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4 Advantages of Free Online Virus Scanners

What's so great about them anyway?

- Peace of Mind:
Online virus scanners provide a second opinion to help assure your entire PC, or a single file or file folder, are clean and uninfected. Viruses can and do slip through the cracks. No antivirus program is perfect and having a backup scanner is very valuable.

- No Program Installation:
While you may need to download a small file to run an online scan, these scanners do not permanently alter any registry settings, system files, or take up large amounts of hard drive space.

- No Need to Uninstall You Antivirus Software:
It's common knowledge that many antivirus programs conflict with one another. It is widely accepted that having multiple antivirus programs installed on the same PC is a bad idea. Malware removal experts nearly always recommend completely removing all traces of any previously installed antivirus programs before installing new antivirus software. Online virus scanners allow you to get a second opinion backup scan of your computer from a different manufacturer without the need to uninstall your existing antivirus software. At worst you may need to temporarily deactivate your current antivirus software when running an online scan.

- A Great Way to Try Free Versions of Premium Antivirus Solutions:
Many free antivirus online scanners are actually identical, or very similar to the scanners used in the same company's paid antivirus programs. This makes free online scanners a fantastic way to get a taste for each company's virus detection abilities and effectiveness without installing temporary free trials.

4 Disadvantages of Free Online Virus Scanners

A few negative aspects of online scanners . . .

There really are no real major disadvantages to using a free online virus scanner, but I thought I'd list a few potentially negative aspects of doing so.

They Can be a Little Slow:
A full system scan on a PC with a large hard drive can take up to several hours depending on the size of the drives and the speed of the PC and internet connection. Online scanners are only slightly slower than running a full scan with an installed antivirus program so the difference between the two isn't significant.

Dependent on Internet Access:
This goes without saying, but an online virus scanner depends on a functioning internet connection on the target machine. If a virus has knocked out your web connection, you forgot to pay your bill, or you otherwise can't access the internet you obviously can't run an online virus scan.

Temporarily Lose Your Connection and Start Over:
Although it's probably a rare scenario, with most online scanners if you temporarily lose your internet connection or your PC crashes and reboots during a scan you get to start your scan all over again. This can be pretty frustrating if you are toward the end of a long scan. That being said things are only slightly better even with an installed antivirus program. While a functioning internet connection might not be needed to scan your machine, if it crashes and reboots you'll still need to start over or try other techniques.

Not a First Line of Defense:
Even though they are extremely useful, free online virus and malware scans are NOT a primary means of protecting your PC from infection. No matter how often you run a free online virus scan, your computer still needs active and up to date antivirus software installed. Remember free online virus scans are a backup plan and not your first line of defense!

The Best FREE Online Individual File Scanners

The Best FREE Online Individual File Scanners

Free Online File Scanners

Sometimes you just need to quickly scan individual files

Sometimes you only need to scan a single file, or a select few files for viruses. Maybe you've downloaded a suspicious file and need to scan it. Free online Individual file scanners are a great resource in these cases. They are also a great way to get a second opinion on a file that your antivirus software flags as a threat. False positives can and do occur and its a great idea to verify a file is considered a threat with multiple antivirus companies before you go deleting or quarantining it.

I've taken a moment to list what I consider to be the best free online individual file scanners. Check them out below and feel free to suggest any you feel should be on the list!

VirusTotal
VirusTotal.com allows you to upload a file and it automatically scans it using virus signatures and antivirus definitions from over 40 different antivirus and antimalware programs.

The sight also allows you to submit a website URL and it will scan the site for viruses and malicious content with nearly 20 different programs/companies. Very handy!
Jotti's Malware Scan
Jotti's Malware Scan allows you to upload a file and have it scanned by 20 popular antivirus scanners at once. A truly valuable resource to scan a file quickly. There is a 20MB size limit on files.
The Virus.Org File Scanner
As of the date of this update (6/17/2011) the Virus.Org file scanner is down for maintenance and updates. We'll keep an eye out for when it is back up. Of course, you could just click the link to check for yourself!
Dr. Web Online File Checker Scan
You can upload single files and archives to check suspicious files for infection using Dr. Web's powerful scanner.
Kaspersky Online File Scanner
The free online individual file scanner from Kaspersky scans files using Kaspersky's powerful and effective antivirus scanner. Unfortunately, there is a small 1MB file size so you won't be scanning large files here for free.
ThreatExpert Online File Scanner
ThreatExpert has a free online individual file scanner. The file size is limited to 5MB.
VirScan.org
VirScan.org has a free online file scanner that scans files up to 20MB and archives up to 20 files, for viruses and other malware. It currently uses over 30 popular antivirus scanners and virus signatures to check suspicious files.
VirusChief
VirusChief.com is an online file scanner that scans suspicious uploaded files with many of the most popular virus scanners.
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