5 Free Online Virus Scanners

Check for viruses online with these scanners

A free online virus scan is pretty much what it sounds like: an online-based, free scan for viruses and other malware. This kind of virus scan differs from your traditional virus scanning program because all the work is done on a server on the internet.

Every online virus scan site does this a little differently. Some let you upload a file for scanning, others check websites for links that contain malware, and still others install browser add-ons or other small programs that scan your entire computer but do the behind-the-scenes work online.

Free online virus scanners are good options for one-off virus scans if installing a full-fledged antivirus program isn't an option for some reason, or maybe just for an extra layer of precaution. Regardless of why you're using one, each of the free online virus scan services listed below are completely free!

You can also use an on-demand virus scanner for another layer of protection, or a bootable antivirus tool if your computer won't start because of the virus.

Check out No. 6 at the bottom of this page for a list of email addresses from several online virus scanners that you can send files to directly that you think might be infected. This is a great option for virus scanning on the go or from your smartphone!

01
of 05

VirusTotal

Screenshot of the VirusTotal homepage
VirusTotal.

What We Like

  • Easy to share scan results and search for past results.

  • Supports an Android app to keep your mobile devices safe.

What We Don't Like

  • Technically only for personal use; commercial use is not permitted.

  • The web interface only lets you scan one file at a time.

You can upload a specific file to VirusTotal to have it scanned by various antivirus engines or enter a website address to have VirusTotal scan an entire page for malicious links.

Archives like ZIP and RAR can be uploaded but the maximum acceptable size for any file type is 256 MB.

A browser extension is also available for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer users that allow URLs to be scanned from the right-click menu and files to be checked for viruses before downloading them.

02
of 05

MetaDefender Cloud

Screenshot of the MetaDefender Cloud online virus scanner homepage
MetaDefender Cloud.

What We Like

  • More comprehensive virus scanning than any other free alternative.

  • Doesn't require installation.

What We Don't Like

  • You must scan files one by one.

  • Limited support for browser integration.

MetaDefender Cloud (previously called Metascan Online) is a slick website that allows files up to 140 MB to be uploaded and scanned against 30+ different antivirus engines at once, including ones used by popular vendors like Microsoft, Kaspersky, McAfee, and AVG.

A few files you might be interested in scanning at MetaDefender Cloud could be 7Z, EXE, and ZIP, but you can scan others, too, like images, videos, and documents.

In addition to uploading a file to MetaDefender Cloud, it can also scan by IP address, hash value, and website URL.

Results are really easy to read; a bright green checkmark is placed next to each antivirus engine that identifies a file as safe, and a red mark with the virus name if it's found to be malicious.

There's also a Chrome extension you can install to scan downloads made through that browser.

03
of 05

Avira

Screenshot of the Avira online virus scanner site
Avira.

What We Like

  • Option to upgrade for more features and broader protection.

  • Very simple, user-friendly interface.

What We Don't Like

  • Not as reliable at detecting phishing malware.

  • Reports false positives with relative frequency.

Avira's online virus scanner uses the same antivirus engine as the popular Avira AntiVirus program to scan submitted files and URLs through an online form.

The form asks for your contact details so the URL of the results can be sent to you. A maximum of five files no larger than 50 MB each can be uploaded.

04
of 05

Jotti's Malware Scan

Screenshot of the Jotti free online virus scanner site
Jotti.

What We Like

  • Comprehensive virus scanning helps you sort out false positives from real threats.

  • Available in a dozen languages.

What We Don't Like

  • Ugly UI with lots of distracting ads.

  • Significantly slower than other options.

Over 20 antivirus engines are used to scan up to five files at a time (with a 100 MB limit for each) that you upload to Jotti's Malware Scan.

The date and scan detection status of each antivirus engine is shown in an easy to read list so you can clearly see which ones did or didn't find the file to be dangerous.

Jotti.org also includes a hash search if you wish not to upload a file but instead, enter the MD5 or SHA-1 cryptographic hash function of a file. This will only work if the file was scanned by Jotti.org at an earlier date, by you or someone else.

Jotti's Malware Scan is sometimes busy, making you wait in a line before your file can be processed. 

05
of 05

FortiGuard Online Virus Scanner

Screenshot of the FortiGuard online virus scanner site
FortiGuard.

What We Like

  • Extremely easy to use.

  • Website includes helpful cybersecurity news and resources.

What We Don't Like

  • File size limit greatly restricts its usefulness.

  • No browser integration.

Upload a file to FortiGuard Online Virus Scanner for a quick check against its scanner.

After you upload the file, enter your name and email address in case they need to send you a message about the file. After you submit the file for review, wait for the page to refresh and you'll see the results at the top.

Files uploaded to this online virus scanner can only be as large as 1 MB.

Send Files Over Email

Instead of a browser addon or website form, use one of the email addresses listed below to have suspected files scanned for you. Results of a virus scan are emailed back to the sender.

I've ordered these by how fast the results came in:

  • VirusTotal: scan@virustotal.com
    Files sent to VirusTotal can be as large as 32 MB. Enter "SCAN" in the subject line to get an automatic reply that's in plain text form, or "SCAN+XML" for XML format
  • MetaDefender Cloud: sanitize@metadefender.com
    Forward suspicious emails to MetaDefender Cloud for a reply about what its scanners found
  • Sophos: samples@sophos.com
    Use "Sample submitted for analysis" as the subject of the email. Password protect the files in the ZIP file format and enter the password in the body of the message. Results are scanned and then analyze by a real person who will send you the results
  • Avira: virus@avira.com
    To send files to Avira, compress them to any archive format and specify the password in the email. You'll get an automated response with the results in it, as well as a URL that stores all the scans they've ever made from your email address
  • eScansamples@escanav.com
    Pack the files in a ZIP or RAR file type secured with a password and include the password in the email. You'll get a simple reply that says if the data is clean or not
  • McAfeevirus_research@mcafee.com
    Compress into a ZIP file with "infected" as the password
  • Norman Safeground: helpdesk@norman.com
    Pack files into a ZIP archive with the password "infected"

See our Free Zip & Unzip Programs list for some free programs that will make ZIP or RAR files for emailing to these online virus scanners.