Top Free Online Virus Scan Services

Online Virus Scan Services: Pros and cons

Free online virus scan is a very popular service among all PC users worldwide. The reasons are obvious - always up-to-date antivirus signature databases, ease of use, simple interface which even novice users find comfortable to work with (because all it takes to run a scanner is a couple of mouse clicks), quite wide choice of scanners at no cost.

Nowadays all big name antivirus companies offer some kind of online scan for present and future customers. It is also part of marketing strategy exploited to attract buyers. Whenever a free online virus scan finds and removes some infection, it is natural to suggest that a paid installation of antivirus would do real miracles to data safety and protection. A very effective on-going advertising campaign, isn't it? ;)

Anyway, it would be foolish not to use the option of online virus scan if such can help when your PC security is questioned.

Online scanners have quite significant advantages over dekstop installations of traditional antivirus software and PC security suites, to name just a few:

  • Always free to use! No demo versions, no trials, no registration keys to enter.
  • Online virus scanner cannot be corrupted by infections hiding somewhere inside Windows files, while this does happen to on-disk installations of PC security software. Some sophisticated malware can easily damage antivirus software installed under Windows and make it absolutely useless.
  • There's a choice of services so you can always decide what you want specifically to be done in each case. Online scan services allow for removal of rootkits, spyware and other threats in addition to virus infections. But you can't really install several antivirus applications under Windows simultaneously (some techies suggest that you can use 2 antivirus softwares installed side-by-side, but you may find resident scanners 'fighting' in memory to kick each other out of RAM space).
  • Sometimes you can't install an antivirus because the already infected Windows ruins the setup process. This is when you either go for a CD-bootable anti-virus, or load a browser and initiate an online virus scan.
  • If you dislike some particular online virus scanner, there's no need to go through a removal process like installed programs require. Downloaded antivirus signatures are kept as temporary files, so they're easily removed from the hard drive via settings of a browser. There are no changes made to the sensitive Windows registry (arguably the most vulnerable part of Windows).

With all that said, I can't leave the negative points beyond. There are some:

  • Online scanners cannot perform when there's no stable Internet connection. If a virus messes up the TCP/IP configuration, chances are you will not be able to use online scan service.
  • A browser will require certain privileges on part of the user for the online scan to perform. If privileges are limited and there are no sufficient rights under user account to download signature files, etc, online antivirus will be unusable. So user accounts with restricted rights may experience a problem.
  • Smart virus can prevent online scan from running.
  • Online virus scan cannot prevent future infections.
  • Not all online virus scan service offers removal of detected malware - some only report the found infections.
  • Because most online virus scanners depend on Internet Explorer and ActiveX, it may be necessary to repeat the scan after restarting computer, and/or switching to another scanner. This is because malware often corrupts IE system files and injects malicious code into IE settings, so it is not always possible for the scanner to remove all detected threats at once. Some malicious entries are left, but the dependence of alien files is broken, so the next time you load up the scanner, it procedes with the removal process and cleans out the PC.

Below I'm listing most popular (in my opinion) services offering free online virus scan.

TrendMicro Housecall
TrendMicro Housecall

Trend Micro HouseCall

Trend Micro HouseCall offers a free online virus and spyware scan. This is the service you'll most likely see recommended in first place on many PC security related forums. It is indeed that popular! TrendMicro scan goes far beyond bare virus detection, supports Windows and Mac based computers, Mozilla and Internet Explorer browsers. Important: you can choose from either ActiveX engine or Java engine. These set of options make this online scan very versatile. Currently there's a new version available for testing ;)

Go to Trend Micro Housecall:

http://housecall.trendmicro.com/housecall/

BitDefender Online Virus Scan
BitDefender Online Virus Scan

BitDefender Online Scan

BitDefender appeals to my aesthetics - I like its interface. It works in two modes - simple and advanced, depending on how much information you want displayed. The progress bar is very convenient. It shows the number of scanned files, infections, and actions taken. Besides, BitDefender allows send a report to their security lab once the scan is finished and there is a virus detected, thus you can help this great product become even better ;) The drawback is that it supports IE browser only. For a Firefox fan like me it's not that convenient. But it is indeed a powerful service, which I've seen detect infections other products failed to.

