Metascan Update, Scan Files For Viruses Online

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 28, 2012

When it comes to scanning files for malicious code online, Virustotal is the go to address for many. The free service scans files with 43 different antivirus engines, giving you a much better assessment of a file's malicious potential. Add to that a desktop tool to make the uploading more comfortable, an option to scan a web address for malicious contents, and hash support to speed up the displaying of results, and you got a near perfect service for this kind of things.

If there is something to criticize it is the popularity of the service, which sometimes means that you have to wait quite some time before your file gets processed by the service, and the file size limit of 32 Megabytes. If the file that you want to test is larger than that, you can't upload it to Virustotal.

Metascan Online is a Virustotal alternative that does not look as polished on first glance. The service supports 31 different antivirus engines at the time of writing, including popular engines from companies such as AVG, Kaspersky, Symantec, Trend Micro or BitDefender.

You currently need to select a file using the select a file button on the website. Once you have selected a file from your local system, you can click on the metascan your file button to upload it to the server and have it scanned with the supported antivirus engines.

The results page lists various information at the top, including the md5 and sha1 hashes, the file type, and the last scan of the file. You will also see a batch detailing the number of engines that detected a threat, and the list of engines that scanned the file, the time it took to scan, and the result.

You can use the search at the top of the page to find threats or information about hashes that you have generated locally.

Closing Words

Back when we reviewed Metascan Online for the first time we found it to be lacking in several regards. The browser identification script was blocking experimental versions of Firefox and Google Chrome automatically, and the support number of antivirus engines was 19.

The developers seem to have improved the browser detection script, or disabled it completely, and increased the number of supported engines to 32. Both changes improve the usability considerably. It is however still not possible to upload multiple files at once to the service, or point the service directly to a file's web address.

Metascan Online however supports files up to a size of 40 Megabytes, which is 8 Megabytes more than Virustotal does. It is therefor a good option for files that exceed the service's 32 Megabyte limit.


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  1. ilev said on April 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    They know what they are doing by excluding MSE from the list :-)

  2. Daniel said on April 28, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    That kind of tool always consumes your resource alot and are not able to be a long -time solution. However in some case it works quite well thanks to its updated database malware.

  3. Midnight said on April 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks for the info, Martin!
    Added to my Bookmarks!

  4. Roman ShaRP said on April 28, 2012 at 11:17 am

    I value VT ability to review multiple files and “Send to” integration, making it much more convenient for quick checking of downloaded file. Counting more AV engines used on VT, Metascan looks completely like only “second resort”.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 28, 2012 at 11:25 am

      I agree. It is great for files in the 32-40 Megabyte range that VT can’t scan, and if VirusTotal has a queue in the three or four digit range.

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