This post offers detailed guides for how to run Microsoft/Windows Defender full scan, quick scan, custom scan, or offline scan to scan and remove malware or virus on your Windows 10/11 computer. For more computer tips, guides, and solutions, you may visit MiniTool Software official website.

Microsoft includes a free antivirus tool named Windows Defender (also Microsoft Defender or Windows Security) in Windows operating system to help protect your computer’s safety. You can open and use Windows Defender to scan and remove malware or virus on your PC.

Microsoft Defender Antivirus offers 4 scanning options. This post mainly teaches you how to run Windows Defender quick scan, full scan, custom scan, or offline scan on Windows 10/11 computer. Check the detailed explanation below.

Open Windows Defender on Windows 10/11

If you have a Windows Defender shortcut on your desktop screen, you can double-click the shortcut to quickly launch Windows Defender.

If you don’t see a shortcut, you can press Windows + S to open the Windows Search box, type Windows Defender, and select the Windows Defender or Microsoft Defender or Windows Security app to open it.

After you open the Windows Defender app, you can click Virus & Threat Protection in the left panel to access the Windows Defender scan settings screen.

Windows Defender Download, Install, Reinstall on Win 10/11
Windows Defender Download, Install, Reinstall on Win 10/11

Check the guide for Microsoft/Windows Defender download, install, uninstall, reinstall on Windows 10/11. Also learn how to fix can’t open Windows Defender.

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Windows Defender Quick Scan

The first scan option of Microsoft Defender is Quick Scan. In most cases, you can just run a quick scan and it is sufficient. The combination of real-time protection and a quick scan offers strong protection against malware. It is also the recommended option for the scheduled scan.

This option scans folders in your Windows system where threats are commonly found, e.g. the Downloads folder, the Windows folder, the Windows Startup folder, the registry keys, etc. It offers strong protection against malware that starts with the system and kernel-level malware.

You can click the Quick Scan button on the Virus & Threat Protection screen to instantly start scanning your system. Windows Defender Quick Scan only takes a few minutes.

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Windows Defender Full Scan

If you want to run a deep scan of your system, you can use the Full Scan option of Microsoft Defender Antivirus. The Full Scan mode checks all files and running programs on your hard disk. It runs a quick scan and then continues running a sequential file scan of all mounted disks.

Depending on the amount and type of data that needs to be scanned, the full scan could take longer than one hour, a few hours, or a whole day to complete. Since it takes a long time, Microsoft doesn’t recommend scheduling a full scan. You can manually run the full scan when you want.

You can perform a full virus scan with Windows Security from Settings, Command Prompt, or PowerShell. Check the detailed guides below.

Way 1. From Settings

  • On the Virus & Threats Protection screen, you can click the Scan options link under the Current threats In some Windows versions, you may click Run a new advanced scan under Threat history to open the scan options window.
  • Select the Full Scan option and click the Scan now button to start the deep scan of your system.

If everything is OK after the scan, you will see a message saying “No Current Threats”. If it detects any threats, you can click the Start actions button and Windows Defender will automatically remove the threats.

Way 2. Use Command Prompt

You can also use Windows Command Prompt to run the full virus scan with Windows Defender.

  • Press Windows + R, type cmd, press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open Command Prompt (Admin).
  • In the Command Prompt window, you can type the command cd C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Platform\4* and press Enter.
  • Next, type the command mpcmdrun -scan -scantype 2 and press Enter. You will see a “Start scanning” message after you run the command.

Way 3. Via PowerShell

You can also use Windows PowerShell to start the full scan with Microsoft Defender Antivirus.

  • Press Windows + X and select Windows PowerShell (Admin). For Windows 11, you can select Windows Terminal (Admin) and it will open Windows PowerShell by default.
  • Next, type the command start-mpscan -scantype fullscan and press Enter to run a full virus scan with Windows Defender. It will start to check and remove any detected malware or virus.

Windows Defender Custom Scan

On the Windows Defender scan options screen, you can also choose the Custom Scan option. This scan mode lets you choose a specific file, folder, or location and runs a quick scan. If you want to scan a portable device like a USB flash drive, you can also use Custom Scan.

You have two easy ways to run a custom scan with Windows Defender.

