How-To Geek

How to Make Windows 8’s Built-in Anti-Virus Scan Removable Drives

Windows Defender doesn’t scan removable drives by default, like USB drives or SD cards, but you can quickly change a setting to make that happen automatically.

How to Make Windows 8’s Built In Anti-Virus Scan Removable Drives

To enable the scanning of removable media you need to open Windows Defender, which can be easily accomplished by typing “Windows Defender” into the Start Screen to search for the application.

Once you’ve opened Windows Defender, switch over to the settings tab.


On the left-hand side, select the Advanced settings option, and then check the box for “Scan removable drives” on the right-hand side.


The next time you plug in a USB drive it should be scanned automatically.

Taylor Gibb is a Microsoft MVP and all round geek, he loves everything from Windows 8 to Windows Server 2012 and even C# and PowerShell. You can also follow him on Google+

  • Published 01/7/13

Comments (8)

  1. Ruja

    The description says this setting is for scanning removable drives during full on-demand scans. I believe files inside them are always scanned on access.

  2. Boob Tube

    Are you kidding me? You mean to say that we can’t right-click on a drive and select “Scan with Microsoft Security Essentials…” anymore?! (Or like Ruja said?)

  3. Adam

    This is automatic scanning. I would set this up on some of my business clients machines that have a bunch of novices working for them.

  4. PeterTechGuy

    This applies to Microsoft Security Essentials as well, which is of course for Windows Vista/7.

  5. LeNovice

    Microsoft Security Essentials was great on Win 7/XP/Vista as it was very unobtrusive but still had very basic and useful feautures like the option to right click and scan files etc. But on Windows 8 I think they’ve gone too far, you don’t even know that the new Windows Defender is on, there’s no icon anywhere, nothing, plus they’re removed the option to scan specific files/folders, it’s either a full scan or nothing, they really need to bring that option back.

    @Ruja I think you’re right, not too long ago I plugged an external flash drive into my laptop and Windows Defender picked up and cleaned an infected file straight away, so I think you’re right that files are scanned on access even if they’re on removable drives. The option seems to only apply to full scans.

  6. Max

    Doesn’t seem necessary unless you want a full scan. On-access should be enough.

  7. Frank

    @LeNovice – you can still do scans on files & folders – you have to use the custom setting then choose which files & folders you’d like to scan. I do miss the right-click scan option of yesteryear tho…

  8. kiran chauhan

    really thank you for this, i doesn’t have idea about how to do it.
    thank you.

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