In a recent review of Microsoft Security Essentials it was discovered that an option to wake the computer to perform a scheduled scan did not exist. There is a way to force the computer to wake up and complete a scan but it involves editing the scheduled task within Windows 7. This tutorial will take you through the steps required to get this done.
If you need an introduction to the Task Scheduler please review our First steps in Working with the Task Scheduler.
The Microsoft Security Essentials Scheduler
Microsoft Security Essentials provides a nice interface for editing a scan schedule. You will find it by selecting 'Change my scan schedule' at the bottom of the Home tab.
From this interface you can set which day and time a scan should be performed. The default for Microsoft Security Essentials is 2 AM. This seems like a fine time to perform a scan since the computer is likely not being used. It's also likely that your power settings have placed the computer into a mode of sleep or hibernation. If the latter is true, the scheduled scan will not run.
In order to force your computer to wake and perform the scan the steps below should be followed.
Editing the Scheduled Task
Open the Task Scheduler as shown in our First steps in Working with the Task Scheduler. Within the Task Scheduler expand the Task Scheduler Library and then expand Microsoft. Below the Microsoft folder you should see another folder called Microsoft Antimalware. Select it.
In the right pane you should see the task for your scheduled scan: 'MP Scheduled Scan'. Next you need to access the task properties. To accomplish this, you may right click on the task and choose Properties or select the Properties link from the Actions menu.
Within the task properties select the Conditions tab. Enable the option to 'Wake the computer to run this task' by selecting the checkbox.
The setting will now be applied. Unfortunately, any time you change the scheduled scan setting via the Microsoft Security Essentials interface, you will need to update the task again if you continue to desire the 'Wake to Run' functionality.
As you can see, it's not very difficult to wake your computer to perform a scan. I'm hoping the next release of Microsoft Security Essentials will include this option within the program interface. By the time they release this new version, if you have any questions about this fix, please leave a comment.