Another great feature of BitDefender is the ability to choose directories for scanning. Say, if you have several HDD partitions, you can limit scanning to C:\Windows and My Documents, where malware is most likely to be living. This option can significantly reduce the time compared to the full computer scan.

Go to BitDefender Online Scan:

http://www.bitdefender.com/scanner/online/free.html

McAfee FreeScan
McAfee FreeScan

McAfee FreeScan

McAfee FreeScan is the name! I guess it is the synonym for computer security in the US ;) Like a narrative. The scanning service is solid as everything produced by the brand. As to cons, it requires IE 5.0+ and works with ActiveX controls only. If ActiveX is disabled, than you can't use the service.

McAfee FreeScan offers a browser window with real-time statistics - number of files scanned, infections, name of detected virus.

Go to McAfee Security Scan Plus:

http://home.mcafee.com/store/Product.aspx?productid=mss

McAfee Security Scan does not allow for infections removal.

McAfee FreeScan Progress Window
McAfee FreeScan Progress Window
F-Secure Online Virus Scanner
F-Secure Online Virus Scanner

F-Secure Free Online Scanner

F-Secure offers to scan a PC for common infections like virus and rootkits. It also removes the found infections. However, F-Secure needs Internet Explorer to run, and doesn't have support for Firefox as of yet. But fans of Internet Explorer 7 may happily use this service ;)

Windows Vista is supported in addition to previous Windows versions.

Go to F-Secure Free Online Scanner:

http://www.f-secure.com/en_EMEA-Labs/security-threats/tools/online-scanner


ESET NOD32 Online Antivirus Scanner

ESET's Online Antivirus Scanner uses its patented ThreatSense technology which is featured in company's desktop and server products. Initial download of antivirus signature database takes under a minute if you're on a broadband. ESET offers to remove the detected infections - for this you need to check the proper boxes (see screenshots below). Spyware is removed as well! NOD32 Scanner works only with ActiveX so it requires Internet Explorer (as most online virus scan services do).

Go to FREE ESET Online Scanner:

http://www.eset.com/online-scanner

ESET Online Antivirus Scanner Steps
ESET Online Antivirus Scanner Steps
ESET Online Antivirus Scanner Progress Window
ESET Online Antivirus Scanner Progress Window

Panda ActiveScan 2.0 - Free Antivirus

Panda security software maker offers anyone to try out its TruPrevent technology. With a database of 185,000 threats its online scan can detect a huge number of infections. Also scans for spyware modules (like dialers, jokes, rootkits, etc).

Panda claims to be able to disinfect the known spyware (sadly, this is no longer true for a free edition), and thanks to its heuristic engine, it detects even unknown types of malware.

The antivius database is updated daily.

Optionally you can place a shortuct on your desktop to connect to Panda ActiveScan whenever you need to, without opening a browser window.

Note: if you have antivirus software installed with resident monitoring ON, it may report a virus in Panda downloadable files. Do not worry! This is a common false-positive. The reason is that Panda doesn't encrypt its database of antivirus definitions, and when it is being downloaded onto your PC, a stand-alone AV can decide you're getting infected. Other security vendors set some kind of encryption to its malware definitions so that no third party AV software is able to detect the virus signatures inside archives. Rest assured that Panda is not infecting your PC.

Go to Panda ActiveScan:

http://www.pandasecurity.com/homeusers/solutions/activescan/

Panda ActiveScan Free Antivirus does not allow for infections removal.

Panda ActiveScan Online
Panda ActiveScan Online

Online Virus Scans for Separate Files

Apart from listed above virus scans, there sometimes rises a need to check the safety of one single file. To do it quickly, it is best to use a special service for scanning separate files - without the need to download anti virus definitions.

Among such services the following are worth mentioning.

Avast! Online Scanner.

There's a captcha to be entered in order to scan a file. All you need to do is just browse for the target file on your PC, enter the captcha and press 'Scan' button.

Go to Avast! Online Virus Scanner:

http://onlinescan.avast.com/

DrWeb Online Scan.

