A free online virus scan sounds rather appealing. First of all, it means that you don’t have to download anything to check files for viruses. Besides, it is totally free – and that’s the best part. However, we all know that free stuff is rarely high-quality. That’s why naturally, the question “Can I trust it?” pops up.
In this post, we will consider two groups of online scanners aimed at the detection of viruses: Best Free Online Virus Scanners and Best Free Desktop Virus Scanners. The first ones work as remote places/services for checking suspicious files. The second contemplate downloading the program which would scan your computer and remove the malware.
Simultaneously, if you consider a full-protection solution, you can find the best antiviruses here.
Best Free Online Virus Scanners
These options refer to specifically designed scanners that work as independent services for identifying the threats. Under it, you upload the file to the website, and it notifies you of the results after the examination. Basically, it is a place for checking doubtful files for viruses. Importantly, they are not designed to remove or fix the issues.
We advise you to use such instruments only when you need to check files for viruses and can’t install an antivirus program for some reason. Another way to use an online scanner is to get a second opinion on a particular file.
Best Free Desktop Virus Scanners
Nevertheless, not all of them are website-based online scans, as some brands provide the scans within their free software or have separate programs for scanning. Not only do they scan computer systems but get rid of virus threats. Therefore, if the only reason you don’t install an antivirus software is its price, free Desktop Virus Scanners may be a nice solution to protect yourself and pay less.
- Total Av Basic Scanner
- Eset Scanner
- F-Secure Scanner
- Norton Security Scan (unavailable for download, check our Norton Antivirus review for the full version)
Of course, such programs will have a limited set of features, but they will provide you with decent protection at no cost.
Next, we will consider each type of free scanners in more detail.
Top-5 Truly Online Virus Scanners – Totally FREE
Here are the most reliable providers that offer a free online virus scan and removal and require no download.
1. Avira Online Virus Scanner
- Clean and simple interface
- Allows to check URLs
- Based on Avira’s engine
- Doesn’t detect phishing sites well
- Limited file size
- Frequent false positives
Avira offers a decent online virus scan. It is based on Avira’s antivirus engine and works just like an installed software with the only difference – it checks only uploaded files, not the whole system.
You can upload up to five files, and their size must be less than 50 MB. You also have to leave your contact details to get the link with the results. If you need to check a website, there is an option to submit a suspicious URL.
This tool detects malicious code quite well, which is predictable since it uses an extensive Avira’s virus database. However, it is not as effective when it comes to phishing. Additionally, users often get false positives.
2. VirusTotal Online Scanner
- Allows large files scanning
- Offers a free mobile app
- Offers browser extensions
- Users can’t check several files simultaneously
- Commercial use is not permitted
Just as Avira, this provider offers a free online virus scanner both for uploaded files and suspicious websites. VirusTotal can check all kinds of files under 256 MB, even ZIP and RAR archives. One can call Virus Total the best online virus scanner for large files. Still, you can’t scan several files simultaneously, and it can be inconvenient sometimes.
Owners of Android devices can use an app to protect their gadgets and check URLs and files for threats. It is also completely free to use, and won’t hurt to install.
Moreover, VirusTotal offers Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer browser extensions that allow scanning URLs and files before you download them. It is a handy tool that will give you some additional protection online. Of course, it’s not a substitute for an antivirus. But it will work perfectly along with one.
3. MetaDefender Cloud Online Scanner
- Reliable and accurate scanner
- Chrome extension is available
- Advanced scan options
- Doesn’t allow scanning multiple files simultaneously
- No extensions for other browsers
This tool has a straightforward and easy to use interface. Just drag and drop the file and click “Analyze.” The results are displayed clearly: if there is a threat, a user will see a red mark; if the file is clean, a green mark appears.
MetaDefender Cloud allows to upload only one file at a time, and its size can’t exceed 140MB. Besides files, MetaDefender Cloud can scan by IP addresses and hash values. Additionally, it can check URLs for threats. So if you are not sure if the website is safe, MetaDefender Cloud will help you here.
It scans the file for viruses against over thirty different virus databases that are also used by such providers as McAfee, Kaspersky, and AVG. Naturally, we would trust the tool that utilizes the same sources as the most reliable antiviruses. That’s why MetaDefender Cloud is well capable of detecting all known threats.
Also, there is an extension for Chrome that will scan the downloaded files. It provides users with some additional protection.
4. FortiGuard Online Virus Scanner
- Simple interface
- Plenty of useful information on the website
- Limited file size
- Doesn’t offer browser extensions
This is the most strict tool in terms of file sizes – it allows files only under 1MB. It is slightly weird, especially considering that other scanners allow files up to 256MB. This limitation pretty much devalues all the advantages FortiGuard has.
So if your file is small enough to fit this scanner, simply choose it from your repository and check “I’m not a robot” box. Once you’ve submitted the file, you can leave your email address if you want FortiGuard to contact you about your sample.
If you want to check a bigger file, you will have to send it via email. Still, the total size of the samples can’t exceed 32MB. If you want to get a reply in a text format, enter “SCAN” in the subject line. For XML format, the subject line should be “SCAN+XML.” Later the system will email you the results.
5. Jotti’s Malware Scan
- Uses various databases by reliable providers
- Offers different languages
- Allows scanning five files simultaneously
- Inconvenient UI
- Makes users wait in line
With this scanner, you can check up to five files simultaneously. Each of them should be under 100 MB. Jotti’s Malware Scan will check files against databases of different antivirus providers such as Avast, Bitdefender, Eset, and other reliable vendors. The interface displays the status of each antivirus engine.
