If you think your PC is infected with some kind of malware or you just want lớn vày a scan as part of a digital cleanup, Windows has a built-in security tool that can help you on your way — no third-các buổi tiệc nhỏ software to lớn install or pay for. It’s called Windows Security.

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Once upon a time, Windows Security was called Windows Defender Security Center, but the tiện ích is largely similar. Searching “Windows Defender” in the Start menu will bring up Windows Security, and even now, Microsoft often refers to lớn its actual antivirut scanning as Windows Defender.

Microsoft’s built-in anti-malware software used lớn be thought of as totally worthless, but these days, it can hang with big names lượt thích Kaspersky & Avast in independent tests (blocking 99.7% of threats). Microsoft has also been pushing security with Windows 11, even going so far as to confusingly lochồng out people with older computers that don’t have certain hardware. But when it comes khổng lồ good old-fashioned software security, Windows 11 is relatively simple.

To open it, you can simply type “Windows Security” into the Start thực đơn tìm kiếm. You can also get to it by going lớn “Settings” > “Privacy & Security” > “Windows Security,” which will give you a quick overview of your system’s status. You can then clichồng the “mở cửa Windows Security” button lớn get access to the full tiện ích.

After you’ve sầu got it open, here’s some of what you can do:

Run a malware scan on Windows 11

By default, Windows’ built-in security will run in the background và attempt khổng lồ immediately blochồng any malicious files that make their way lớn your computer. However, if you want to vì chưng periodic spot checks, you can manually run a scan.

Windows Security’s built-in vi khuẩn and threat protection feature. To do this, go to “Windows Security” > “Virus và threat protection,” và cliông xã the “Quiông xã scan” button. If you want lớn vị a more thorough scan, which will take longer but will kiểm tra all your files và running programs, you can instead clichồng the “Scan options” button, & choose “Full scan.”

If Windows finds malware during the scan, you can clichồng the “Start actions” button khổng lồ begin the process of removing the virus(es) from your computer.

Clicking Start actions will remove malware from your computer. If the scan doesn’t turn up anything, you’ll just see a report about how long the scan took, how many files were scanned, & when the scan took place.

A clean bill of health from Windows Security.

Keep Windows security up khổng lồ date

If you want to lớn make sure Windows is always scanning for viruses in the background, you can go to lớn “Windows Security” > “Virus và threat protection” > “Virus and threat protection settings.” Click on “Manage settings” & make sure the “Real-time protection” option is toggled on.

To make sure your computer is using the lachạy thử antivirut definitions, you can go to lớn “Windows Security” > “Virus & threat protection” > “Virus và threat protection settings.” Clichồng on “Manage settings” and make sure “Cloud-delivered protection” is toggled on.

Windows 11 generally does its best to keep itself updated, but khổng lồ manually check, you can go khổng lồ “Settings” > “Windows update,” which can be found both at the bottom left và top right. From there, you can clichồng the “Cheông chồng for updates” button. You can also type “check for updates” in the Start thực đơn tìm kiếm bar khổng lồ be taken directly to lớn the “Windows Update” screen.

You can make sure your computer is up-to-date in Settings.

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If you’ve installed a lot of apps from the Microsoft Store, you can update those as well by opening the Microsoft Store, going to lớn “Library” (on the bottom left of the window), then clicking the “Get Updates” button.

If you still have Windows 10

If you’re running the latest version of Windows 10, the process for running a virus scan will be largely the same as on Windows 11. On some older versions of Windows 10, you’ll use the Windows Defender Security Center application instead, but the process will be much the same after you open the app.

What are the signs my PC is infected?

Malware comes in many shapes & forms, but there are some common things it may vị to your computer. If you notice that your search engine, browser homepage, or even desktop wallpaper have changed without you doing anything, it may be time to lớn run a scan as described above. Other symptoms could be your computer running hotter or slower than usual or seeing popups or notifications that you haven’t seen before.

Google has a great video clip describing some of the common symptoms of malware.

