Windows Defender Offline on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

Although Windows 10 comes with the Windows Defender Antivirus to protect your device and data from unwanted malware, it's still possible for specially crafted malicious code to install itself and rapidly take control and cause irreversible damage.

This isn't a problem with the built-in antivirus, as it could happen with any security solution, even when running the latest update. However, if you come across a threat that's hard to find and remove, you can use the "Windows Defender Offline." The offline option is an antimalware scanning tool that can help you to scan the system to detect and remove most malware, such as viruses and rootkits when Windows 10 isn't running.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to perform an offline malware scan using the Windows Defender Antivirus tool.

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How to use Windows Defender Offline using Windows Security

To scan and remove viruses with Windows Defender Offline, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Windows Security and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Click on Virus & thread protection.
  4. Under the "Current threats" section, click the Scan options link.

    Windows Defender Scan OptionsSource: Windows Central

  5. Select the Windows Defender Offline scan option.

    Windows Defender Offline Scan OptionSource: Windows Central

  6. Click the Scan now button.
  7. Save any work that you may have open (if applicable).
  8. Click the Scan button.

Once you complete the steps, the device will restart automatically, and Windows Defender Offline will start its automated scan and deletion process of malware without the need for user interaction.

If you're stuck in the "Windows Defender Antivirus" loading screen for a while, it's normal behavior. After a few minutes, the screen will change to a Command Prompt interface labeled "Your PC is being scanned," and it'll show you the start time, number of scanned files, and percent complete. Then you'll see an empty blue screen for a few moments, and then the device will restart automatically.

Windows Defender Offline scanSource: Windows Central

In the case that you see a blue screen of death (BSoD) during the scan process, restart the computer and try to run the Windows Defender Offline scan one more time.

See scan results

After the scan is complete, you can find the scan results using these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Windows Security and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Click on Virus & thread protection.
  4. Under the "Current threats" section, click the Protection history link.

    Windows Defender Protection History optionSource: Windows Central

  5. Confirm the scan actions and recommendations (if available).

    Windows Defender Offline scan resultsSource: Windows Central

If the security tool is unable to detect any malware, you won't see any history entries.

We're using the Windows Defender reference, but starting with the May 2020 Update, the security service is known as "Microsoft Defender Offline."

In the past, Microsoft had a tool, which you were able to download to create a bootable media to perform a virus scan offline on Windows 10. However, it's not an option anymore for Windows 10 devices, but you can still download it for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 devices.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources: