Metascan, A Virus Total Alternative To Scan Files Online

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 30, 2011
Updated • Dec 16, 2014

Virus Total is a wonderful service for users who want to scan a file for malware before executing it. The core benefit of using the malware scanning service is that it scans the selected file or archive with dozens of antivirus engines. This puts more weight on the results that are produced.

The popularity of the service on the other hand means that you sometimes have to wait in queue before your file gets scanned by Virus Total. Another limitation is the 20 Megabyte file size limit which is a bit on the low side of things. (Update: The limit has been increased to 128 Megabyte recently)

Metascan Online is a new service that is an alternative to Virus Total. The online virus scanning service supports 19 different engines from companies such as Eset, Bitdefender, F-Secure, Clamwin, Symantec or McAfee. While that's less than half the engines of Virus Total, it should still be enough to judge a file's damaging potential.

The developers have increased the file size limit to 40 Megabytes so that even die hard Virus Total users can utilize the new search engine (for files larger than 20 Megabytes). (Update: the most recent version supports 42 different anti-malware engines and files of a size up to 140 Megabyte)

The antivirus scans work similar to the Virus Total scan. Just click the Browse button on the scan form to display a file browser window. Pick a file on the local system that you want scanned and click the Scan button afterwards.

antivirus scan results

The online scanner displays general file information at the top which include file size, type and md5 and sha1 hashes. Results are shown as graphics on the right after all scans have finished.

The individual engines and their results on the other hand are shown directly on the page. One interesting feature here is that the scan time of each individual engine is displayed here as well. Some scan times on the other hand do not feel right at this point in time, the 1ms of Quick Heal Scan Engine for instance or the 2189ms of Avira AntiVir Premium. Still, it is a nice feature in theory.

A search on the site can be used to look up md5 or sha1 checksums, which can be handy to find out more about a file without having it scanned first by the service.

There is however one aspect of the site that I'd like to criticize. If you visit the site with Chrome Dev or Firefox Aurora, you get a browser not supported page. That page does however list the browser version as supported.

browser not supported

The developers should take a look at their browser identification script and optimize it accordingly. (Update: this has been fixed).

Metascan Online is a great alternative to Virus Total or No Virus Thanks despite that issue. It is definitely a site to bookmark. It would be nice if the developers would add missing features, like the ability to scan an online file, to the site.

Update: Metascan Online can scan IP addresses or domains as well now to display information about them in the interface. This works similar to Virustotal's url scan option.

Metascan, A Virus Total Alternative To Scan Files Online
Article Name
Metascan, A Virus Total Alternative To Scan Files Online
Metascan Online is a free virus scanning service that scans files that you upload to it using multiple antivirus engines similar to Virustotal.

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  1. Roman ShaRP said on September 17, 2011 at 10:25 am

    No desktop support, so say goodbye to hashes. It’s bad, especially for the large files.

    Less AV engines, and my trusted Dr.Web and Kaspersky are not among the chosen.

    So… for me this is not a good alternative, but only the solution for 20-40 Mb files

  2. bastik said on August 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    I “learned” in the past that’s not recommended to compare the speed of antivirus products. Even if it takes long it’s not clear that it’s just looking closer. The results differ. They can’t be distinguished by speed.

    I wonder why there’s such a difference between the speeds. Sure the more signatures you need to check the longer it takes. But those should be almost equal for “high quality” products. At least I hope that those “take the file apart”.

  3. Rick said on August 30, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Gave it a try – 2 of 19 scanners did not run, but their report calls these “no runs” as clean – ummmm….

    Lack of file info compared to virus total and other online scanners.

    Looks pretty bare right now; hopefully this is just their first crack and it will improve.

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