Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Scanning for malware regularly is a good idea. Whether or not you are doing it too much is a matter of opinion. What matters is that you are doing it!

Hi, Leo. I'm running Windows XP on an older HP desktop. I have Microsoft Security Essentials scanning each Monday. I scanned with Malwarebytes on Wednesday and scanned with Spybot on Fridays. Now, I've no indication that I have any malware on my machine. Am I being overly paranoid doing three scans a week? Would I get the same level of protection having Security Essentials do the Monday scan and not do the others unless Security Essentials finds a problem? Thanks for your help.

In this excerpt from Answercast #97 I look at an aggressive plan of malware scans to keep a computer free from viruses and spyware.

Scanning for malware

I don't think you're being paranoid.

What I end up doing myself is I run Microsoft Security Essentials. I have it scan nightly; not once a week but nightly. And then I pull out other tools as necessary if I ever discover a problem, which as it turns out, I don't discover very often.

Are three scans too much?

Now on the other hand, is what you're doing too much? No. It's fine, and it's a fine thing to do.

The thing that we always tend to tell people to avoid is to have those programs installed and running in real time. It's the "real time" component of different anti-malware tools that can often conflict with each other.

But doing stand-alone scans like this? You can run as many of them as you like - and yes, they will catch some other things.

Extra protection

Malwarebytes is a good one because it does often catch things that other tools don't. So, I've got no problem with what you're doing.

I don't think it's overkill... it's a little bit on the strong end of the spectrum. It's not what I do.

In your case, if you missed the Malwarebytes scan or the Spybot scan one week, I wouldn't be concerned about it in the least. But I think what you're doing is fine. The most important thing is that you're doing something and the most important thing is that you're doing something on a schedule.

If I were to tweak anything about what you've described. I would have Microsoft Security Essentials automatically scan every night instead of once a week.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6341 - March 8, 2013 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

March 12, 2013 4:05 PM

Having a teenage son, I scan daily with CCleaner, Glary Utilities, Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware, and occasionally with Spybot and Avast. I don't mind spending the time, for peace of mind, but hope I'm not wearing out my hard-drive! My Windows 7 computer is about 15 months old. Is there anything wrong with scanning that often?

March 12, 2013 6:47 PM

Leo, that MSE nightly scan that you do ... is it the "quick" scan or the "full" scan? Or some "custom" scan.

March 13, 2013 9:19 AM

I have several malware scanners I use once a week unless I notice something's wonky, then I do a complete deep scan using my arsenal. I wish there was a batch file one could use to run a scan using all one's malware apps, in sequence, with a machine shutdown at the end so I wouldn't have to do it meself.

Mark J
March 13, 2013 12:13 PM

You can easily create a batch file to run all of your apps. Simply create a text file in notepad or something similar, on each line, enter the name of the program you want to run
(eg. c:\Program Files (x86)\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware\mbam.exe)
Then name the file whateveryouwant.bat and you can run it as a batch file.

March 13, 2013 3:22 PM

For excellent protection, you can to protect your browser with a sandbox. Sandboxie program is free,there is a 5 second buy nag screen after trial period expires but will still work.
If you do not save{recover option} outside the sandbox, malware etc will not install in your hard drive.
read about it here

Ken in San Jose
March 16, 2013 11:04 PM

I use Norton Anti-Virus in real time and weekly run a full scan. I also download and run the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool weekly. Then I download Microsoft's Windows Defender Offline and install it on a USB flash drive, and run it once a week (careful, Windows Defender Offline formats the USB flash drive before installing. So anything on the USB flash drive is gone). Norton Anti-Virus, in real time, from time to time has blocked some malware from attacking my computer. I have never had scans with either Norton Anti-Virus or Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool find anything. But the Windows Defender Offline has twice found malware on my C: drive. Both times I re-installed my system from the last Windows 7 image backup and the did the scans again, which came up clean.
The Windows Defender Offline seems to scan more files than the other scans. And sense it runs off the USB flash drive, all the files on the C: drive are available to be scanned.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.