Five Free Online Virus Scan Options

Michael Kwan
Virus warning

No-cost online virus scanning programs can be beneficial in some situations. If you don't have an antivirus program installed on your computer and feel your computer is infected, a free program can help you troubleshoot. Maybe you have a virus protection program on your computer and you think it may have let a virus through. Sometimes even technical support gurus use free virus scanners to check computers without antivirus programs installed because they are simple to use and quick to load. Whatever your reason for using a free online virus scan, they can be useful for quick checks.

Five No-Cost Online Virus Scanners

While the Internet may also be the source of viruses, worms, Trojans, and other malicious content, it also provides a wealth of online virus scanning services that can check your computer for free.

Trend Micro House Call

Instead of working within a web browser, House Call by Trend Micro is a free program that you can download and install on your computer. House Call can be used to run full scans of your computer's hard drive, but it can also be used to scan a specific file, folder, or external hard drive. The amount of time that it takes to scan will depend on your system's performance and the number of files that need to be scanned. There is a "Quick Scan" feature that will only search through the list of folders and files that are usually targets of malware and spyware, like critical system areas.

Trend Micro's House Call is available for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Microsoft's operating system. There are also more powerful computer security programs available for purchase, like Trend Micro's Titanium Antivirus +.

Kapersky File Scanner

There are actually three free virus scan programs offered by Kapersky, all of which can be downloaded from the Kapersky Free Virus Scan page. Kapersky Virus Removal Tool is designed to remove all types of infections from your computer using the same algorithms utilized by Kapersky Anti-Virus and AVZ. Kapersky says that it is not a suitable substitute for a resident antivirus application, but it is a good start. This is why Kapersky recommends buying the full antivirus product.

Additionally, Kapersky has the Kapersky Rescue Disk to scan, disinfect and restore infected operating systems, as well as the Kaspersky Security Scan, which seeks out viruses and other threats that may be hidden on your computer's hard drive. To download any of these tools, you will need to provide Kapersky with your e-mail address, first name and last name.

These programs are compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Norton Security Scan

Norton/Symantec offers two options for a free online virus scan. First, there is the Norton Security Scan, which is software that must be downloaded and installed on your computer to work. It will automatically scan your computer every week, looking for viruses and other threats.

Second, there are a pair of online scanning tools that are collectively known as the Symantec Security Check. There is a Security Scan and there is a Virus Detection tool. The former features a hacker exposure check, Windows vulnerability check, Trojan horse check, antivirus product check and a virus protection update check. The latter looks for known threats, including a range of viruses. The two tools are best used in tandem for optimal protection and they both work best with Windows and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

BitDefender QuickScan

Not requiring a local installation of any software, BitDefender QuickScan works directly from your Internet-connected web browser. This makes it a good option for a fast scan of the system for viruses and spyware. QuickScan utilizes "in-the-cloud scanning technologies" to complete a scan, usually taking less than 60 seconds. The BitDefender scanner even checks your installed antivirus program to make sure it is up-to-date and running properly.

BitDefender also offers full fee-based security programs for Windows and Mac, as well as for mobile devices. These range from relatively simple antivirus programs all the way up to very comprehensive total security suites.

Comodo AV Scanner

Comodo is a company that is best known for its firewall products, but it also offers a free online scanner that can be used to seek out viruses, spyware and Trojans. It is not technically a locally-installed antivirus program, but it does require you to install a small browser plug-in. The installation is a one-time operation and typically takes between three and four minutes to complete. After that, the online scans can be run immediately. The malware database is updated constantly, so you can rest assured that you are being protected against the most up-to-date threats.

This program only scans - it does not actually clean out any of the viruses or malware it finds. For that, you must buy the Comodo Internet Security Pro package, which has built-in antivirus, host intrusion prevention and firewall functionality. It also offers a feature called TrustConnect, which provides security when using public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Insufficient Protection

While the idea of a free virus program can be appealing, it's important to realize that these no-cost applications are not sufficient to protect your computer and the data stored on it. Free virus scans from online sources do provide the benefits of being free, uncomplicated to use and quick, but they really are not sufficient.

  • Since online scanners don't run continually in the background, it is possible that you could get a virus on your computer that does damage before you even realize it's there.
  • It is possible that connecting to the Internet to run a free scan could perpetuate or exacerbate the infection.
  • Some online virus scanners will only find infections, but will not remove them.
  • A simple antivirus program may not protect you against malware.

While free online virus scanning programs can serve a purpose, nothing beats having a full, comprehensive security suite running in the background, constantly checking your computer for threats. You can usually download free trials of the major retail brands that last for 30 days. These are full-functioning versions to help you decide which one is best for you and your computer.

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Five Free Online Virus Scan Options