obstructs or interfere with the regular functioning if a computer system. Due to the rise is these disruptive programs you must know how to check (scan) your Windows PC for malware or viruses.

Windows security | How to check for viruses

You can scan your Windows PC for malware if you think it might be infected or just as a periodic digital cleanup and software maintenance. To check for viruses, you don’t necessarily have to pay to install or even download any third-party software.

Windows Security is a security tool that is built into the Windows Operating System to prevent, detect, protect from and guard against any malicious or suspicious program.

Today, as opposed to a few years back, Microsoft Windows Security Tools can be rated neck-and-neck with well known and revered antivirus and anti-malware programs.

You could not name Microsoft’s anti-malware tools among the likes of Kaspersky and Avast. These are brands that, if mentioned in the same sentence with any built-in Windows Antivirus program, we could say it is low stoop.

However, for independent test of effectiveness, Windows Security blocks out 99.7% of threats it come along, making it as good as they come.

How to check for viruses

Opening Windows Security to Check (Scan) Your Windows PC for Malware on Windows 11

If you are using Windows 11 and want to check for viruses or scan your Windows PC for malware (which is technically the same thing), it is quite basic.

Related article: 15 Best Antivirus Software That Takes away Your Fears.

Open the Windows Security:

Step 1: On the Start Menu search, type in ‘Windows Security.’

Step 2: Click the find as it appears, and it will open up.

Another way to open it is:

Step 1: Click ‘Settings’ from the Start Menu

Step 2: Locate and click the ‘Privacy and Security’ icon.

Step 3: Locate and click ‘Windows Security.’

Step 4: When you have clicked the Windows Security icon, you will have an overall view of your systems security status.

Step 5: Click the ‘Open Windows Security’ option to access the full Windows Security app.


How to Check for Viruses/Check (Scan) Your Windows PC for Malware

As a default function, Windows Security will run and check for viruses automatically in the background. It does this in attempt to quickly block off and arrest suspicious files that try to make way into your Windows PC.

But, it is important that you also check by performing periodic scans on your Windows PC for malware.

For a Quick Scan

Step 1: Locate and click ‘Windows Security’

Step 2: From the open window, click ‘Virus and Threat Protection.’

Step 3: After that, click the ‘Quick scan’ icon from the next window.

You might prefer to do a more thorough check for viruses on your Windows PC as opposed to a quick scan.

If you want to perform a more detailed check for malware on your Windows PC, you can run a full scan.

For a Full Scan

Step 1: Follow the same steps 1 and 2 for performing a quick scan

Step 2: Locate and click ‘Scan options.’

Step 3: Now click on ‘Full scan.’

When you perform a full scan, it will take more time because it will check, not only, the regularly used apps, but also all the files, used and unused program and even the running apps.

Check for viruses

Actions After Scan for Viruses/Malware

If Windows detects malware, after the scan, it will list them out and display them on the app. You will have the option to perform an action on them, which include to remove them, ignore or quarantine them.

Click on ‘Start Actions’ options to kick off the process of removing them from your computer or any other action your have selected.

However, if there were no viruses found after the check, a report on the duration of the scan, files scanned and time of the scan will appear for your information.

Staying on Top of Threats of Malware and Viruses

It is vital that in order to keep your Windows PC protected from malware, you must ensure;

  • your Windows Security is always up to date, and
  • your Windows Security is set to always automatically scan in the background

To ensure your Windows Security is always checking for viruses in the background:

Step 1: Go to ‘Windows Security.’

Step 2: Locate and click ‘Virus and Teat Protection.’

Step 3: Locate and click ‘Virus and Threat Protection Settings.’

Step 4: On that window, click the ‘Manage Settings’ option.

Step 5: If it is off, toggle on the ‘Real-time Protection’ setting.


To ensure that your Windows PC is using the updated and most recent antivirus:

Step 1: Click ‘Windows Security.’

Step 2: Click on ‘Virus and threat Protection.’

Step 3: Then, click the ‘Virus & threat protection settings.’

Step 4: Choose the ‘Manage Settings’ option

Step 5: If it’s toggled off, turn on the ‘Cloud-delivered protection’ toggle button.

Manual Windows Security Update

Windows automatically updates it’s software regularly. But in case you want to do that manually, you can locate ‘Settings.’

