There have been significant changes to the way the Windows operating system handles anti-virus over the years. Windows 8 was the first operating system to come packaged with built-in Windows Defender—Microsoft’s answer to anti-virus programs that were developed by third-party companies. Before Windows 8 was around, people would pick and choose anti-virus from other businesses based on reviews they read online and recommendations from other people from the computer shops that sold them heir software. Like Windows 8, Windows 10 comes with the built-in Windows Defender program as well, so nobody has to worry about soughting after virus protection.

Windows Defender should do a decent enough job of keeping your computer safe from malware as long as you keep it up to date. If you open up the Windows Defender user interface and check it’s scan history, you’ll hardly notice it picking up anything. That’ll likely be due to Microsoft choosing to keep most of the things it does detect private, so you don’t get concerned about the amount of rubbish around the internet. That’s not just an opinion of ours either. If you were to use any of the other primary anti-virus programs out there, you’d quickly notice a lot more potentially dangerous infections showing up after the scan in the scan results.

Over the years, most people who were infected with malware or malicious files would just boot the computer into Safe Mode and then run a scan with the anti-virus to get the computer working again and free from the malicious programs. Sometimes the anti-virus isn’t capable of removing malicious programs, though. For those times, you’ll need something else.

Those who haven’t been introduced to the Malicious Software Removal Tool probably don’t realize that Microsoft has this tool already built into Windows operating systems to aid people in getting rid of malware if the anti-virus didn’t prevent it from getting on the computer/if the antivirus isn’t getting rid of the malware for you.

The Malicious Software Removal Tool, otherwise known as MSRT for short, has been a trusted and reliable program for Windows operating systems for a long time. MSRT has been available for every Windows OS since Windows XP and is still available for Windows 10 today. If you have a computer still running on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, then you can still use MSRT today to get rid of malware on your PC as well.

Part of the reason why people run anti-virus after being infected is that it is the right way to go about fixing a computer. The anti-virus will block the malware from doing anything once the anti-virus detects it. With the way computer operating systems work, you want to block it first before removing it. The MSRT will remove the malicious program, but you should only do that after you have blocked it with the anti-virus first. Another reason why the MSRT isn’t as popular as anti-virus is because it only manages to remove some malicious programs. The extent of development that goes into anti-virus far exceeds that of the MSRT, and thus the anti-virus can detect more malicious programs and files than MSRT can.

All that being understood, it is best practice to remove the malicious programs and files after you have blocked it. So, if you really want to look after your Windows 10 operating system the best you can, you do want to run the MSRT after blocking it with the anti-virus. There’s nothing you need to do with the anti-virus other than running the can before you use the MSRT. The anti-virus will move the threat into a vault, and that is what happens when it gets blocked. From there, you just open up the MSRT using the guide below and run the scan.

Note: Microsoft releases a new version of the MSRT each month. These updates to the MSRT tool are released with new software updates, so that’s one of the reasons why you should always allow software updates and not block them. If you want to download the latest version just to make sure, you can do that also directly from the Microsoft website if you like.

Here’s what you need to use the built-in malicious software removal tool in a version of the Windows 10 operating system.

How to Use Malicious Software Removal Tool in Windows 10

Since the MSRT is already installed on the Windows 10 operating system, all you need to do is search for it using the search box in the taskbar. To do that, type “MRT” into the search box and then click on the “MRT” Run command that becomes available under the Best match section.

Click on the “Next” button after you have read what it says above, including the part where it reiterates what we said before about the MSRT not being a replacement for your anti-virus.

The “Quick scan” option works like the quick scanning of your anti-virus. Instead of scanning the whole computer, it scans the places that are most likely to contain malicious software. Most people choose to run the quick scan because running the full scan takes a long time to complete.

If some malicious software is found during a quick scan, it may request that you run a “Full scan” on the computer. You should always follow the instructions and perform the full scan because it might be necessary before Windows can remove the malicious programs in full, along with all of its files. During the full scan, the MSRT tool scans all fixed and removable drives on the computer—that can take up to several hours, depending on how many drives you have on the computer. It’s also possible for you to skip the quick scan and go straight to he full scan if you prefer.

A “Custom scan” allows users to chose a particular folder to scan instead of leaving it up to the operating system to chose for you. That said, it does actually still do a quick scan, to begin with, and then once that is done, it’ll do the folder of your choice. To choose your folder for the custom scan, you’ll need to click on the “Choose Folder” button first before you can click on the “Next” button at the bottom of the window to begin the scan.

Wait for the progress bar to reach the other side of the window. The scan is still running for as long as the progress bar is still up on the computer’s display.

Once the scan has completed, you’ll get a message letting you know that malicious software was ether found or not found. Click on the “Finish” button at the bottom when you are ready to close the tool.

It’s also possible to bring up the same MSRT tool by running a command from the Command prompt. To be able to do that, you need to open the elevated Command Prompt window and then type “MRT /F” and hit the Enter key on your keyboards.

The MSRT tool then opens up on your computer’s screen once again, and you can start using the tool.

Depending on your computer, you might notice the Malicious Software Removal Tool running when it feels like your mouse drivers are playing up. Ideally that doesn’t happen to anyone, and every computer’s hardware is capable of running the tool without anyone ever noticing, but from my own experience that isn’t the case. I have a computer with an i7 processor, which is top of the range, and on occasion when it seems like my mouse just isn’t responding as well as it should be, I open the Task Manager and take a look at what processes are running to try to work out what might be causing the issue. The one thing I have noticed that is using memory during these times is the Malicious Software Removal Tool. The same thing can happen with other programs running in the background as well, say if Windows Defender were to be doing an automatic scan, but apart from those two things, there isn’t much happening in the background. You will sometimes get updates downloading in the background, but those shouldn’t cause any mouse cursor issues. The updates themselves don’t actually install until you go to shut down the computer and it does it then because often the updates require a reboot, so it kills two birds with one stone and finishes the rest of the update after you boot the computer back up again.

The Malicious Software Removal Tool doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as Windows Defender within circles we’ve been a part of, but it is there and automatically running scans on your computer in the background while you use it. The tool runs probably on a monthly basis and checks that no malicious software is installed on your computer—much like Window Defender is scanning in the background and making sure your computer as virus-free. Windows doesn’t show you the results of the scans, so you aren’t always bothered by the software running the scans. Not indicating the results of each scan helps people feel safer online and like there isn’t malicious software out there that you need to worry about. And that’s not a bad strategy by Microsoft: as long as the Windows Defender and MSRT tools are working well, there really isn’t any need for you to worry.

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