In addition to the file checkup, Jotti offers a hash search for those who don’t want to upload files. Of course, it will work out only for files that were scanned by this tool earlier. Still, it is a useful feature.
At the same time, Jotti’s Malware Scan has a significant downside – you might need to wait in line if many users are willing to check their files. It makes the tool rather slow. In addition to a quite ugly and not user-friendly interface, the need to wait in line is pretty much annoying.
Best Virus Scanners You’ll Have to Download First
Some popular antivirus providers offer separate scanning tools in addition to antivirus products. Importantly, they use the same scanning engine as the paid antivirus products, but would not always let you remove malicious samples after the scanning is completed. Moreover, unlike antiviruses, scanners do not offer any real-time protection but you always can install one of the best free antivirus software.
Below you will find virus scanners from reliable vendors. Even though you will need to download and install them, they will give you more freedom since you won’t be restricted in terms of file size.
1. Total AV basic scanner within the free version
Total AV is an example of the antivirus with a desktop scan which will quickly check for and kill viruses. Total AV offers this feature as a basic scan within their free version. Compared to the full version, it has limited functions. However, in terms of desktop scanners, Total AV is designed to identify the threats on your computer, find the malicious code, and remove it.
All in all, Total AV basic scan is a limited solution of the software’s free edition. However, it is powerful enough to compete with the existing virus scans and get rid of viruses decently. No cost and good results in virus removal made us rank it as the best option.
2. Eset Scanner
This simple tool will run alongside your antivirus to keep you even more secure online. It can detect viruses, Trojans, spyware, phishing, and other cyber threats. Also, it will check your computer for viruses automatically once a month. Besides, you can use Eset Antivirus (about it here).
Eset Scanner doesn’t require any registration – just download the .exe file and run it. The tool supports all versions of Windows down to XP. It requires a maximum of 400 MB of disk space and comes in different languages.
3. F-Secure Scanner
We defined F-Secure as the 3rd best free online malware scanner and removal tool. This solution with a user-friendly interface will become an excellent addition to your primary antivirus software. It doesn’t conflict with other security programs installed on your system. It is lightweight, easy to use, and rather reliable. F-Secure can detect all the known malware and other kinds of threats and remove them from your computer.
F-Secure performed very well during lab tests – it detected all the known malware. Therefore, you can be sure that this scanner will find every virus in your system. However, tests show that it doesn’t detect all the ransomware. So we recommend trusting it only when it comes to other types of malware.
4. Norton Security Scan
This solution appeared on our list due to being a lightweight and powerful scanner that can detect viruses, malware, spyware, and other threats. Nevertheless, in April 2020, it became unavailable for download. Still, we consider this virus detector very helpful.
Norton Security Scan is easy to install and use. It doesn’t require much CPU and won’t overload the system. The scanner runs quietly in the background so that it won’t interfere with your actions.
This software is almost a full antivirus. Still, it doesn’t provide the user with a needed level of protection. We strongly advise using this Security Scan to get a second opinion on false positives and suspicious files. But it shouldn’t become the only security tool you have on your computer.
If its functions appeal to you, there are several options. First, you can read details about Norton Antivirus full version or benefit from the special deal to get similar functions. You can also try finding the old version of Norton Security Scan on such software hubs as Softonic.
Virus Scanners – Frequently Asked Questions
What is an online virus scanner?
It is a tool that allows uploading files and checking them for viruses. This means that you can check only certain items, not the whole system.
While such instruments can be no doubt convenient in certain situations, they cannot replace antivirus software. They cannot protect you from malware (best anti malware software) and heal files as they get infected. Also, these tools can check the file only for known viruses. An online virus scanner isn’t able to spot suspicious behavior and detect a previously unknown threat.
How do online virus scanners work?
There are two types of online scanners. The first type contemplates scanning the files and checking them via their database. VirusTotal is a vivid example of such a program. The second type refers to the programs that you download. The engine scans your files and compares the results with the online databases. Consequently, the online connection is a must for such a scanner.
Do online scanners remove viruses?
Online scanners do not usually remove viruses. Why? They have no access to your computer or its files, thus cannot delete or kill the virus. They work as online services that let you upload the files to their database. They check them and send you their verdict. Thus, asking search engines for “free online virus scan and removal no download” is unlikely to give you a definite solution.
Are online virus scanners safe?
Not all of them are safe. We have mentioned the reliable ones. Then, how can one identify the unsafe one? Most scammers, rogue programs, or suspicious websites usually act very aggressively. Firstly, no matter what you scan, they notify you of the malware, even if there is none. Such programs attack you with pop-ups and messages saying that “your device has malware” or that it is infected. Next, they will force you to buy a solution for such a virus. Sadly, this is likely to be ransomware blocking the work of the whole computer. So, a user should be very careful when picking one.
All the scanning tools are reliable enough to check the file for known viruses and malware. They can give you a second opinion on false positives or let you feel safe unpacking an archive or launching an .exe file.
But no matter how well any of the listed scanners, both online and installed, can detect malware, they don’t ensure complete protection against all the cyber threats. You should use these tools as an addition to the primary antivirus software, not instead of it. Only this way you can be sure your computer is safe and clean from any viruses.