How to Scan for and Remove Viruses in Windows 11

This post shows students and new users how to scan for and remove malware and viruses in Windows 11.

If you begin experiencing unexpected slowness, or programs starting up automatically or pop-up messages showing up constantly on your PC, it may be a sign of a virus or malware. You may be able to resolve these issues by making sure your PC is regularly updated, and running antimalware and antivirus software.

Antivirus and antimalware software can scan for viruses and other malicious programs on your PC. The good thing is Windows 11 comes with a built in antivirus program called Microsoft Defender to help you get rid of malicious software.

Microsoft Defender Antivirus scans your computer regularly to keep your device safe from viruses and malware. The scan takes place while your computer is not being used or when it’s idle so not to interfere with your work. However, even if you take precautions and do all the right things, your PC can still become infected.

In that case, you can perform a manual scan for viruses and other unwanted programs.

If you’re using other third party antivirus program, then Microsoft Defender will automatically disable itself. If you don’t have other antivirus installed, Microsoft Defender will automatically turn on and help to stop threats or minimize their effectiveness on your computer.

To scan for viruses and malware, follow the steps below:

How to scan for viruses in Windows 11

If you’re running Windows 11 without a third party antivirus software installed, then Windows Defender will be your only protection. To scan for viruses, follow the guide below.

Windows 11 has a centralized location for majority of its settings. From system configurations to creating new users and updating Windows, all can be done from its System Settings pane.

To get to System Settings, you can use the Windows key + i shortcut or click on Start ==> Settings as shown in the image below:

Alternatively, you can use the search box on the taskbar and search for Settings. Then select to open it.

Windows Settings pane should look similar to the image below. In Windows Settings, click Privacy & security, select Windows Security on the right pane of your screen shown in the image below.

On the Windows Security setting pane, click “Open Windows Security” button as highlighted below,

When you open Windows Defender, make sure the dashboard look similar to the one below with not section needing your attention. If any section has a red x or warning, make sure to address these quickly to keep your computer protected.

Below is a screenshot of how Microsoft Defender looks when it’s health.

Once Microsoft Defender opens, select Virus & threat protection, then select Protection updates under Virus & threat protection updates.

On the Protection updates screen, select Check for updates to make sure you have the most recent updates.

Go back to Virus & threat protection, then select Quick scan.

Wait for Windows Security to finish scanning for viruses and malware.

How to run advanced scan with Microsoft Defender

If the quick scan doesn’t find any viruses or malware, you can choose to run the advanced scan. This scan takes longer but searching more extensively for threats on your PC.

Select Start  > Settings > Privacy & security  > Windows Security   and then Virus & threat protection.

Under Current threats, select Scan options.

Select one of the scan options:

Full scan (check files and programs currently running on your device)

Custom scan (scan specific files or folders)

Microsoft Defender Offline scan (run this scan if your device has been, or could potentially be, infected by a virus or malware).

Select Scan now.

How to schedule Microsoft Defender scan

To schedule Microsoft Defender Antivirus program to only scan your computer at the time and frequency you choose, click Start => then search for Task Scheduler

Select Task Scheduler from the result listed on the menu.

When Schedule Tasks opens, in the left pane, expand Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows, and then scroll down and double-click (or press) the Windows Defender folder.

In the top center pane, double-click (or press twice) Microsoft Defender Scheduled Scan.

This should open the task properties. In the Microsoft Defender Scheduled Scan Properties (Local Computer) window, select the Triggers tab, go to the bottom of the window, and then tap or click New.

On the task setting pane, specify how often you want the scans to run and when you’d like them to start. This should always run on exact time you define here. But your computer must be powered on and running for this to work.

If your computer is shutdown, this task will fail to run

The trigger above runs daily at 12AM and stops the task if it runs for more than 2 hours. You can configure more advanced settings like repeat every 1 or 4 or 8 hours. You can also delay the task randomly. but the basic settings should work fine.


This post showed you how to use Microsoft Defender to perform scan on your computer. If you find any error above, please use the form below to report.