Originally published at: http://www.howtogeek.com/180773/what-is-the-malicious-software-removal-tool-and-do-i-need-it/
Once a month, a new version of the Malicious Software Removal tool appears in Windows Update. This tool removes some malware from Windows systems, particularly ones without antivirus programs installed.
This is great.
Just a few days ago I actually raised this very question in another discussion and actually thought to myself, "This might make a good topic for an HTG article."
In fact, the detailed explanation answered some pertinent questions, such as "Does the MSRT run constantly in the background, looking for malware - or only once when it's updated?"
Thanks very much for this Chris. Very helpful and informative.
Yeah, okay, but you never answered the question in the title: Do I need it?
Yeah, your post is the reason we wrote the article. Thanks for the idea
Thank you Lowell - I'm flattered
And please let Chris know I appreciate the time and effort he put in to writing the article.
Frankly, he did speak directly to many point about which I was unsure, and answered some important questions. While any experienced geek is well aware of the limitations of the MSRT, I bet there are more than a few people who may believe it provides a complete level of protection.
I remember back in my early days, before I knew better, I would manually download and run the tool every month - which can take well over two hours on any normal machine.
Interesting with good advice not to use the tool instead of an antivirus program. The one question I dont think it covered is: if I have an antivirus like Kaspersky, will the removal tool find anything that Kaspersky didnt? If not, its not needed for those with antivirus.
A friend's Windows 8.1 system was infected with "Windows Prime Booster" yesterday so I was looking for a fix this morning. I had to discount the Malicious Software Removal Tool because as soon as his PC booted, Prime Booster popped up preventing any other action until it was registered. I found Avira's free "Rescue System" iso, burned a copy to a CD and booted from there. After it completed it's scan finding only one infection, I figured I'd still see problems but when I rebooted, all appeared well. I followed up with Malwarebytes and SpyBot (SpyBot found a registry entry lingering and fixed it) and all appears well. The Malicious Software Removal Tool would be useful only if you could boot from a CD with it. After your PC has problems, you may or may not be able to run any programs on it to "fix" it. Windows 8.1 provided lots of hurtles to get around trying to get into Safe Mode - I never did get there (every time I got to the screen telling me which key to press for the type of Safe Mode I needed, it powered off!). The Levono system was equally troublesome trying to boot from a CD. Pounding on the F12 key only worked occasionally providing access to the boot device menu. It just shouldn't be that hard and it never was with older versions of Windows.
There isn't a single anti-malware/anti-virus tool that can detect and remove every malicious file on the planet. That's why multiple tools are needed if it is believed that there is a virus on the computer. As pointed out in the article, the MSRT updates and run automatically every month, to pick up any malicious software, in case the anti-virus software doesn't pick it up.
If there is a single file (or even a URL) that is concerning, it can be uploaded to VirusTotal, where it will be checked by many anti-virus programs.
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