Microsoft Security Essentials preliminary scan results show malicious software

3 minute read
Microsoft Security Essentials problems

Preliminary scan results show that malicious or potentially unwanted software might exist’ is the message displayed by Microsoft Security Essentials.

The warning shows up after a system scan and it somehow offers information about a potential security alert. However, the message itself isn’t saying too much and it’s also quite ambiguous: is your device infected, should you be worried, or everything is fine and you can mind your own business?

Well, the focus word from this alert is ‘might’. During the system scan Microsoft Security Essentials didn’t find malware or viruses but certain software might appear as malicious.

Overall, the bottom idea is that you have nothing to worry about – usually third-party apps or processes might be seen by the Windows system as potentially deceptive programs.

However, when security breaches are involved is always better to be prepared for the worst. So, here are the best ways in which you can react when you receive the ‘Preliminary scan results show that malicious or potentially unwanted software might exist’ message.

How to deal with ‘Preliminary scan results…’ alerts

1. Restart your device and re-scan the system

The first thing to do is to restart your Windows 10 system. Then, run Microsoft Security Essentials and initiate a new scan. If there was a software conflict, now you shouldn’t receive the same alert. If a third-party app is causing the warning message then chances are you will notice it again.

In that particular situation you can choose to go to Safe Mode (press Win+R; in the Run box type msconfig and press Enter; from System Configuration switch to Boot tab and choose Safe Mode) as in Safe Mode all third-party processes and features are disabled by default.

Of course, run the scan again; the ‘Preliminary scan results show that malicious or potentially unwanted software might exist’ warning shouldn’t be displayed now.

2. Reinstall Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials preliminary scan result

If the steps from above aren’t resolving your problem you should uninstall Microsoft Security Essentials and reinstall the program afterwards. You can remove the program from Control Panel: right-click on the Windows Start icon and choose Control Panel.

Then, switch to category field and under Programs click on Uninstall. Find the Microsoft Security Essentials entry and uninstall the program on your computer. Next, download Microsoft Security Essentials from Microsoft’s official support page and follow on-screen prompts for installing the software on your Windows 10 computer.

Of course, in the end run a system scan and observe the results. If the warning message is still there, resume the next troubleshooting solution.

3. Install a dedicated antivirus or antimalware program

In order to be sure that your system is fully protected and that your data is safe and secured you should choose to install a different security program. Depending on your own situation and on your own preference you can choose a paid security software such as Bitdefender, Bullguard, Panda or Kaspersky or you can download a free antimalware program like Malwarebytes – we recommend you to use Malwarebytes as it is a great security tool which will properly scan your computer.

We strongly suggest you to check out some of the best antivirus software for your Windows PC and install the one that best suits your needs. Also, we recommend trying out this tool that will remove viruses and repair the damage done by them.

If after running a more complex scan you don’t receive any warnings, you have nothing to worry about – otherwise, just choose to remove the infected files.

Optional, if you already installed a dedicated antivirus / antimalware software, you can remove Microsoft Security Essentials from your Windows 10 device.

In that way you won’t experience any other ‘Preliminary scan results show that malicious or potentially unwanted software might exist’ messages and you can also be sure that your system is 100% protected against deceptive programs or malware attacks.

So, that’s how you should react when Microsoft Security Essentials is displaying alerts such as the ‘Preliminary scan results show that malicious or potentially unwanted software might exist’ prompt.

If you have further questions or if you have something to share with us related with this topic, use the comments form below.


For various PC problems, we recommend to use this tool.

This tool will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Quickly fix PC issues and prevent others from happening with this software:

  1. Download this PC Repair Tool with Patended Technologies
  2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues (requires upgrade).