Many sites offer to scan your computer for viruses online which can be a great alternative to checking a system with local antivirus solutions. The method has both advantages and disadvantages over local solutions. Using an online scanner usually means that the latest virus definitions are used, which is always a good sign. It may also means that you can run it right from your web browser, depending on how it is made available, and that it has not been compromised by malware.
This is of course only the case if the company operating the service is updating it regularly with the latest virus definitions and makes sure that its service has not been compromised.
Huge disadvantages exist nevertheless. Most if not all scanners do work solely in the Internet Explorer and require Active X controls to be activated. This could pose a security risk by itself and it is therefor advised to use those scanners as a last resort. Only a few scanners work with Firefox and none seem to work with Opera.
Online Antivirus Scanners
On to the list:
It is recommended to select the services based on the web browsers and operating systems you are making use of. Note that all only work if you are running Microsoft Windows.
The services that offers the most compatibility are F-Secure's and Symantec's solution. Note though that F-Secure's solution requires that Java is enabled on the system.
Update: Please note that some companies have modified their services from a web browser service to an app that needs to be downloaded to the local system. Instead of installing itself like any other app though, it simply runs in a portable mode using the cloud to retrieve information. This is for instance the case for TrendMicro's Online Scan or Kaspersky's solution.
This means that their tools can be used on more systems but also that the download needs to be executed locally and that there is a chance that it is intercepted by malware running on the system.
We also had to remove some services as they were no longer available.
An alternative to services that quickly scan the PC for threats are online virus scanners that you can use to scan individual files using multiple engines. For that you can use Virus Total or Jotti's Malware Scanner.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.