Skip to main content

Top Free Online Virus Scan Services

Online Virus Scan Services: Pros and cons

Free online virus scan is a very popular service among all PC users worldwide. The reasons are obvious - always up-to-date antivirus signature databases, ease of use, simple interface which even novice users find comfortable to work with (because all it takes to run a scanner is a couple of mouse clicks), quite wide choice of scanners at no cost.

Nowadays all big name antivirus companies offer some kind of online scan for present and future customers. It is also part of marketing strategy exploited to attract buyers. Whenever a free online virus scan finds and removes some infection, it is natural to suggest that a paid installation of antivirus would do real miracles to data safety and protection. A very effective on-going advertising campaign, isn't it? ;)

Anyway, it would be foolish not to use the option of online virus scan if such can help when your PC security is questioned.

Online scanners have quite significant advantages over dekstop installations of traditional antivirus software and PC security suites, to name just a few:

  • Always free to use! No demo versions, no trials, no registration keys to enter.
  • Online virus scanner cannot be corrupted by infections hiding somewhere inside Windows files, while this does happen to on-disk installations of PC security software. Some sophisticated malware can easily damage antivirus software installed under Windows and make it absolutely useless.
  • There's a choice of services so you can always decide what you want specifically to be done in each case. Online scan services allow for removal of rootkits, spyware and other threats in addition to virus infections. But you can't really install several antivirus applications under Windows simultaneously (some techies suggest that you can use 2 antivirus softwares installed side-by-side, but you may find resident scanners 'fighting' in memory to kick each other out of RAM space).
  • Sometimes you can't install an antivirus because the already infected Windows ruins the setup process. This is when you either go for a CD-bootable anti-virus, or load a browser and initiate an online virus scan.
  • If you dislike some particular online virus scanner, there's no need to go through a removal process like installed programs require. Downloaded antivirus signatures are kept as temporary files, so they're easily removed from the hard drive via settings of a browser. There are no changes made to the sensitive Windows registry (arguably the most vulnerable part of Windows).

With all that said, I can't leave the negative points beyond. There are some:

  • Online scanners cannot perform when there's no stable Internet connection. If a virus messes up the TCP/IP configuration, chances are you will not be able to use online scan service.
  • A browser will require certain privileges on part of the user for the online scan to perform. If privileges are limited and there are no sufficient rights under user account to download signature files, etc, online antivirus will be unusable. So user accounts with restricted rights may experience a problem.
  • Smart virus can prevent online scan from running.
  • Online virus scan cannot prevent future infections.
  • Not all online virus scan service offers removal of detected malware - some only report the found infections.
  • Because most online virus scanners depend on Internet Explorer and ActiveX, it may be necessary to repeat the scan after restarting computer, and/or switching to another scanner. This is because malware often corrupts IE system files and injects malicious code into IE settings, so it is not always possible for the scanner to remove all detected threats at once. Some malicious entries are left, but the dependence of alien files is broken, so the next time you load up the scanner, it procedes with the removal process and cleans out the PC.

Below I'm listing most popular (in my opinion) services offering free online virus scan.

TrendMicro Housecall

TrendMicro Housecall

Trend Micro HouseCall

Trend Micro HouseCall offers a free online virus and spyware scan. This is the service you'll most likely see recommended in first place on many PC security related forums. It is indeed that popular! TrendMicro scan goes far beyond bare virus detection, supports Windows and Mac based computers, Mozilla and Internet Explorer browsers. Important: you can choose from either ActiveX engine or Java engine. These set of options make this online scan very versatile. Currently there's a new version available for testing ;)

Go to Trend Micro Housecall:

BitDefender Online Virus Scan

BitDefender Online Virus Scan

BitDefender Online Scan

BitDefender appeals to my aesthetics - I like its interface. It works in two modes - simple and advanced, depending on how much information you want displayed. The progress bar is very convenient. It shows the number of scanned files, infections, and actions taken. Besides, BitDefender allows send a report to their security lab once the scan is finished and there is a virus detected, thus you can help this great product become even better ;) The drawback is that it supports IE browser only. For a Firefox fan like me it's not that convenient. But it is indeed a powerful service, which I've seen detect infections other products failed to.

