Free online virus and malware scanners

By | May 22, 2011
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For years now, we’ve featured Trend Micro’s “Housecall” as our recommended online virus and spyware scanner. We’ve always encouraged you to run it once a week to double-check your installed anti-virus and anti-spyware programs to make sure they haven’t missed anything. And, we still recommend Housecall as a free online scanner. But, we thought you ought to know that there are many other good ones on the Web you can use. Most of them require Internet Explorer 7 or higher to work. Most of these scanners also work with current versions of Firefox, Mozilla, and Chrome.

Here is a short list of good, reputable, online virus and spyware scanners you can use to double-check your system once a week to make sure that your installed anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are doing their jobs. If they are, then the online scans will turn up nothing, if they aren’t then you’ll be glad you ran the online scanner, won’t you?

One more thing, before we move on to the short list: Never install more than one anti-virus program on your computer. Online anti-virus scanners are different. Most use an Active-X or Java component that interfaces with the scanning application which runs from a Web server. You don’t have to worry about the “no more than one anti-virus program installed” rule because you’re really not installing another anti-virus program, even though you might have to download a small Java or Active-X component to run the online scanner.

BitDefender Online Virus & Spyware Scanner
Free and effective malware cleanup directly from your browser – Incorporating the BitDefender award-winning scanning engines, BitDefender Online Scanner is an on-demand antivirus and antispyware tool that shows how safe your PC is. Accessible from your browser, it will scan and automatically clean the system memory, all files and drives’ boot sectors.

One major advantage of BitDefender Online Scanner is that you can use it without having to uninstall your existing data security product…

F-Secure Online Virus Scanner
F-Secure is a lesser-known anti-virus developer. Their anti-virus products always seem to rate fairly well in independent antivirus tests. They’ve been around for a long time and have a good reputation. F-Secure’s online scanner is a virus scanner only; it does not scan for spyware.

ESET Online Virus and Spyware Scanner
ESET is the maker of  NOD32® Antivirus. NOD32 is consistently rated near or at the top in independent test results. While you may never have heard of ESET or NOD32, in independent tests, NOD32 almost always ranks at the top of all anti-virus software. If you want to double-check your current anti-virus program, this is the scanner many experts would recommend. NOD32 is an excellent, highly-awarded anti-virus program, and there’s no reason to think that their online scanner isn’t one of the best too. ESET Online Virus Scanner also includes a spyware scan. We highly recommend this one.

CA Online Virus Scanner
Before everything in the world became acronymized, CA was known as Computer Associates. They are one of the oldest security companies on the Web – but in recent years they’ve not kept pace with other companies and CA (Computer Associates) is not the major player in the security software field it used to be. CA provides RoadRunner customers with a free security suite, but like most suites, it is annoying and not particularly effective. CA makes, at best, a middle-of-the-road class of security programs. Their online scanner does include an anti-spyware scan, so you might want to at least take a look. We’re listing CA here only to provide you with another option.

Panda Online Virus and Malware Scan
We don’t know what to say about Panda. They’ve been around for a long time but never seem to be able to crack into the “household name” category. Their products are decent, well-rated, and effective, but they never seem to get out of the niche group. Their Web site is attractive and well designed and their scanner is more than functional. Certainly worth a scan or two. Panda’s online scanner can detect rootkits, viruses, Trojans, spyware and other malware. They claim to have a new technology that sees things other security software does not. I see things other people don’t see and EB calls me crazy. So seeing things others don’t see might be a good thing 🙂

Of course there are probably a dozen or so other online scanners out there – of varying efficacy. If you want to try them, you do so at your own risk, some may not be on the up-and-up. Beware.

And, this article would be remiss if we didn’t point out that the ubiquitous Norton and McAfee have joined in the online scanning craze. While we would never use either, we can assume that during the scan you will be bombarded with messages urging you to buy Norton/McAfee or else your computer will melt and ruin your carpet and your shoes. Sorry Norton and McAfee, we just ain’t buying your bloated, over-priced, under-performing, resource hogging, computer-clogging software. How’s that for a rave review?

4 thoughts on “Free online virus and malware scanners

  1. Sarah

    I am curious that you say Hosecall is the best virus and spyware scanner but you didnt give the link to it like the other ones you said were good

    1. infoave Post author

      I don’t believe we said it was the best; I think we said we’ve been recommending it for a long time. Most of the reputable online scanners are equally good. Housecall is just one of the oldest – it’s been around a long time.

  2. Davec

    Very interesting, Just thought I’d mention that Shaw uses FSecure as a free d/load for their customers.
    I’ve been using it for some time now and I’m very happy with it.
    Cheers … D

  3. Vicki

    I downloaded the trial version of ESAT NOD32 yesterday and it truly is awesome software. I love being able to toggle between Basic or Advanced modes. It seems to reliably catch threats that other antivirus software doesn’t. I will buy it in a couple of days if it continues to do as well as it has been. Thanks for your review!


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