DrWeb is another PC security product from Russia. The desktop version of DrWeb is very popular in Russia and CIS countries - and there must be serious reasons for that. DrWeb offers to scan single files - the webpage is as simple as possible, there's nothing on it except the "browse" button to specify the path to the target file.

Go to DrWeb Web Scanner:

http://online.us.drweb.com/

VirusTotal.

VirusTotal deserves special attention. It provides interface in multiple languages. It's anti virus definitions database in compiled by biggest PC security software developers - that is, a single scan equals to simultaneous scanning with different antivirus engines.

The cool thing about this service is that it allows to send files for scan via email and even add a command to your right-mouse context menu! (Windows users only) That way you can send a file for a thorough scan just by right-clicking mouse.

Go to VirusTotal Scanning Service:

http://www.virustotal.com/

Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner

Windows Live OneCare is available both in a desktop version and an online virus scanner. The latter allows to check hard drive for unnecessary files and delete them, and also tests the strength of PC security setup.

As you can guess for sure Microsoft requires Internet Explorer to be used for running Windows Live OneCare scanner.

Go to: Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner:

http://onecare.live.com/site/en-us/default.htm

EMSISOFT Web Malware Scan

It's been a couple of months since EMSISOFT updated it's desktop a-squared anti-malware to version 4.0, and now the company decided to join the army of online virus scanners!

EMSISOFT web malware scanner offers anyone to check computers for Trojan Viruses, Worms, Backdoors, Rootkits, Spyware/Adware, Keyloggers, Dialers, Hacking Tools, Riskware and TrackingCookies. All you need to run this tool is Internet Explorer with ActiveX enabled and a stable Internet connection.

EMSISOFT online scanner requirements:

  • Windows XP or Windows Vista;
  • Internet Explorer 5.0+
  • User account with administrator privileges;
  • 32-bit system .

Upon first scan you will be prompted to install a-squared ActiveX components. Agree to that.

EMSISOFT Web Malware Scan Modes

Just like the desktop version of EMSISOFT anti-malware, the web scanner will offer to choose from 4 types of scan:

  • Quick scan;
  • Smart scan;
  • Deep scan;
  • Custom scan.

Quick scan is meant for fast checking of Windows most sensitive areas, like Windows and System32 folders, Documents and Settings, system memory, and the Registry.

Smart scan also checks Program Files for malicious software installers.

Deep scan takes the longest to complete because it is a thorough check of all hard drive space, byte-by-byte to ensure not a single piece of malware is hiding in the system.

Custom scan allows you to choose which specific folders to check for malware presence.

The web malware scanner window conveniently displays the number of definitions loaded, and the date when latest updates were added to the database.

EMSISOFT offers a new a-squared free malware removal tool with web interface.

Go to: EMSISOFT Web Malware Scan:

http://www.emsisoft.com/en/software/ax/

More by this Author


Comments 72 comments

Drw BreakinG 4 years ago

thinxxx :)


DarK Knight 4 years ago

Kaspersky for life.


George D 4 years ago

Great article. I tried several of these scanners but I had no luck. I gave up and called these guys http://www.boxaid.com and they finally removed it. Took them 3 hours so it wasn't easy.


charlemont profile image

charlemont 4 years ago from Lithuania Author

infected, can you tell what kind of infection you're trying to get rid of?


infected 4 years ago

i have tried many of these and they are not working at all *yet*. if any work i will post again...


shomii 4 years ago

i like it very much


charlemont profile image

charlemont 4 years ago from Lithuania Author

kb, I replied to your post in the comments section of this hub:

http://hubpages.com/technology/Remove-Trojan-Virus...


kb 4 years ago

Hello Charlemont, glad to find you! Hope you can help, have unknown virus, literally sqeals like a pig. Will not allow the opening of any program. I am in safe mode, attempted to execute HiJackthis, got as far as the terms and conditions but could not figure out how to agree to them and get past. I should mention I am runnig in safe mode and my font is HUGE! Help please!


yoyo 4 years ago

nice


Dr Rockpile profile image

Dr Rockpile 4 years ago from USA

I'm usually leery of free virus scan services. It's nice to see a list of legit ones.