Another great feature of BitDefender is the ability to choose directories for scanning. Say, if you have several HDD partitions, you can limit scanning to C:\Windows and My Documents, where malware is most likely to be living. This option can significantly reduce the time compared to the full computer scan.

Go to BitDefender Online Scan:

McAfee FreeScan

McAfee FreeScan

McAfee FreeScan

McAfee FreeScan is the name! I guess it is the synonym for computer security in the US ;) Like a narrative. The scanning service is solid as everything produced by the brand. As to cons, it requires IE 5.0+ and works with ActiveX controls only. If ActiveX is disabled, than you can't use the service.

Scroll to Continue

McAfee FreeScan offers a browser window with real-time statistics - number of files scanned, infections, name of detected virus.

Go to McAfee Security Scan Plus:

McAfee Security Scan does not allow for infections removal.

McAfee FreeScan Progress Window

McAfee FreeScan Progress Window

F-Secure Online Virus Scanner

F-Secure Online Virus Scanner

F-Secure Free Online Scanner

F-Secure offers to scan a PC for common infections like virus and rootkits. It also removes the found infections. However, F-Secure needs Internet Explorer to run, and doesn't have support for Firefox as of yet. But fans of Internet Explorer 7 may happily use this service ;)

Windows Vista is supported in addition to previous Windows versions.

Go to F-Secure Free Online Scanner:

ESET NOD32 Online Antivirus Scanner

ESET's Online Antivirus Scanner uses its patented ThreatSense technology which is featured in company's desktop and server products. Initial download of antivirus signature database takes under a minute if you're on a broadband. ESET offers to remove the detected infections - for this you need to check the proper boxes (see screenshots below). Spyware is removed as well! NOD32 Scanner works only with ActiveX so it requires Internet Explorer (as most online virus scan services do).

Go to FREE ESET Online Scanner:

ESET Online Antivirus Scanner Steps

ESET Online Antivirus Scanner Steps

ESET Online Antivirus Scanner Progress Window

ESET Online Antivirus Scanner Progress Window


Panda ActiveScan 2.0 - Free Antivirus

Panda security software maker offers anyone to try out its TruPrevent technology. With a database of 185,000 threats its online scan can detect a huge number of infections. Also scans for spyware modules (like dialers, jokes, rootkits, etc).

Panda claims to be able to disinfect the known spyware (sadly, this is no longer true for a free edition), and thanks to its heuristic engine, it detects even unknown types of malware.

The antivius database is updated daily.

Optionally you can place a shortuct on your desktop to connect to Panda ActiveScan whenever you need to, without opening a browser window.

Note: if you have antivirus software installed with resident monitoring ON, it may report a virus in Panda downloadable files. Do not worry! This is a common false-positive. The reason is that Panda doesn't encrypt its database of antivirus definitions, and when it is being downloaded onto your PC, a stand-alone AV can decide you're getting infected. Other security vendors set some kind of encryption to its malware definitions so that no third party AV software is able to detect the virus signatures inside archives. Rest assured that Panda is not infecting your PC.

Go to Panda ActiveScan:

Panda ActiveScan Free Antivirus does not allow for infections removal.

Panda ActiveScan Online

Panda ActiveScan Online

Online Virus Scans for Separate Files

Apart from listed above virus scans, there sometimes rises a need to check the safety of one single file. To do it quickly, it is best to use a special service for scanning separate files - without the need to download anti virus definitions.

Among such services the following are worth mentioning.

Avast! Online Scanner.

There's a captcha to be entered in order to scan a file. All you need to do is just browse for the target file on your PC, enter the captcha and press 'Scan' button.

Go to Avast! Online Virus Scanner:

DrWeb Online Scan.

