When to use an online virus scan

Online virus scans are becoming more common today, with many companies offering these services for no charge. These scans can be completely useful, but one of the misconceptions is that an online virus scan is the same as a scan from a full program - this is not the case. Here we’ll provide some more information on what to look out for if you’re looking to scan your PC for viruses online, and when to use these services.

To start, the great thing about online virus scans is that they’re usually free - almost every major antivirus provider has a free online virus available for any user. Usually, when you decided to run the scan there will be an ActiveX control installed on your computer and the scan will happen fairly quickly. You will want to look out for added software that gets installed as some of the online scans suggest these - something you just have to deal with when things are offered for free - don’t be fooled.

Second, the scans can help prep a computer for the installation of an antivirus product.  Some computers are so infected with viruses that they can’t even install a virus removal program - the virus just won’t allow it.  Some companies offer a rescue file, while others have online scans you can perform to prep your PC for installation.  Once your computer is clean you’re good to go.

Common Misconceptions
So, with the ability to clean your PC, why not just use online virus scans every once in a while, as opposed to buying antivirus software? Good question, and the answer to that is, online virus scans only look for viruses in certain common areas of a computer; while they may dig deep, they don’t offer a complete system scan. Your computer could still be at risk, it’ll just be clean enough to install antivirus software.

While a lot of these sites suggest the scan is done online, many online virus scans require the user to download some kind of application onto their computer. Some of these applications can be up to 150MB in size and take up to half an hour to run the scan. Another thing to look out for is that not all scan will remove infections, some of them will identify the infection but not remove it. Then they'll try and sell you the removal tool.

There are some scans on the market that look like they’re providing an online virus scan, but in fact they’re just showing users how well they are protected against viruses. For example, the scan might reveal a user does not have an antivirus program, or firewall protection but not actually scan for viruses. After the scan reveals you don’t have antivirus installed, it will suggest you install their brand’s. Watch out for these, they can be frustrating and waste your time.

Finally, there are some scans that are only out there to scare you. Some will detect an overwhelming amount of “threats” where in fact they’re just false positives. These scans are meant to scare consumers into thinking their system is infested with viruses so they download their paid antivirus software in order to be protected.

While it may sound like there are a lot of negatives to using online virus sans, there really are some good positives as well -  many of them do find legitimate threats, and remove them. The online scans are by no means a replacement for full antivirus suites, the good ones do give users an idea of how clean their system is. Remember, while online virus scans are handy, nothing replaces a full antivirus suite; check out the top ten antivirus suites on the market now.

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