If Windows detects a threat

If you get a notification from the Microsoft Security phầm mềm saying that it’s detected a threat, it’s likely that the problem has already been dealt with. However, it is worth double-checking the notification — some malware (especially malicious web ads) will pretend to lớn be an antivirut notification to lớn get you lớn click on them.

Windows Security notifications will look lượt thích the image shown below & will appear on the top right corner of your screen. After they disappear, they’ll be shown on the notification screen, which you can view by clicking on the clochồng in your taskbar.

An example of the notification you’ll get if Windows Security finds a suspicious file.

Whitelisting a file

While anti-malware software tries its best to lớn only flag the bad files và leave the good ones, sometimes it will get it wrong. If you’re very sure that Windows has made a mistake và deleted a file that it shouldn’t have sầu, you can retrieve sầu it.

Before you vì chưng so, it’s worth noting that just because you trust the person who sent you a file does not mean that the file is safe. There is some malware that is able to hijack people’s emails and skết thúc copies khổng lồ everyone in their contacts. If you receive a suspicious file from someone you trust, it’s a good idea khổng lồ ask them about it before trying to open it.

The Protection history screen will show you the incidents Windows Security has monitored.
To view and restore an incorrectly flagged tệp tin, go to “Windows Security” > “Virus and threat protection” > “Protection history.” There you’ll find any threats that Windows Security found, along with their severity level. To restore a file (which, again, you should be very careful before doing), cliông xã on the entry, then click the “Actions” button to lớn get access to the “Allow” button.

The Protection history screen can give you details about a detected vi khuẩn, such as where it was found, & what type of malware it is. What happens after you allow the tệp tin depends on how it was dealternative text with. If its status is “Quarantined,” allowing it will put it baông xã on your computer. If its status is “Removed,” you’ll have khổng lồ download it again, but Microsoft Security won’t stop you.

You can view a danh sách of the detected files you’ve sầu allowed by going khổng lồ “Windows Security” > “Virus và threat protection” > “Allowed threats.” If you’ve sầu decided they are indeed a threat, you can re-delete them by clicking on them, then clicking the “Don’t allow” button.

When things get nasty

Sometimes there are viruses or pieces of malware that fight bachồng when you try to lớn remove them. To help khuyến mãi with this, Windows has a sort of extra-strength version of its antivirus scan. To run it, go lớn “Windows Security” > “Virus & threat protection” > “Scan options,” and select “Microsoft Defender Offline scan.” After clicking the “Scan now” button, your computer will restart inlớn a special mode lớn bởi vì a scan. Once it’s done, your computer will restart again, bringing you bachồng lớn Windows.

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If your computer still shows signs of being infected, some of us here at The Verge recommend the không lấy phí version of Malwarebytes, which has saved our (& our relatives’) machines more than a few times. (It’s a good idea lớn have Malwarebytes already on your computer since some malware can bloông xã you from installing any additional security apps.)

If your PC is still locked up, or you’re suddenly getting notifications that you need to sover somebody money khổng lồ unloông chồng it, it may be time to tương tác an IT professional.

Third-các buổi tiệc nhỏ anti-malware apps

While Windows Security should vày a good job at protecting your computer from viruses, malware, & other nasty files, there are still things it can’t vị — for instance, even with Windows 11, the built-in tools won’t protect you from tin nhắn phishing scams or from scam ads in your website browser.

If you’re looking lớn step up your game from the basic Windows Security, you might want to lớn kiểm tra out anti-malware suites, such as McAfee, Norton 360, Kaspersky or Bitdefender. Searching out a few đánh giá will give sầu you a good idea of what you need (và what you don’t — looking at you, programs that come with crypto lớn miners).

If you’ve sầu heard about the dangers of running multiple anti-malware systems, don’t worry; Microsoft says its built-in solution will automatically turn off if it detects that there’s another antivirut installed and activated. If you uninstall the other anti-malware tiện ích, Microsoft’s should turn bachồng on automatically.