Windows Defender or Windows Security is an antivirus program that is included with every installation of Windows 11/10. Even though Windows Defender continuously tracks and scans your files to identify and remove unwanted malware automatically, there might be instances where you must manually check a particular file or folder to ensure that they are free of viruses or other malware that could damage your computer or your files. Check out these multiple ways to manually scan your files and folders to safeguard your computer.
Note: Windows Security is the modern name for Windows Defender.
How To Scan A File or Folder With Windows Defender or Windows Security
There are three ways to scan a file or folder you are suspicious about with Windows defender.
- Directly with Windows Security
- Using File Explorer
- Using Command Prompt
These options are available for all users. If you cannot find these options, ensure Windows Security is enabled for your PC.
1] Directly with Windows Security
- Open Windows Search box using Win + S
- Type Windows Security and click to open it.
- In Windows Security, go to Virus and threat protection section
- Click on Scan Options, and it will reveal all types of scans available
- Select Custom scan, and click on the Scan now button
- It prompts you to select a folder location and scan it.
Windows Security will now run a Custom scan for the folder. It will show the running count of files undergoing the scan and the estimated time left to complete the scan. If there are any threats detected, they will be displayed on the screen. If not, you can go through the scan summary and close the window.
There is no way to perform a file scan using the above method. So if you want only to scan a single file, move to a new folder, and then scan the folder.
2] Using File Explorer
You can follow these easy steps to choose the files that need scanning from File Explorer.
- First, open File Explorer (Win + E) and select the file/ files you want to scan, and then right-click and choose Scan with Microsoft Defender.
- A new window will open where you have options of Quick scan, full, custom, and Microsoft Defender Offline scans. Choose the required mode of scanning and press Scan now.
- When the scan is complete, you will see the Scan options page showing whether the files contain any threats or not.
3] Using Command Prompt
Anyone can use the Microsoft Defender or Microsoft Security program from the command line to scan a file or folder. We will need to use the MpCmdRun program, which is available at
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Platform\<Folder with highest version>\
To Scan a folder using the following command on an elevated Command prompt or Windows Terminal or PowerShell:
mpcmdrun -Scan -ScanType 3 -File "<Path to Folder>"
In the command, replace “<Path to Folder>” with the path to the folder you want to scan. You only need to use quotation marks if the path contains a space.
So, if the folder name is C:\Downloads, then the command will be
mpcmdrun -Scan -ScanType 3 -File C\Downloads
To Scan a file, use the following command on an elevated Command prompt or Windows Terminal or PowerShell:
mpcmdrun -Scan -ScanType 3 -File "<path-to-file>/filename.exetension"
So, if the file location and name are C:\Downloads\filename.txt, then the command will be
mpcmdrun -Scan -ScanType 3 -File C:\Downloads\filename.txt
Once the scan is complete, you get a result.
Windows Security keeps your PC safe to a limit, and you can always use it to check folders or files manually. The primary role of Windows Security is to protect your PC from virus threats, protect your account, firewall & network protection, and protect apps and browsers, provide device security, good performance, and health. Also, updates are automatically downloaded to your device, in addition to this real-time protection, to keep your files and folders safe and secure.
Why Should You Use Windows Defender or Windows Security?
Microsoft’s Windows Security does an excellent job of identifying malware files, stopping network-based attacks and exploits, and also provides alerts if one encounters fraudulent websites. Even simple PC health and performance statistics are included, in addition to parental controls with usage restrictions, content filtering, and location monitoring. So these are the reasons why you should use Windows Security.
Should I Use Windows Defender and No Other Anti-virus?
Even though Windows has built-in antivirus security in the form of Windows Defender, extra software is still required, such as Defender for Endpoint or a third-party antivirus. This is due to Windows Defender’s absence of endpoint protection, full-service investigation, and threat remediation.
Is Windows Defender the Best Antivirus for Windows PC?
While Windows Defender is a reliable antivirus with a high rate of malware detection, antivirus software like Norton, McAfee, Avira, etc., all have more excellent rates of malware detection, particularly when it comes to sophisticated trojans, spyware, and ransomware.