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Using the Microsoft Free Malicious Software Removal Tool

written by: Bruce Tyson•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 7/3/2010

The Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool is produced by Microsoft to help keep Windows users safe from some of the most destructive software that affects Windows computers. Here you will learn how to install and use the Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool.

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    Installing the Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool

    The Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool installs automatically in the background for most Windows users. To allow this, users must have Microsoft Update enabled and allow it to install software updates. Generally speaking, the Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool is updated once a month and runs on the second Tuesday of the month. While running in the background, the Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool will search for malicious software such as MyDoom, Blaster, FakeInit, and others to help prevent catastrophic system failure.

    The Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool is great, but it does not offer much in the way of user interaction. Also, since it only runs once a month, users do not have the flexibility of running it whenever they think it is necessary. In other words, the most common version of the Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool cannot be started from the Windows command line. To address this problem, Microsoft has a different version of the Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool that is available from the Microsoft Download Center.

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    The Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool from the Download Center

    Visit the Microsoft Download Center (www.microsoft.com/downloads) and search for KB890830 to download the enhanced Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool.

    msrt01 Once you find it, you can review all the additional information Microsoft provides for your reading pleasure. When you are ready, click the "Download" button. You will be taken to an "About Your Download" page that is supposed to spawn the download you have just requested automatically.

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    If you are running an alternative browser (such as Safari) the download may not begin automatically, so you will have to click the "Start download" link located just below your download's title (In this case, the title of your download is Microsoft® Windows® Malicious Software Removal Tool (KB890830)). When you do this, your browser will probably ask whether you want to "run" the program or "save" it. Click "run."

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    If you are using Windows 7, you will probably get a "File Download - Security Warning" message that again asks if you want to run the program. Click "Run" and then the program will download and install.

    When the setup program runs, Click "Next" on the initial screen.

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    When prompted, select a scan type: Quick, Full, or Customized. Normally you would choose "Quick" here and then click the "Next" button. The type of scan you chose will now run on your computer to check for malicious software such as Sasser. When completed, it will report the results. Click the "Finish" button.

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    You have just installed the Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool from the Microsoft Download Center.

    Image Credits: Screenshots taken by Bruce Tyson.

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    Running the MSRT from the Windows Command Line

    To use the Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool, open a command prompt window by clicking on the "Start" button and then click on "All Programs" and then browse to the "Accessories" program cluster. Once there, select the "Command Prompt" option.

    msrt08 In the "Command Prompt" window, type in "mrt" and then press <Enter>.

    msrt09 The Microsoft free Malicious Software Removal Tool will now run in its own window.

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    Image Credits: Screenshots taken by Bruce Tyson.