DrWeb is another PC security product from Russia. The desktop version of DrWeb is very popular in Russia and CIS countries - and there must be serious reasons for that. DrWeb offers to scan single files - the webpage is as simple as possible, there's nothing on it except the "browse" button to specify the path to the target file.

Go to DrWeb Web Scanner:


VirusTotal deserves special attention. It provides interface in multiple languages. It's anti virus definitions database in compiled by biggest PC security software developers - that is, a single scan equals to simultaneous scanning with different antivirus engines.

The cool thing about this service is that it allows to send files for scan via email and even add a command to your right-mouse context menu! (Windows users only) That way you can send a file for a thorough scan just by right-clicking mouse.

Go to VirusTotal Scanning Service:

Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner

Windows Live OneCare is available both in a desktop version and an online virus scanner. The latter allows to check hard drive for unnecessary files and delete them, and also tests the strength of PC security setup.

As you can guess for sure Microsoft requires Internet Explorer to be used for running Windows Live OneCare scanner.

Go to: Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner:

EMSISOFT Web Malware Scan

It's been a couple of months since EMSISOFT updated it's desktop a-squared anti-malware to version 4.0, and now the company decided to join the army of online virus scanners!

EMSISOFT web malware scanner offers anyone to check computers for Trojan Viruses, Worms, Backdoors, Rootkits, Spyware/Adware, Keyloggers, Dialers, Hacking Tools, Riskware and TrackingCookies. All you need to run this tool is Internet Explorer with ActiveX enabled and a stable Internet connection.

EMSISOFT online scanner requirements:

  • Windows XP or Windows Vista;
  • Internet Explorer 5.0+
  • User account with administrator privileges;
  • 32-bit system .

Upon first scan you will be prompted to install a-squared ActiveX components. Agree to that.

  • EMSISOFT Anti-malware v6.0
    Emsisoft Anti-Malware is a Malware scanner and remover of the latest generation which is specialized in Trojans, Dialers and Spyware. Native support for Windows 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Multilingual user interface.

EMSISOFT Web Malware Scan Modes

Just like the desktop version of EMSISOFT anti-malware, the web scanner will offer to choose from 4 types of scan:

  • Quick scan;
  • Smart scan;
  • Deep scan;
  • Custom scan.

Quick scan is meant for fast checking of Windows most sensitive areas, like Windows and System32 folders, Documents and Settings, system memory, and the Registry.

Smart scan also checks Program Files for malicious software installers.

Deep scan takes the longest to complete because it is a thorough check of all hard drive space, byte-by-byte to ensure not a single piece of malware is hiding in the system.

Custom scan allows you to choose which specific folders to check for malware presence.

The web malware scanner window conveniently displays the number of definitions loaded, and the date when latest updates were added to the database.

EMSISOFT offers a new a-squared free malware removal tool with web interface.

Go to: EMSISOFT Web Malware Scan:


Drw BreakinG on June 22, 2012:

thinxxx :)

DarK Knight on March 25, 2012:

Kaspersky for life.

George D on January 03, 2012:

Great article. I tried several of these scanners but I had no luck. I gave up and called these guys and they finally removed it. Took them 3 hours so it wasn't easy.

charlemont (author) from Lithuania on January 01, 2012:

infected, can you tell what kind of infection you're trying to get rid of?

infected on January 01, 2012:

i have tried many of these and they are not working at all *yet*. if any work i will post again...

shomii on December 09, 2011:

i like it very much

charlemont (author) from Lithuania on November 07, 2011:

kb, I replied to your post in the comments section of this hub:

kb on November 07, 2011:

Hello Charlemont, glad to find you! Hope you can help, have unknown virus, literally sqeals like a pig. Will not allow the opening of any program. I am in safe mode, attempted to execute HiJackthis, got as far as the terms and conditions but could not figure out how to agree to them and get past. I should mention I am runnig in safe mode and my font is HUGE! Help please!

yoyo on October 19, 2011:


Dr Rockpile from USA on October 02, 2011:

I'm usually leery of free virus scan services. It's nice to see a list of legit ones.

