Free Online Virus Scanners

Category: Security

Even when you're not looking for an online virus scanner, ads for them appear on many Web sites. Sometimes, a free virus scanner appears to pop up out of nowhere and scares you with a message like Alert! Your PC may be infected! What should you do? Read on...

Online Virus Scanner

Should I Use an Online Virus Scanner?

What are free online virus scanners, are they safe, and should you be using one? An online virus scanner is a program that runs on a remote server. It can examine your computer for viruses and other malware through your web browser, just as a desktop antivirus program's scan would do. But an online virus scanner typically only reports what it finds. It may not be able to quarantine any viruses or spyware, or disinfect your computer.

Also, a free online virus scanner does not continually monitor incoming and outgoing Internet traffic for threats and block attempts to install unknown software. These are features found in desktop antivirus packages. To fix any problems reported by the free online virus scanner, you often must pay for a full-blown antivirus program. Now it should be obvious why there are so many free online virus scanners out there! But many of them are wolves in sheep's clothing.

So-called "rogue online virus scanners" always find lots of malware on any computer they scan. They scare the heck out you with jittering popup windows, with warnings screaming in blinking red and yellow letters, "ALERT! WARNING! DANGER! YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED WITH MALWARE!" or "YOU NEED TO BUY OUR VIRUS REMOVAL PROGRAM RIGHT NOW! CLICK HERE BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!"

Or something along those lines. The idea is to alarm and panic you into buying the software without taking time to think. But there is much to think about!

Some Safe Online Virus Scanners

Do you know anything about the company that just informed you that you have a major malware problem? Free online virus scanners are offered by well-known security software developers, such as the ones listed below; the website addresses are also shown and you should be careful that you go to these authentic sites:

Remember, free online virus scanners are typically lead-ins to purchases of commercial antivirus software that actually neutralizes the threats found. If you are a non-commercial user, you really don't have to pay for top-notch antivirus protection.

You won't find free online virus scanners at the Web sites of AVG, Avast, and other "free for non-commercial use" antivirus software developers. That's because their full-blown desktop versions are available for you to download, use fully, and then buy if you are satisfied. Check out my list of free anti-virus programs here.

Free online virus scanners are safe and effective if you stick to known brands. You must also carefully check the website address before running any online virus scanner. It may look like a well-known brand's page, but one character's difference in the URL can mean that you're about to download a virus instead of its cure. In general, if a virus scanner finds YOU before you find IT, it's probably best to back away. And if you already have a good desktop anti-virus program, use an online scanner only if you feel you need a second opinion.

Do you have something to say about online virus scanners?

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Most recent comments on "Free Online Virus Scanners"

Posted by:

Chris Buechler
15 Jun 2010

In addition to the ones that scan your whole PC, there are at least two good options you can use to scan specific files. I always scan downloads using VirusTotal and Jotti.

They run files through numerous antivirus engines. Any one particular antivirus is highly ineffective, but checking numerous ones as those sites do is generally effective.

Not a solution to scan your entire PC though, just individual files. Great for downloads, I would strongly suggest using one of those for downloads before running them.

Posted by:

16 Jun 2010

Two other free scanners are Malwarebytes and SuperAntispyware. They both offer free versions that can reside on your computer. Prior to each use just update their respective database and run the scan.

Posted by:

16 Jun 2010

I recommend They have free anti virus software that provides great protection for your pc.

Posted by:

michael egerton
16 Jun 2010 give useful online scans including one called BlackLight and gives extra security with online banking sites.

Posted by:

16 Jun 2010

two online AV'S that are safe & are used full time
as a regular a AV are
Immunet Protect & Panda Cloud

Posted by:

16 Jun 2010

I noticed no mention of Microsoft Security Essentials. Why? A free anti-virus/malware program from a giant like microsoft, and no mention?

EDITOR'S NOTE: MSE is not an online scanner. You must download and install it to your desktop. I did mention MSE in my Free Antivirus Programs article. See

Posted by:

Lee Doan
16 Jun 2010

Kaspersky Online Virus Scan has not been available for quite some time. I keep going to their website and they have a blurb that says: "Coming Soon" -and that it is unavailable. It has been that way for a long time. They are trying to get us to buy Kaspersky Internet Security 2010.

Posted by:

16 Jun 2010

Tell me, are Cybervillians residents of Cyberville? I don't believe I would buy software from someone who can't spell!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Where did you see that word? It doesn't appear in the text of my article here...

Posted by:

M McQuown
16 Jun 2010

It was precisely the thing you cited: hysterical red screen with yellow image of a disintegrating biohazard symbol every time I turned on the computer that drove me to Linux. Windows wanted me to get This software; Internet Explorer wanted me to get That software; Verizon wanted me to get the Other software. Enough was enough!

Posted by:

Al Stevenson
17 Jun 2010

At the end of the article there is a link to a free scan. I suspect it is also designed to sell the product.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Not in the text of the article. But if it says "Sponsored Links" or somesuch, then I'm sure you're right.

Posted by:

Dan Sparks
17 Jun 2010

How accurate/thorough is the evaluation of antivirus software that is done by Consumer Reports? I like CR, but sometimes companies spread themselves out too thin and lose depth and accuracy.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Not sure. I'm sure they try to hire competent people to evaluate computer products, but I'd rather rely on a more authoritative source such as AC-Test. See

Posted by:

22 Jun 2010

how about BITDEFENDER from is agood antivir...

Posted by:

M McQuown
05 Aug 2010

What's your take on 'Finallyfast' and other programs of that type? Are they legit? Effective? A scam?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't think the "speed up your computer" tools are worthwhile. because you can do it yourself, for free. See

Posted by:

Shiloh Shane
15 Aug 2010

Are you still liking Ad-Aware? I have a paid version, but unfortunately it's not compatible w/ Windows 7 86 bit. You'd think they'd get their act together & do something about it.

I just ran MBAM per your recommendation & it found one object that neither Defender nor MSE found, so I'm hooked now, thanks to you.

EDITOR'S NOTE: You have 86-bit Windows? I hope you meant 64-bit... :-) Anyway, my gut feeling is that Ad-Aware has fallen behind the curve, and there are better options now.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Free Online Virus Scanners (Posted: 15 Jun 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved