There are many online web scanners by different companies that offer to help you eradicate your computer malware woes. Performing these scans using them can help in that you are not just relying on one antivirus brand/engine, which is the one you should have currently installed on your system. Antivirus software are not all created equal and therefore, there might be times when your scanner might have missed something. Performing a virus scan online can help ease your mind, even if just a bit, in that your computer is as clean as it can be. Some of the biggest advantages to using these free online web scanners are that they usually don’t leave a big trail on your computer once the scanning is done and so you don’t generally have to worry about uninstalling anything other than the browser plugin or deleting that small executable file you’ve downloaded. It’s recommended that you don’t install two active virus scanners on your system. Doing so will force the two programs to compete for resources and fight each other on who scans the files. This can lead to degraded system performance and even a more vulnerable system. The problem with this situation is that you don’t really have the opportunity to scan your system with any other antivirus engine. Remember, the antivirus software you have installed now is not all mighty and so it’s a good idea from time to time to scan our systems with another virus engine to see if it missed anything. By using these online web scanners, we can do just that.
Click on any link to jump directly to a specific scanner:
With all that being said though, there are some things you have to understand. These online malware scanners are usually a one-time event. This means that they are activated manually and once the scan is completed, that’s it. They afford you no real-time protection. In other words, they can only detect (some scanners can also help you remove them) malware if they already present in your system. That is why you should never solely rely on these scanners to help completely protect your computer. For that, you need a real-time antivirus solution and I’ve listed a couple of good and free one’s here.Before performing any of these scans, although not required, please temporarily disable the antivirus software installed on your system. Remember, you don’t want them competing for resources. There’s usually not much to uninstall after the scan. You can uninstall the plugin or addon itself but that’s usually it.
Although the Windows Live OneCare product/service has been discontinued (they are still providing assistance to existing members), Microsoft is still allowing users to perform a free virus scan on their computers. However, when the OneCare service was available, it was one of the lower scoring products when compared to others. Some people used the service most likely because it had a Microsoft logo on it. I’ve personally never actually came across any clients that used OneCare. But that doesn’t mean you should completely ditch the online scanner. Give it a shot.
Head over to their website here. It’s best if you performed the scan in Internet Explorer rather than in Firefox or any other browser to avoid any problems.
Accept the service agreement. You’ll then be asked to install the scanner. Once that is completed, you’ll get to choose the scan area. You can either do a complete scan or a quick scan. Hit the Next button and the scan will proceed.
This is one of the more popular online malware scanning service available out there on the Internet. TrendMicro has been around for some time and although I personally would recommend something over it, I’ve read many great compliments given to it’s free online malware scanning service, HouseCall.
Head over to their website here. You’ll have to download a small file. At this writing, the latest version is 7.1. Download the appropriate version for your system (32bit or 64bit).
Once you open the executable, HouseCall will immediately check to see if you have an active Internet connection. If you do, it will then update its definition file along with other components.
Once it finishes updating, you’ll then be presented with the scan type dialog box. You can select to perform a quick scan, a full scan, or a custom scan. Make your selection and hit OK. The scan will then proceed.
McAfee certainly isn’t a stranger in the computer security field. In fact, they are considered one of the leaders in the industry. With FreeScan, users can freely scan their computers using McAfee’s virus scanning engine. However, as hinted on their front page, should the scan find any malware, it will provide links on how to clean it up. That means that FreeScan will only detect malware on your computer and not remove them. With that being said, it’s still a pretty good deal considering McAfee’s reputation.
Head over to their website here. You will need to run the scan in Internet Explorer.
McAfee will then need to download an ActiveX control along with some files. Although it says it’s only a 4MB file, it took some time before I saw the UAC prompt. Be patient.
You’ll then see the Scan Location dialog box. In my case, I have three choices: Drive C, My Documents and Windows Files. I’m going to guess that selecting Drive C is equivalent to a complete scan while My Documents to a quick scan. Make your selection and then hit the Scan button to begin.
When talking about leaders in the industry, you can’t leave out Symantec! I’m sure everyone at one point or another had a Symantec product installed on their computer (whether you actually wanted it there in the first place or not is besides the point). Their Norton product has been hated upon for a long time since they are considered by many to be bloated, uses a lot of resources, and basically slow in general. However, newer Norton products work a lot better as I’ve seen it firsthand. They provide Norton Security Scan free of charge.
Head over to their website here. You’ll need to be using Internet Explorer. As you can see, you have two options. You can either download and install the Norton Security Scan or continue with the Symantec Security Check. The difference between the two is that the Security Check is a one time event. It scans your system just like the other web scanners and if you want to scan your system again in the future, you’ll have to visit this site again and manually proceed. By downloading and installing Norton Security Scan, it will help you automatically scan your system once every week! We’ll proceed with a manual scan first so click on the Continue to Symantec Security Check button.
You’ll then notice that you have two choices. The Security Scan will help detect if your computer is safe from other online threats while the Virus Detection will perform the actual malware scan. Therefore, click on that to begin the virus scan.
If you want to have Norton help you scan your system automatcially once every week, you can certainly do so by downloading and installing Norton Security Scan onto your computer. Simply head back to the main page and click the Download Now button. Proceed with the installation. But remember though, this scanner can only help detect malware on your system and not remove them.
Kaspersky is one of the most awesome antivirus vendors out there. They release updates frequently and their scanning engine is very good as well. As of this writing, the Kaspersky team is working on a new and improved version of their online scanner. However, their old scanner labeled Kaspersky Online Scanner 7.0, is still fully functional. I will try to update the article when the new scanner is released.
Head over to their website here. Read over the information box and hit the Accept button. The scanner will then proceed to download a bunch of files and updates so be patient once again.
Once the updates have been completed, you can select the scan area on the left hand navigation sidebar. Critical Areas most likely equal to a quick scan while My Computer equal to a full scan. Selecting the scan area will begin the scan.
Head over to their website here. Hit the big Start Scanner button to begin. Download the plugin as usual when prompted to do so. When they say a 60 second scan, they mean it!
Head over to their website here. Accept the license and proceed to install the plugin. You’ll then be presented with the scan type dialog box. Select the appropriate option and hit Start to begin.
NOD32 is another fan favorite antivirus scanner. NOD32 and Kaspersky is recommended by a lot of other security professionals so their online scanners should kick some serious butt as well.
Head over to their website here. Click on the ESET Online Scanner button to begin. You will be prompted to download a piece of executable/plugin. Once installed, you’ll then be able to select the settings.
The ESET scanner can actually help scan your computer for potentially harmful applications! To configure the setting, click on the Advanced Settings link. From there, you can enable or disable a couple of options. Once done, click on the Start button to begin.
After the scan completes, you can actually uninstall the program. Head into Program FilesESET. Double click on the uninstall executable to proceed. You can then delete the folder afterward.