Scanning for Viruses Without an Antivirus Program

On the second Tuesday of each month, as part of its normal security releases, Microsoft releases an updated version of a utility called the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT). This utility is not designed to block new viruses from entering a computer; rather, its function is to clean up systems that have been infected with well-known and widespread viruses and other forms of malware. The MSRT is delivered by Windows Update, and on most computers, this tool runs silently and then deletes itself; it alerts you if it finds any infections, and lets you know if they were successfully removed.

If you prefer to scan one or more systems manually, you can download the current executable version of the MSRT from Because this utility is updated at least monthly, we do not recommend that you save this file. For details about this tool, read Microsoft Knowledge Base article 890830 (

As an alternative to the MSRT, free web-based virus scanning services are available from several antivirus vendors . The Windows Live safety scanner can be run from


Periodic scanning by the MSRT or an online tool does not provide continuous protection against virus infections . For that, you need to install and run an antivirus program .

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