Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Chances are you probably have some sort of antivirus software installed on your computer, but what happens if your McAfee or Norton Antivirus subscription expires? Very quickly, your software will become out of date and unable to protect your computer from new kinds of viruses.
But by using free online antivirus software, you no longer have to worry about downloading updates to new security threats. Online software is automatically updated with the latest virus definitions for up-to-date protection. The downside is that you don't have real-time protection against viruses which is offered by desktop antivirus software.
There are many kinds of online virus scanners. Some only detect infections, but don't remove them (acting more as upsell tools); others are more comprehensive and actually help you.
Once you start a scan (preferably overnight), take a break from using your computer because the process can take several hours.
The Best Online Antivirus Scanners
1. Trend Micro HouseCall
HouseCall is an online virus scanner that sweeps your computer for malware, viruses, spyware, and grayware and then removes any that are found. It also identifies vulnerabilities in the software you have installed. In a rarity, it supports both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.
2. Panda ActiveScan
ActiveScan also detects and disinfects viruses, Trojans, and worms, but the free version doesn't remove spyware or malware. Helpfully, it checks emails and compressed files (ZIP, RAR, etc.) along with regular files.
For a quick, one-minute checkup, try out Panda's NanoScan project. Although it doesn't remove infections, NanoScan is easily the fastest online virus scanner.
3. F-Secure Online Scanner
F-Secure will scan for computer infections and disinfect files on-demand. However, Internet Explorer only.
4. Kaspersky Online Virus Scanner
Kaspersky will tell you whether any viruses are lurking on your computer, but it won't remove them unless you install the trial software, making the online virus scan somewhat useless. Even so, once you know there's a problem, you can fix it. It's also Internet Explorer only.
5. BitDefender Online Scanner
This scanner will inspect your system's memory, hard drive boot sectors, and files for viruses and automatically remove them. Alas, Internet Explorer only as well.