How-To Geek

Ask HTG: Using the Malicious Software Removal Tool, Scheduling Computer Startups, and Diagnosing an Overheating Laptop


Once a week we select a few questions from the pile of emails we answer and share the solutions with the greater readership; this week we’re looking at the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool, scheduling computer startups, and how to diagnose an overheating laptop.

Do I Need the Malicious Software Removal Tool?


Dear How-To Geek,

I’m running Vista Home Premium on my laptop. I have Microsoft Security Essentials installed and it is set to run every week. I have no other anti-virus software on my system. Is it necessary for me to run the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool every month?


Scanning in Syracuse

Dear Scanning,

Microsoft Security Essentials is a great (and free!) anti-virus offering from Microsoft that is designed to offer broad spectrum and detection for a wide range of virus and malicious software activity. The Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool is a very focused tool designed to ferret out new and spreading threats. Here is Microsoft’s explanation of how the Removal Tool differs from an anti-virus tool:

    • The tool removes malicious software from an already-infected computer. Antivirus products block malicious software from running on a computer. It is significantly more desirable to block malicious software from running on a computer than to remove it after infection.
    • The tool removes only specific prevalent malicious software. Specific prevalent malicious software is a small subset of all the malicious software that exists today.
    • The tool focuses on the detection and removal of active malicious software. Active malicious software is malicious software that is currently running on the computer. The tool cannot remove malicious software that is not running. However, an antivirus product can perform this task.

The Removal Tool is intended to precisely target existing infections and prevent large networks of malicious software (aka BotNets) and other undesirable infections from gaining traction. It does not protect you from getting infected; it does the dirty work of cleaning up when fresh threats find their way into your system. We highly recommend you maintain both an up-to-day virus scanner (as you are with Microsoft Security Essentials) and that you continue to use the once-a-month Malicious Software Removal Scan.

How Can I Schedule My Computer’s Startup Time?


Dear How-To Geek,

I’d like to be able tell computers around my home and office to turn on at specific times. Is there any way to control this all from a central computer instead of going to each computer and waking them up? Does it matter if they are using different operating systems?


Boot Time in Tennessee

Dear Boot Time,

If you have a router that will accept 3rd party firmware then this DD-WRT hack is right up your alley. While you’re reading up on it, we’d suggest you check out some of our other articles about Wake-on-LAN (WOL) including What Is Wake-on-LAN and Setup a Wake-on-LAN Control Panel for Your Network.

How Do I Diagnose an Overheated Laptop?


Dear How-To Geek,

I’ve been trouble shooting my laptop for a few days now. I’m pretty sure that the source of my troubles is heat. The symptoms are too far reaching to be a single thing (like a hard drive problem or a faulty stick of RAM). It really seems like heat (and boy does this laptop get hot) is the source of my problems. How can I diagnose this short of using my laptop in a walk-in freezer? Help!


Hot Lap in Houston

Dear Hot Lap,

Heat build up in laptops is a more serious issue that in desktops due to the tightly constrained spaces within the laptop’s body. Something simple like a dirty or under-performing fan usually doesn’t cause much trouble in a desktop but can completely overheat a laptop. We’d recommend you check out our guide to diagnosing laptop heat problems here. The guide covers cleaning your laptop fan, diagnosing a bad battery, and software-based steps you can take to help unload your processor and decrease the heat buildup in the process.

Have a pressing tech question? Shoot us an email at and we’ll do our best to help out.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/21/11

Comments (10)

  1. Arston

    For an overheating laptop cleaning is the first thing you’d do. But if it doesn’t help, a good tip would be to check the power plans’ settings (I didn’t see anyone addressing this in the topic you linked). Under the advanced settings on the power plan, set the Maximum Processor State to something lower than the default 100%. Also make sure that the System cooling policy is set to Active. Of course, that will decrease the performance of the processor a bit, but in some cases that’s smarter solution than others, depending on how you use the machine.

  2. embed wiki

    After reading i have got the concept about the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool is a very focused tool designed to ferret out new and spreading threats,smarter solution than others, depending on how you use the machine.

  3. sakisds

    About making your computer wake up at a specific hour, most motherboards have a setting at BIOS for this which works just fine.

    Also most computers include a clock that can wake up your PC from sleep mode but I don’t know any application that utilizes this except of this beta linux-only solution:

  4. StevenTorrey

    It can’t be stated too often. A paid for anti-virus program is worth the small price. When the home computer has so much personal info on it, when the home computer is used to pay bills–then that computer should be protected from incursion. To not have this protection is to be irresponsible.

  5. Tom Hall

    I have to disagree with Arston. The VERY FIRST thing to do is to check that the airflow is not impeded by whatever the laptopm is resting, sitting or standing on.
    Countless times it can be seen that the laptop has been placed on a soft mat or (table-) cloth to protect the table etc. Always use the fold-away feet on the laptop. That’s what they’re designed for.
    THEN you can start looking to the ‘inards’

  6. Arston

    Yes Tom, you’re absolutely right. I thought checking the vent openings is a no-brainer, but that is, of course, the very first thing :)

  7. Richard

    @ Hot Lap

    As suggested by HTG the program Core Temp is an excellent utility which monitors your CPU and shows the OEM Max temperature for the specific CPU in your laptop. It constantly shows the temperature of all your CPU cores in the task bar. Allso you can set it to instantly notify you if the temp either exceeds the OEM Max or you can set your own maximum temperature and it will notify you if it exceeds your temp.


  8. John K.

    Another useful tool is Speccy from Piriform (makers of CCleaner). Fast running, it’s primary use is to analyze and report the details of all the components, from CPU, to RAM, and all periperals on your system. As a bonus, it also displays the temperature of each component.

    Oh, and it’s free!

    Here’s their website:

  9. Sparky Sparks

    I have a $10 laptop cooling pad. I use Speccy. I can see the temperature change immediately on Speccy whenever I plug in the usb cord and activate the laptop cooling fan. I run Microsoft Security Essentials every night. Once a week I run Eset free scan. 3 years and counting I’m free of any troubles. Carbonite in case I crash someday.

  10. a4ajinkya

    1. The air ducts are likely clogged, open up the cover from the top (keyboard comes out) and use some compressed air in a can to blow out the ducts. also while you’re in there, make sure all the fans spin. if not, replace them.(To be done only by EXPERT TECHNICIAN ONLY)

    2. This problem occurs when battery life is approx. 2years (if generally used on continuous charging)
    Confirm about battery is OK or not

    3. USE COOLING PADS (which works on USB)

    4. Format PC once ,viruses and malicious programs cause slow down of fan in laptop.


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