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19 April 2011, 16:31

Anti-virus to go: Microsoft makes portable anti-virus tool available to download

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Microsoft has released its free Microsoft Safety Scanner (MSS). This scans for and removes malware from Windows systems without requiring prior installation. According to AV-Test's Andreas Marx, the on-demand anti-virus scanner appears to be based on the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), but with the addition of a complete signature database. MSRT used a mini database of widely distributed threats and is distributed monthly via the automatic update function.

Adding in a complete database bulks up Safety Scanner's file size to around 64 MB – still smaller than many software updates. According to Microsoft, the scanner can only be run for up to 10 days after installation, after which it must be re-downloaded – this ensures that it always has up-to-date signatures. Because MSS does not need to be installed, it can also be saved to and run from a USB flash drive. 32- and 64-bit versions are available.

Users can choose between a quick scan, a full scan and a user-defined hard drive scan. According to testing carried out by AV-Test, scan performance is comparable to that of Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0, i.e. very much acceptable. Microsoft is keen to point out, however, that the Safety Scanner is not a substitute for proper anti-virus software, as it does not include important functions such as real time protection and behavioural detection. Users must have administrator privileges to run the tool, which is compatible with other, installed anti-virus software.

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