Windows’ built-in security tools haven’t always been the best around. But Windows 11 is not only better in this regard. It’s also easier. Not only in terms of accuracy in its malware scan tool but also in terms of the features found in the Windows 11 Security center. Best of all, the tool doesn’t just help with malware. But also with a lot of other potential security and privacy problems.
So, if you’re looking to scan for malware in Windows 11 without paying for extra anti-virus or malware protection this guide will be a great place to start. And, if you’re looking to learn how to do something else, we’ve also got plenty of other walk-throughs for Windows, Android, and more.
Here’s how to get to the scan tool for malware on your Windows 11 PC
The first step to scan for malware in Windows 11 — or do anything else security-related — is to open Windows Security. And that’s an easy enough process. As well as a process that takes you right where you’ll need to be to run a scan. Since Windows 11 puts scanning front-and-center in the Windows Security app.
- Now, the easiest way to get to the Windows Security tool in Windows 11 is also the quickest. Tap or click on the four-square-shaped Windows Start icon.
- Then, in the search bar at the top of the page, type in “Windows Security”
- Then, click or tap on the option that reads “Windows Security.” It should be near or at the top of the results
- On the resulting page, in the right-hand pane, Windows provides “Security at a glance.” If you haven’t run a scan in a while, that will be among the options. You can click or tap the button labeled “Scan now” to run a scan for malware.
- Otherwise, tap or click on the “Virus & threat protection” option in the left-hand pane.
- On the resulting right-hand pane, find and click the “Quick scan” button. That button can be clicked at any time, although Windows 11 will periodically scan automatically for threats. If any threats are found, Windows 11 will walk you through addressing them
These features will help you take your scanning further
Of course, a quick scan isn’t the only feature found in the Windows Security app. Further down the above-mentioned “Virus & threat protection” page, you’ll also see a link to sync Windows 11 up with any updates to protection, including malware definitions and more — to improve the scan capabilities. As shown in the first image below.
But there are several other segments on this page that are worth a brief introduction as well. Specifically, for those segments found in the left-hand panel.
- The Account protection pane, for starters, contains security for your account and sign-in settings. For instance, you can set up Windows Hello facial recognition or turn on Dynamic lock. The latter setting is similar to one found in Chromebooks. Namely, allowing a Bluetooth device to keep the machine unlocked when nearby. Finally, the page also allows account detail viewing for the signed-in account. As well as adjustments to privacy settings
- In the Firewall & network protection pane, conversely, you’ll find settings related to your network. Specifically, for firewalls on the networks that you access. There’s a setting for your domain network, private networks — such as your home network — and for automatically-detected public networks. Additionally, this pane provides easy access to Firewall notification settings. As well as firewall information and help. And a way to allow individual apps to pass through the firewall. Just in case there are any issues with those
- The App & browser control pane is a panel for settings related to “reputation-based” protection and exploits protection. The branding for the former is, of course, a misnomer. Reputation-based protections help keep low-reputation apps from running on your Windows 11 machine. Effectively helping block app-based malware in Windows 11 — as opposed to more simple scan-based protections. Exploit protections are more straightforward, helping keep your machine safe from exploits
- The device security pane offers a different array of information entirely. As opposed to containing settings. To begin with, it provides details on Secure boot, the Security processor, and Core isolation. But it doesn’t provide much by way of interactivity. Instead, it’s designed to provide the details needed in order to ensure that you’re machine is working properly
- As the third to last entry, the Device performance & health pane works similarly to the above-mentioned Device security pane. It gives users an outline of their device health. More precisely, a rundown of Windows Time service, Storage capacity, Battery life, and Apps and software issues. That’s if there are any issues. Otherwise, it informs you that there are “No issues” to speak of. In case there are any unsolvable issues, the page provides ready access, via a link, to get a “Fresh start” by installing a fresh copy of Windows. Keeping only the basics, including personal files and a few specific windows settings. It also removes some apps
- “Family options” is the second-to-last pane and are fairly self-explanatory. In this pane, Windows 11 provides family controls. Those start with the ability to set up an array of specific websites kids are allowed to explore using Microsoft Edge — although that won’t necessarily work as expected if you’ve changed your default browser. And the options run the gamut. From screen time, activity, and app monitoring, down through device health and safety checks for linked gadgets.
- Finally, the Protection history pane provides a broad overview of the most recent protection actions and other recommendations from Windows Security. For instance, I didn’t perform a quick scan while taking the images above. So Windows Security is recommending that I run one on the Protection history pane