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.
To find the answer, you should first understand what an online virus scanner is. 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 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.
Therefore, we advise 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.
But if the only reason you don’t install an antivirus software is its price, then you should consider free options reputable companies offer. Of course, such programs will have a limited set of features, but they will provide you with decent protection at no cost.
Top-5 Truly Online Virus Scanners
Here are the most reliable providers that offer a free online virus scan and removal, and require no download.
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 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.
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. But 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.
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 Cloudallows 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.
FortiGuard Online Virus Scanner
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.
Jotti’s Malware Scan
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. 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.
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.
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.
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 400 MB of disk space and comes in different languages.
Norton Security Scan
This well-known provider offers a lightweight and powerful scanner that can detect viruses, malware, spyware, and other threats. Norton even upgraded this tool recently with the Cookie Manager that will check cookies for malicious code.
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 on 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.
This scanner with a user-friendly interface will become an excellent addition to your primary antivirus software. This tool 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.
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.