Roger 5 years ago

mr jassi gill..scan it online first.


mr jassi gill  5 years ago

yaar virus pc main koi vee antivirus install hone nhi deta ?????????what,s problem yaar????????????????????


deblipp profile image

deblipp 5 years ago

I've been using Avira and it consistently catches things my other scanners haven't caught.


charlemont profile image

charlemont 5 years ago from Lithuania Author

al thanks for drawing my attention to it. I've updated links and added notes for scanners that do not allow for malware removal. Kaspersky online virus scan has been dropped off so I removed it whatsoever.


al 5 years ago

All this is very messy.

A simpler review is needed, and, moreover, need to point

clearly if it's only detection or removal/desinfection is available.


charlemont profile image

charlemont 5 years ago from Lithuania Author

Thanks for letting me know about the changes made to Panda online virus scanner. Indeed they removed disinfection from the list of features available in a free version.


to charlemont 5 years ago

Panda has changed their free online version to "Scan only" like Kapersky did, so Panda no longer removes viruses for free. To remove any viruses, you'll have to pay to full version of software.


NEiL 5 years ago

Hey...Great job, man.

I was having a lot of problems opening files on my computer, but after i ran trend micro housecall; everything was dandy!

thanks for the effort.....


isanknut 5 years ago

i guess nod online scan is a winner in asia. My best experience with antivirus program is AVG and NOD is a god nr2!Avast i have not tried yet.


ACS 5 years ago

avg is a so-so for me..i have xp. and even though its free,it makes you keep re installing it to keep it going as the free only lasts 30 days max.


n.r 6 years ago

thanks for such o tremendous antiviruses


Eric 6 years ago

The fact of the matter is that most virus checkers can only identify about 20 percent of the threats out there. The best thing to do is make sure you use safe internet. Safe internet practices will protect your PC far more than any antivirus tool. If you need a tool ClamWin is free and ranks among the best in virus discovery, although lacking the many of the user interface features of proprietary offering this little scanner does offer point and click scanning and other such comfort features.

In the future I would like to see virus scanners not only detect viruses but files that are prone to infection and out of date. For instance if there is a popular software or bios that is out of date a poses a security risk then a vulnerability scan should pick that up. This is most likely already being done -- but I have reviewed all the most recent packages yet.


Thomas J Thomas 6 years ago

To Charlemont....A very well written, and informative guide. Thank you very much for the research and information.

Imho the "secondary" online scanner is the future, Once again Charlemont Thank You.....EXCELLENT


fdfdf 6 years ago

trend micro is the best !


charlemont profile image

charlemont 6 years ago from Lithuania Author

Susa, chanced are you MAC doesn't need any scanners. I believe software makers don't find MAC's to be as prone to infections as PC's.


Susa 6 years ago

I can't find the version for MAC, just pc?


R_Dub 6 years ago

This might be a good site to check out for you, should you wish to try other scanners:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/antivirus-partner...


charlemont profile image

charlemont 6 years ago from Lithuania Author

smiley, I've checked with Windows XP and there's no folder C:\Windows\Installer\

Are you using any different version of Windows? The folder might be hidden.


smiley 6 years ago

hi and thanks for the great write up!

just wondering, my avg scan found "aedupont.dll," a "Trojan horse Downloader.Generic9.BBYW" in C:\Windows\Installer\1fdca4e.msi:\Cabs.w71.cab:\aedupont.dll.

Anyone recognize this? And how can I access the "Installer" folder? I can't see it in the Windows folder.

Thanks a lot!


JenArt 6 years ago

I always use Kaspersky but they are currently down. I believe they are updating/upgrading. For now, they offer a free file scan, but I want to do a full deep scan on my son's computer. Ended up here while searching, and just want to say THANKS for the great research! I think I'll try several different scans, just to be safe. Thank you again for your dedication to this topic!


shinujohn2008 6 years ago

AVG is one of the best trusted companies in case of anti virus providers


niponbharali 6 years ago

a great deal of false positive from a squared free.remove it from your list


iskra1916 profile image

iskra1916 6 years ago from Belfast, Ireland.

excellent informative hub !


samironwebtrack profile image

samironwebtrack 6 years ago

wow, it's a gr8 hub, i was looking for the same information which you post over here...thanks a lot.


