Windows 10’s included Microsoft Defender antivirus, also known as Windows Defender, has a command line interface. Instead of using the graphical Windows Security app, you can run Windows 10’s built-in antivirus from Command Prompt, PowerShell, or Windows Terminal.
Run a quick virus scan
You can run a quick scan to look for viruses, malware, and other threats in a number of common places, such as the Windows registry and startup folders. This scan usually only takes a few minutes to complete.
To use this scan, open the “Start”
Click “Yes” at the User Account Control prompt.
In the Command Prompt window, type the following to make the Microsoft Defender Antivirus directory your current working directory:
cd C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindows DefenderPlatform4.18*
Note: If you make another folder your current working folder or close and reopen Command Prompt, run the above command before using other Microsoft Defender Antivirus commands.
Then enter the following command and press “Enter” to start a quick virus scan:
MpCmdRun -Scan -ScanType 1
You will see the progress of the live scan on your screen.
Run a full virus scan
A full scan thoroughly checks all your computer files for viruses, malware and other security risks. Since this is an extensive scan, it usually takes longer than the other scans.
You can run a full scan with the following command in the command prompt:
MpCmdRun -Scan -ScanType 2
Note: If for some reason you need to stop a scan, press Ctrl + C on your keyboard.
Run a custom virus scan
You want to use a custom scan if you have certain files or folders that you want to scan for viruses, malware and other threats. You can also use this to scan files on your external storage such as your USB flash drives.
To use this, type the following command in the command prompt window and press “Enter”.
Make sure to replace “PATH” with the path to the folder or file you want to scan. If your path contains spaces, add double quotes before and after the path, like this: “C: Users Mahesh Desktop My Files”
MpCmdRun -Scan -ScanType 3 -File PATH
For example, if you want to scan your desktop for threats, run the following command and replace “MYNAME” with your username.
MpCmdRun -Scan -ScanType 3 -File C:UsersMYNAMEDesktop
Scan the boot sector files of your PC
The boot sector of your PC stores all essential information about starting your computer. This sector contains the code that starts your operating system.
Sometimes certain viruses and other threats attack this boot sector. When this happens, you will have trouble starting your computer. You can also face other problems.
RELATED: What to do if Windows does not start
If you think your PC is infected with a virus or malware, it is worth running a boot sector scan to find and remove suspicious content from this sector.
You can use the following Microsoft Defender Antivirus command to run a boot sector scan:
MpCmdRun -Scan -ScanType -BootSectorScan
Restore quarantined files
When Microsoft Defender Antivirus finds a suspicious file, it moves that file to the quarantine. This is a special location to store suspicious files and your files cannot be started when they are in the quarantine here.
If you think the antivirus has accidentally moved a file to quarantine, you can use a command to restore that file to its original location.
To do this, first run the following command to display a list of all your quarantined files:
MpCmdRun -Restore -ListAll
Make a note of the name of the file you want to restore in the list. Then type the following command, replace “MyApp.exe” with the name of the file you want to restore and press “Enter”.
MpCmdRun -Restore -Name MyApp.exe
If you want to restore your file to a different folder, use the following command instead. Make sure to replace “PATH” with the path to your directory before running the command.
Of course, replace “MyApp.exe” with the name of the file you want to recover.
MpCmdRun -Restore -Name MyApp.exe -FilePath PATH
Update Microsoft Defender Antivirus
Microsoft Defender Antivirus regularly updates itself to make sure it can find newer viruses and threats. However, you can force it to search for and download newer updates at any time.
You can do this by running the following command in the command prompt window:
It updates the virus definitions without any prompt.
View all available Microsoft Defender Antivirus options
In addition to the above, there are many other command combinations you can use to get the most out of this antivirus on your Windows 10 PC.
To find all available commands and parameters, run this command in the command prompt:
You are now a professional when it comes to using Microsoft Defender Antivirus from the command prompt.
If you prefer the graphical interface, check out our guide on how to use Microsoft Defender Antivirus, which explains all the graphical features of this program.
RELATED: How to use the built-in Windows Defender Antivirus on Windows 10