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.
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.
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.
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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.