Roger on August 10, 2011:

mr jassi gill..scan it online first.

mr jassi gill on June 28, 2011:

yaar virus pc main koi vee antivirus install hone nhi deta ?????????what,s problem yaar????????????????????

deblipp on March 21, 2011:

I've been using Avira and it consistently catches things my other scanners haven't caught.

charlemont (author) from Lithuania on February 25, 2011:

al thanks for drawing my attention to it. I've updated links and added notes for scanners that do not allow for malware removal. Kaspersky online virus scan has been dropped off so I removed it whatsoever.

al on February 25, 2011:

All this is very messy.

A simpler review is needed, and, moreover, need to point

clearly if it's only detection or removal/desinfection is available.

charlemont (author) from Lithuania on January 12, 2011:

Thanks for letting me know about the changes made to Panda online virus scanner. Indeed they removed disinfection from the list of features available in a free version.

to charlemont on January 11, 2011:

Panda has changed their free online version to "Scan only" like Kapersky did, so Panda no longer removes viruses for free. To remove any viruses, you'll have to pay to full version of software.

NEiL on January 09, 2011:

Hey...Great job, man.

I was having a lot of problems opening files on my computer, but after i ran trend micro housecall; everything was dandy!

thanks for the effort.....

isanknut on December 25, 2010:

i guess nod online scan is a winner in asia. My best experience with antivirus program is AVG and NOD is a god nr2!Avast i have not tried yet.

ACS on October 29, 2010:

avg is a so-so for me..i have xp. and even though its free,it makes you keep re installing it to keep it going as the free only lasts 30 days max.

n.r on October 01, 2010:

thanks for such o tremendous antiviruses

Eric on August 18, 2010:

The fact of the matter is that most virus checkers can only identify about 20 percent of the threats out there. The best thing to do is make sure you use safe internet. Safe internet practices will protect your PC far more than any antivirus tool. If you need a tool ClamWin is free and ranks among the best in virus discovery, although lacking the many of the user interface features of proprietary offering this little scanner does offer point and click scanning and other such comfort features.

In the future I would like to see virus scanners not only detect viruses but files that are prone to infection and out of date. For instance if there is a popular software or bios that is out of date a poses a security risk then a vulnerability scan should pick that up. This is most likely already being done -- but I have reviewed all the most recent packages yet.

Thomas J Thomas on August 17, 2010:

To Charlemont....A very well written, and informative guide. Thank you very much for the research and information.

Imho the "secondary" online scanner is the future, Once again Charlemont Thank You.....EXCELLENT

fdfdf on August 06, 2010:

trend micro is the best !

charlemont (author) from Lithuania on June 01, 2010:

Susa, chanced are you MAC doesn't need any scanners. I believe software makers don't find MAC's to be as prone to infections as PC's.

Susa on May 30, 2010:

I can't find the version for MAC, just pc?

R_Dub on April 20, 2010:

This might be a good site to check out for you, should you wish to try other scanners:

charlemont (author) from Lithuania on March 15, 2010:

smiley, I've checked with Windows XP and there's no folder C:\Windows\Installer\

Are you using any different version of Windows? The folder might be hidden.

smiley on March 15, 2010:

hi and thanks for the great write up!

just wondering, my avg scan found "aedupont.dll," a "Trojan horse Downloader.Generic9.BBYW" in C:\Windows\Installer\1fdca4e.msi:\\aedupont.dll.

Anyone recognize this? And how can I access the "Installer" folder? I can't see it in the Windows folder.

Thanks a lot!

JenArt on March 12, 2010:

I always use Kaspersky but they are currently down. I believe they are updating/upgrading. For now, they offer a free file scan, but I want to do a full deep scan on my son's computer. Ended up here while searching, and just want to say THANKS for the great research! I think I'll try several different scans, just to be safe. Thank you again for your dedication to this topic!

shinujohn2008 on December 29, 2009:

AVG is one of the best trusted companies in case of anti virus providers

niponbharali on December 16, 2009:

a great deal of false positive from a squared free.remove it from your list

iskra1916 from Belfast, Ireland. on November 03, 2009:

excellent informative hub !

samironwebtrack on October 03, 2009:

wow, it's a gr8 hub, i was looking for the same information which you post over here...thanks a lot.

