If you’ve downloaded a file and are not sure you can trust it before opening it, did you know you can use Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) to scan it for viruses without running a full virus scan? MSE lets you do this and it can help give you peace of mind before opening an unknown file.
This feature can be particularly useful if you’re opening a file from removable media (CD, DVD, external HDD etc.) and MSE’s real-time virus checker has not had a chance to do a preliminary scan at the file yet. If you’ve turned off real-time virus scanning, this will also help you avoid virus infection.
Caution: Even if a virus checker doesn’t detect a virus, never open a file from an untrusted source.
Realizing I didn’t have an infected file to use for this guide, I went to the source of many viruses: a torrent tracker and grabbed a copy of “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom v3.2″ (don’t worry, I promptly deleted it.)
Scan an File/Folder for Viruses
1. If you don’t already have it installed, download and install Microsoft Security Essentials (learn more about MSE.)
2. Open up Windows Explorer (Winkey+E) and browse to the directory that contains the file/folder you want to scan
3. Right click the file or folder and click Scan with Microsoft Security Essentials…
4. Hopefully your journey ends here and you’re informed the file is clean. If however, the file is infected, continue to the next section.
Remove a Virus with Microsoft Security Essentials
If MSE has detected an infected file, you should delete it immediately.
1. Upon notice of an infected file, click Clean Computer
2. MSE will clean the file from your PC:
3. After the file is clean, you may Close MSE
4. You’re almost done… once you’ve detected a virus on your PC:
- Notify others who may also have the file (did this file come via email?)
- If you run backups, make sure the file is removed from your backups
- If the file came from optical media i.e. CD/DVD, destroy the disc, if possible, to avoid future infection
- Inform the distributor of the file that it’s compromised and should not be shared
If the Virus Can’t be Deleted…
If you’ve followed the steps above but still can’t delete the file, please start a topic in Windows Forums and we’ll help you solve the issue. Beware that some viruses can help identity thieves get your personal information. If you know that a virus is running free on your computer, it might be wise to invest in a LifeLock account as a preventative measure against identity theft. But keep checking back with the Windows Forums, because there aren’t many problems that remain unsolved for long!