Way 1. From “Virus & Threat Protection” Screen

  • After you get to the “Virus & Threat Protection” screen, you can click Scan options -> Custom Scan.
  • Then you can choose the target folder that you want to scan in the pop-up Select Folder window.

This way only lets you scan folders but not a specific file. To scan the target file, you can only choose the folder that contains the target file to scan.

Windows Defender custom scan

Way 2. From File Explorer

  • You can open File Explorer on your computer.
  • Find and select the files or folders you want to scan. You can select multiple files using the Ctrl key or Shift key.
  • Right-click the selected files/folders and select the Scan with Microsoft Defender The Windows Defender app will start the scan process.

Windows Defender Offline Scan

Some malware or viruses may be very difficult to remove from your computer. You can try Microsoft Defender Offline Scan to see if it can help find and remove the tough viruses. It uses up-to-date threat definitions. This scan mode will restart your computer and will take about 15 minutes.

  • On the Windows Defender scan options screen, you can choose the Microsoft Defender Offline Scan option and click the Scan now button to immediately run the offline scan of your computer.
  • Your PC will restart and Microsoft Defender Offline will load and perform a quick scan of your PC in the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE). After it finishes the scan, your computer will automatically restart.

To check the scan results, you can select Protection history or Threat history under Current threats on the “Virus & threats protection” screen.

Related: Fix Windows Defender Offline Scan Not Working.

Windows Defender Full Scan vs Quick Scan vs Custom Scan

The Full Scan checks all files, folders, and running programs on your computer including backup files, temp files, tasks, boot sectors, and more. It checks the whole computer system. Windows Defender Full Scan can detect malicious files that cannot be detected by other scans like a quick scan.

Windows Defender Quick Scan only checks for common file types and locations where the malware or virus could be. However, the malicious files can be stored in locations that are not included in a quick scan.

Compared with Quick Scan, the Windows Defender Full Scan usually takes a longer time, maybe more than one hour.

As stated above, the Custom Scan lets you choose and scan any file, folder, or location.

Only Quick Scan and Custom Scan modes support removable drive scan.

Does Microsoft Defender Automatically Scan?

Windows Defender offers real-time protection for your computer if you have enabled the real-time protection feature. It also regularly scans your computer to keep it safe. If you want, you can also set a preferred schedule to perform the scan with Windows Defender.

Does Windows Defender Scan External Drive?

By default, Windows Defender Antivirus doesn’t scan external drives in full scan. It can scan external drives during the quick scan and custom scan.

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Free Data Recovery Tool for Windows 10/11

To help you recover deleted or lost files from your computer, MiniTool Power Data Recovery is top recommended.

MiniTool Power Data Recovery is a professional data recovery program for Windows. You can use it to recover any deleted/lost files, photos, videos, etc. from Windows computers, USB flash drives, memory cards, external hard drives, SSDs, etc. It helps you deal with various data loss situations. It has an extremely intuitive interface and lets you recover data in a few simple steps.

Download and install MiniTool Power Data Recovery on your Windows PC or laptop and use it to scan and recover data from various storage devices.

Free Download

  • Run MiniTool Power Data Recovery.
  • Select the drive or device and click Scan.
  • Check the scan result to find wanted files to save to a new location.

MiniTool Power Data Recovery

Free PC Data Backup Tool for Windows 10/11

To keep data safe on your computer, it’s advised you make a backup of important files and Windows OS.

MiniTool ShadowMaker is a professional free PC backup program. You can use it to easily backup and restore the Windows system. Still, it also lets you choose any files, folders, or partitions to back up in bulk at a very fast speed. You can even choose the whole disk content to back up. It allows you to back up data to an external hard drive, USB flash drive, or network drive.

File Sync, Automatic Backup, Incremental Backup, Clone Disk, and many other professional backup features are also provided.

Free Download

MiniTool ShadowMaker

Bottom Line

If you suspect that your computer is infected with malware or virus, you can use Microsoft Defender to easily perform a quick scan or full scan to scan your device for threats. This post introduces the Windows Defender scan options and offers a detailed guide on how to run a virus scan with the Microsoft Defender Antivirus program. Hope it helps.

If you have other computer problems, you may find answers from MiniTool News Center.

For more useful free tools from MiniTool, you can visit MiniTool Software's official website. If you have any issues with using MiniTool Software products, you can contact [email protected].

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