Freestuff11 on July 23, 2009:

17 viruses!!!

Freestuff11 on July 23, 2009:

Awesome! I REALLY hate those "free scans" I BET THEY PUT VIRUSES INTO YOUR COMPUTER TO MAKE YOU BUY IT! Finnaly, i'll be out of this "special safemode" that allows me to play games, get on the internet and do pretty much anything! THANK YOU!!!!

Dot2Kode on July 09, 2009:

Thanks for the info!

@Hemanth wtf? wasting your time? Your wasting your time for posting a stupid comment like that.

Hemanth on April 29, 2009:


I have no idea why you are wasting your time on this! Are you doing a professional research on computer malware?


eng:abdel nasser on April 15, 2009:

good list for online virus scan services,thanks for that good work.

dwi on April 12, 2009:

nice thing you do here, I appreciate it, thank you. GBU.

charlemont (author) from Lithuania on April 07, 2009:

Sora, viyozeji.dll is not a valid system file so it's safe to remove it. If the fike is not there, then the error is caused by some registry reference which needs to be removed. Normally anti-malware programs are capable of removing invalid paths.

Sora on April 07, 2009:

I do not understand all of this, but I know that this trojan is annoying. It is called viyozeji.dll. The path is C:\WINDOWS\system32. I doubt these virus removers can derezz this trojan.

bcdemon on March 16, 2009:

Great list, Nice breakdown of System Scanners and Single File Scanners.

Don't trust just one online scan though. I have used 3 different scanners (F-Secure, Kaspersky,Bitdefender) on a single PC and each scanner picked up on different virus/trojans/spyware.

Thanks again for your wonderful work.

nejesh on March 12, 2009:

i have a mac system dual boot with win xp which is corrupted now i need the antivirus which work in mac

tomr on February 17, 2009:

Attackers are well-aware of the valuable information accessible through Web applications, andtheir attempts to get at it are often unwittingly assisted by several important factors.Conscientious organizations carefully protect their perimeters with intrusion detection systemsand firewalls, but these firewalls must keep ports 80 and 443 (SSL) open to conduct onlinebusiness. These ports represent open doors to attackers, who have figured out thousands ofways to penetrate Web applications.The standard security measures for protecting network traffic, network firewalls and IntrusionPrevention Systems (IPS) and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), do not offer a solution toapplication level threats. Network firewalls are designed to secure the internal networkperimeter, leaving organizations vulnerable to various application attacks.Intrusion Prevention and Detection Systems (IDS/IPS) do not provide thorough analysis ofpacket contents. Applications without an added layer of protection increase the risk of harmfulattacks and extreme vulnerabilities.Web Application Level Attacks is the Achilles heel. In the past, security breaches occurred at thenetwork level of the corporate systems. Today, hackers are manipulating web applicationsinside the corporate firewall. This entry enables them to access sensitive corporate andcustomer data. An experienced hacker can break into most commercial websites with even thesmallest hole in a company’s website application code. These sophisticated attacks havebecome increasingly threatening to organizations.I recommend a service call GamaSec ( remote online web vulnerability-assessment servicethat tests web servers, web-interfaced systems and web-based applications against thousandsof known vulnerabilities with dynamic testing, and by simulating web-application attacks duringonline scanning. The service identifies security vulnerabilities and produces recommendedsolutions that can fix, or provide a viable workaround to the identified vulnerabilities

Vulnerability scanner does automated search for security weaknesses in web applications and theirs services and reports them in details about possible vulnerabilities and probable defense or ways to prevent it

lumiere on February 11, 2009:

yeah that's right

needful things from Poland on January 04, 2009:

Yep yep yep AVG is quite good. Kapersky is I think better. Thumbs up.

chiphoi on December 20, 2008:

thanks for your list, u did a great job!

