Computer viruses are software applications that are designed to perform malicious actions, such as destroying or corrupting data. Most viruses are obtained by sharing and copying infected software. A virus can also be acquired by downloading infected files from the Internet. Although it may not have been intentionally downloaded, a virus or malware can find its way onto your computer from a variety of sources. Simple sources, such as a banner ad on a site you frequent, to the more devious, hidden downloads that sneak their way through the software you are installing.
Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) was discontinued in January of 2020 along with Windows 7. ITS now recommends using Windows Defender that comes installed on all Windows 8/10 devices.
This Quicknote is for the benefit of the faculty, staff, and students who would like to know more about computer viruses and the use of Windows Defender.
To follow this Quicknote you need a computer running Windows 8/10, a computer account with administrator rights, and to uninstall any previously installed anti-virus programs (see next section for help on this).
Preparation for Windows Defender
Before starting the install, make sure you have no other anti-virus program installed, be it full, free, or trial versions. If you have more than one anti-virus program installed, they might conflict with each other, working against you, rather than for you. To check if you have any other anti-virus programs installed, and if needed, to uninstall them, follow the steps numbered below:
- Click the Start button.
- Click Control Panel.
- If in the Large/Small icon view, click Programs and Features
- If in Category view, under Programs click Uninstall a program.
- Select the old anti-virus program and click Uninstall at the top.
Downloading/Installing Windows Defender
Since Windows Defender already comes on Windows 8/10 devices, you will not need to download or install any additional software as it is built into Windows.
Scanning with Windows Defender
- Click the Start button and search in the start menu for Windows Security. You can also navigate to the Settings app, click on Update and Security, Click on Windows Security on the left, then Open Windows Security.
- Click on Virus & threat protection.
- Select Quick Scan or click on Scan options and select Full Scan and Scan Now.
- Note: Quick Scan analyzes the most common areas a virus might hide and takes significantly less time. Full Scan analyzes the entire hard drive and can take many hours depending on the capacity and fullness of the hard drive and speed of the computer hardware. Only choose the Custom option if you want to scan a certain drive, folder, or group of locations, such as checking if there is a virus on your flash drive or external hard drive.
- Windows Defender will now begin a scan of your computer.
- Once the scan is complete you will see any threats that have been identified as well as the last scan time, elapsed scan time, and how many files were scanned.
- To see the results of your scan click on Protection history.
For a list of recommended anti-virus and anti-malware programs, please see our Quicknote Protecting My Computer
If you have any questions or experience any issues with this Quicknote, please visit or contact the ITS Helpdesk for assistance.
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