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Published on 09.17.09 by Brent Trahan

How to Use the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

Learn how to use the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool to find and remove the most common malicious software (viruses).

Note: The Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool is not meant to replace antivirus software. It is meant to be a post-infection removal tool.

Where can I download the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool?

The easiest way to download the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool is to install the latest Windows Updates. If your computer is up to date with its Windows Updates it already has the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool.

How to scan my computer for viruses using the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool?

The Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool can be used using the user interface (UI) or the command line.

Scan your computer using the UI

  1. Start the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool by typing mrt in the Start Menu’s search box and then press Enter on your keyboard.
  2. Click Next in the welcome screen.

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  3. Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool can scan your computer three ways:

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    Quick scan: It only scans areas malicious software is most likely to be found. If it finds malicious software it will prompts you to run a full scan.

    Full scan: It will scan your entire computer for malicious software. This can take several hours to complete. Mapped drives will not be scanned.

    Customized scan: It will scan a folder of your choice along with a quick scan.

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    Pick the type of scan you want to run and then click Next.

  4. If malicious software is found you’ll be prompted to remove it.
  5. Click Finished when the Microsoft Malicious Software Security tool is done.

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Scan your computer using the command line

The Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool can also be used through the command line.

  1. Open the command prompt with administrative rights by going to Start, All Programs, Accessories, right-click Command Prompt, and then choose Run as administrator.
  2. Type mrt followed by these switches and then press Enter.

    /Q or /quiet quiet mode; if set, no user interface is shown
    /? or /help displays usage information
    /N detect-only mode
    /F force full scan
    /F:Y same as above, but automatically clean infected files

Examples:

Hint: I noticed if you type mrt followed by a switch without using the /Q or /quiet switch it won’t automatically start scanning your computer.

Quick scan: mrt /Q

Full scan: mrt /Q /F

Full scan w/automatic removal: mrt /Q /F:Y

Schedule Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool to Regularly Scan Your Computer

I’m going to show you how to schedule the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool to periodically perform a full scan of your computer and automatically remove any malicious software it finds. This will only work if the user account you are logged in with is password protected.

  1. Open the Task Scheduler by going to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and open Task Scheduler.
  2. Click Create Basic Task in the right column of the Task Scheduler.

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  3. Give the new task a name and then click Next.

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  4. In this example I’m setting it to scan daily. You can choose differently but the next few steps may be a little different. Click Next.

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  5. Set the time of day to scan and then click Next.

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  6. Select to Start a program and then click Next.

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  7. Type mrt in the Program/script box, type /Q /F:Y in the Add arguments (optional) box, and then click Next.

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  8. Check off Open the Properties dialog for this task when I click Finish and then click Finish.

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  9. Check off Run with highest privileges and then click OK.

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That’s it! The Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool will silently scan and remove malicious software from your computer daily.

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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