Freestuff11 7 years ago

17 viruses!!!


Freestuff11 7 years ago

Awesome! I REALLY hate those "free scans" I BET THEY PUT VIRUSES INTO YOUR COMPUTER TO MAKE YOU BUY IT! Finnaly, i'll be out of this "special safemode" that allows me to play games, get on the internet and do pretty much anything! THANK YOU!!!!


Dot2Kode 7 years ago

Thanks for the info!

@Hemanth wtf? wasting your time? Your wasting your time for posting a stupid comment like that.


Hemanth 7 years ago

Hi

I have no idea why you are wasting your time on this! Are you doing a professional research on computer malware?

Hemanth


eng:abdel nasser 7 years ago

good list for online virus scan services,thanks for that good work.


dwi 7 years ago

nice thing you do here, I appreciate it, thank you. GBU.


charlemont profile image

charlemont 7 years ago from Lithuania Author

Sora, viyozeji.dll is not a valid system file so it's safe to remove it. If the fike is not there, then the error is caused by some registry reference which needs to be removed. Normally anti-malware programs are capable of removing invalid paths.


Sora 7 years ago

I do not understand all of this, but I know that this trojan is annoying. It is called viyozeji.dll. The path is C:\WINDOWS\system32. I doubt these virus removers can derezz this trojan.


bcdemon 7 years ago

Great list, Nice breakdown of System Scanners and Single File Scanners.

Don't trust just one online scan though. I have used 3 different scanners (F-Secure, Kaspersky,Bitdefender) on a single PC and each scanner picked up on different virus/trojans/spyware.

Thanks again for your wonderful work.


nejesh 7 years ago

i have a mac system dual boot with win xp which is corrupted now i need the antivirus which work in mac


tomr 7 years ago

Attackers are well-aware of the valuable information accessible through Web applications, andtheir attempts to get at it are often unwittingly assisted by several important factors.Conscientious organizations carefully protect their perimeters with intrusion detection systemsand firewalls, but these firewalls must keep ports 80 and 443 (SSL) open to conduct onlinebusiness. These ports represent open doors to attackers, who have figured out thousands ofways to penetrate Web applications.The standard security measures for protecting network traffic, network firewalls and IntrusionPrevention Systems (IPS) and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), do not offer a solution toapplication level threats. Network firewalls are designed to secure the internal networkperimeter, leaving organizations vulnerable to various application attacks.Intrusion Prevention and Detection Systems (IDS/IPS) do not provide thorough analysis ofpacket contents. Applications without an added layer of protection increase the risk of harmfulattacks and extreme vulnerabilities.Web Application Level Attacks is the Achilles heel. In the past, security breaches occurred at thenetwork level of the corporate systems. Today, hackers are manipulating web applicationsinside the corporate firewall. This entry enables them to access sensitive corporate andcustomer data. An experienced hacker can break into most commercial websites with even thesmallest hole in a company’s website application code. These sophisticated attacks havebecome increasingly threatening to organizations.I recommend a service call GamaSec ( www.gamasec.com) remote online web vulnerability-assessment servicethat tests web servers, web-interfaced systems and web-based applications against thousandsof known vulnerabilities with dynamic testing, and by simulating web-application attacks duringonline scanning. The service identifies security vulnerabilities and produces recommendedsolutions that can fix, or provide a viable workaround to the identified vulnerabilities www.gamasec.com

Vulnerability scanner does automated search for security weaknesses in web applications and theirs services and reports them in details about possible vulnerabilities and probable defense or ways to prevent it


lumiere 7 years ago

yeah that's right


needful things profile image

needful things 7 years ago from Poland

Yep yep yep AVG is quite good. Kapersky is I think better. Thumbs up.


chiphoi 7 years ago

thanks for your list, u did a great job!


Steve 7 years ago

Avira AntiVir Free Edition is the best virus protection that you can get for free. The Eset Online Scanner is by far the best for Detection/Removal


YJ 7 years ago

its cool research .

kaspersky is besttttttttt.


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