On the ‘Settings’ window, locate and go to ‘Windows Update.’ When the ‘Windows Update’ window opens, click the ‘Check for Updates’ button. To bypass this process, you can simply type ‘Check for updates’ in the Windows 11 Start Menu search bar. It will take you directly to the ‘Windows Update’ window.

How to check for viruses

How to Check for Viruses on Older Windows Versions

If it is the most recent version of Windows 10 your are using, then the process to check (scan) your Windows PC for malware is essentially the same as that on Windows 11.

For older versions of Windows 10, the process overall will be the same, however, it is the Windows Defender Security Center application that is built-in other than the new Windows Security.

Signs and Symptoms of Viruses or Malware on Your Windows PC

Malware and viruses can appear in different forms, but commonly, certain traits on your computer could be a sign or symptom of a virus infection.

For instance: You boot your computer after a previous days use and suddenly notice that your wallpaper, file folder or certain icons appearances have changed without your permission, you need to run a check for viruses.

Other cases could be that your PC begins dragging in speed, the heat level at which it is running is higher than usual, queer pop-ups and notifications keep appearing at intervals.


More Reasons to Check (Scan) Your Windows PC for Malware

1. Threat detected by Windows

When Windows notifies your of a possible virus by saying it has found a threat to your PC, more often, it has handled the issue.

Despite curbing the threat, you should check the notification to be absolutely sure. With the positivity of advancement in technology, obnoxiousness comes along with it. There are some malware, particularly those that appear as web ads, that pose as antivirus notifications so that you tap on them to open and infect your PC.

2. Double-check flagged files

An antivirus program can wrongly flag and remove certain which you don’t consider a threat. If this happens, you can get the files back. But, just because you don’t think it’s a malicious file, maybe because it was sent to you by a trusted one, it is not enough to be totally sure that the files is not malicious.

Some malware can alter peoples emails, duplicate itself and send it’s copies to everyone saved as a contact.

So, before you retrieve a flagged or deleted file, it is wise to scan that file thoroughly and ask the sender (if its a mail or otherwise) to be sure it’s from them.

To restore a file that was flagged:

From ‘Windows Security,’ go to Virus and threat protection, and then ‘Protection history.’ You can view any suspicious files Windows Security identified, plus their level of threat.

Next, click on the file, and then click ‘Actions’ option, which gives you access to the ‘Allow’ option.

On the Protection history window you can view details about a virus or malware that was found. Information such as the location it was found, and the type of virus it is can be known.

When you decide to reverse the flagging of your file, it will returned to your computer if it was on ‘Quarantined’ status.

But if your Windows Security removed it, you will have to copy or download it again.

When you go to ‘Windows Security— Virus & threat protection—Allowed threats, you will be able to see a list of files that were arrested but you’ve allowed to be on your computer.

If you now see any as a threat indeed, delete it again by clicking on it, then choosing the ‘Don’t allow’ option.

3. Files Refuse to be Deleted

Some viruses or malware appear to remain as much as you try to delete them from your computer. Windows Security provides a special version of its antivirus/anti-malware scan to check for viruses:

Follow the procedure from Windows Security—Virus & threat protection—and Scan options. From here click ‘Microsoft Defender Offline scan.’

You can then click Scan now,’ and your PC will reboot into a unique mode to run the virus scan. When the scan is completed, your PC will reboot once again to the regular Windows screen.

Take note: If your computer stays locked after rebooting, or you happen to begin receiving notifications to send money to someone to unlock it, quicky get an IT expert.

How to check for viruses

Other Ways to Check (Scan) Your Windows PC for Malware

The only other way to check for viruses on your computer is by using third-party anti-malware applications.

As much as Windows Security does quite well at preventing, controlling and protecting your PC from viruses, malware, and suspicious files, it can’t solve every issue related to this. For example, the built-in tools in Windows 11 can’t shield you from email phishing scams or scam ads in your browser.

So, for additional functions and tools, away from the Windows Security, you can try anti-malware suites. The likes of AVG, Nord VPN, Kaspersky or Hide My WP Ghost are a few on that step above the standard security of Windows.

To know the particular tools and features you might need or looking out for, you can go over a few reviews which will give you a proper idea of what you might be interested in. Now, to the dangers of running more than one anti-malware systems, Windows has got you covered.

Microsoft’s built-in solution turns off automatically it detects another antivirus installed and active on your computer. When you uninstall the other antivirus app, Microsoft Windows Security will come back on automatically.

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