Steve on December 16, 2008:

Avira AntiVir Free Edition is the best virus protection that you can get for free. The Eset Online Scanner is by far the best for Detection/Removal

YJ on December 12, 2008:

its cool research .

kaspersky is besttttttttt.

Tariq on November 25, 2008:

Great list of free scans...Its a shame that many companys offer free scans and people are duped into thinking that they are having a free scan when after the scan it asks for cash to clenn delete system problems...!!

tariq on November 25, 2008:

Excellent stuff. Found your Hub searching on Yahoo for just this kind of information. Thanks

brad4l from USA on November 17, 2008:

Awesome List. The only one I have tried before is the Trend Micro one. The online scanner is a really good tool that has helped me a couple of times when working on computers.

Edouard on September 02, 2008:

Hey, pretty, nice 'job' you've done in making this!!! 'sure proved useful for me! Thanx, Do Keep Up the good work and More Power to You... !!!

wildstuff on September 02, 2008:

Excellent stuff. Found your Hub searching on Yahoo for just this kind of information. Thanks

AndyBaker from UK on September 01, 2008:

I really recommend AVG - am using their free AV on both desktop and latop - works well and is very effective.

Shawn on August 02, 2008:

Every once in a while I'll run every single online scanner there is just to make sure I'm getting everything. With Bitdefender you need to set your security settings in IE7 to medium using the custm setting, not medium/high with default like they say on their troubleshooting page. Also you can no longer add them to trusted sites as you can only add https prefix to that zone, not http. It's good you mention the sites that require CAPTCHA so that blind users know not to waste their time navigating to those sites. Bitdefender also has a CAPTCHA to leave feedback.

sabrina on July 11, 2008:

compu-smart is absolutely right. Those website deceive you to download after the scanning progress it urges you to buy the software like spywaredoctor for instance. Thanks for posting those free softwares charlemont. You have done very good research on this topic. Few really good online scanner Which I knew were the Avast and AVG but nowdays AVG is not doing good job like some of the other scanners.

Metahuman on July 08, 2008:

Hey there! You have a good list too. =)

Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD from Tumkur on July 06, 2008:

A 'thumb up' to this painstaking effort. You have done lot of research to ensure this much effort. Hats off to your goodwill!

douchrti on July 02, 2008:

Great Hub!

Ive used AVG and Avast with great results on my XP machines.

You really have to make sure youre safe online nowadays.

IndiGenus on June 26, 2008:

Great list charlemont. One thing to note is Kaspersky just updated to run using Java. It is my favorite with as you said, it is very thorough. And I like fixing things myself so the fact that it doesn't make any changes is good too. Thanks

bingo on June 17, 2008:


moonlake from America on June 01, 2008:

Great hub. I always use Trend didn't know about the other online scans.

BeatsMe on May 18, 2008:

I wasn't aware there were free online scanners. Thanks for the info.

Patnet from San Diego Area on May 06, 2008:

Yes, thanks for the list. I've used the online Kapersky and like it. These free scanners are convenient for all the free PLR content I get in all the various "giveaways" going on.

charlemont (author) from Lithuania on April 09, 2008:

Thank you for commenting, MOmmagus!

MOmmagus on April 08, 2008:

Very useful info., thanks!

charlemont (author) from Lithuania on April 01, 2008:

These are 100% free as I've tested them personally =) But I've seen a couple of websites screaming about 'free' scanning while omitting the fact of paid removal and desinfection.

Tony Sky from London UK on April 01, 2008:

Great list of free scans...Its a shame that many companys offer free scans and people are duped into thinking that they are having a free scan when after the scan it asks for cash to clenn delete system problems...!!


charlemont (author) from Lithuania on March 31, 2008:

I will sure add AVG as well ;) Czech programmers are really cool antivirus makers, they offer Avast and AVG for free.

Eileen Hughes from Northam Western Australia on March 27, 2008:

AVG is another free one which I use and have found it picks everything up.

Related Articles