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Free Online Antivirus, Spyware, and Firewall Scanners Review
You might be doing everything right with your anti-virus and spyware malware protection. But no product is perfect and a "second opinion" is always valuable. We get a lot of questions on what to do about viruses, spyware, intrusions, etc. There are so many Anti-Spyware scams, fake products, and Trojans out there that we've put together this (non-affliate) list of free help sites. Starting off with a review of free online virus and spyware scanning tools. (updated 3/31/09)No Longer Supported
Free Online Anti-Virus / Anti-Spyware Tools (and other malware tools) – updated 5/7/2009

All of these sites and products listed below are well known, established companies, and have been tested and reviewed by NIST.org. They will not further junk up your computer. Don't trust malware scanners that you find through a search engine or popups you get when visiting some website. There are a lot of fake products out there and most will only make matters worse! (btw: everything listed below are non-affiliate links. Meaning we don't make a dime if you use them and we weren't paid to place them here. We don't control any Google ads appearing on the sidebar)

You will find that most of the online scanners require you to use Internet Explorer and have ActiveX enabled. The reason is simple, Firefox and Opera do not support ActiveX. ActiveX basically is a way to run applications within your web browser. It can also be very dangerous if you visit untrusted websites (all of these are safe). Which is one of the reasons we recommend using Firefox (see info below). No one spyware / virus checker will detect all malware so if you think you're infected run several of them. Those that say they scan for viruses most likely also detect (and possibly remove) worms and Trojans as well. Some detect and remove Spyware, while others do not. Again, when it doubt run several of them.

Free Online Web Based Malware Scanning Tools (some also remove malware):
Free Installable Always On Antivirus and Malware Prevention Programs
  • Free AVG – A truly free always on anti-virus / anti-spyware program with regular (free) updates.
  • Avast! antivirus Home Edition – Another free always on anti-virus / anti-spyware program. Lots of features including integrated virus cleaner.
  • PestPatrol (Free Spyware Scanner) – Also offers a free downloadable application to scan your hard drive for malware.

Free Off-Line Manual Scan Tools:
  • ClamWin Free Antivirus – An excellent free (and open source) antivirus tool. Can be used in addition with your always on antivirus program as a '2nd opinion'. Has automatic updates and can automatically remove infected file attachments in Outlook.
  • MalwareBytes - This tool is often recommended by the forums dedicated to helping you clena up a malware infection. Its easy to use and does a pretty good job of cleaning up most spyware and many virus infections. Not as powerful as a bootable CD option but easier to use. Definitely should be in your toolbox.

Manual Submission of Suspect Files – These websites will test individual files that you suspect of being infected. They use several up to date commercial antivirus programs:

Free Firewalls
  • ZoneAlarm Firewall - Free version. They also have a very good security suite that includes both a 2 way firewall and an antivirus program (up to 3 home PC's for $49.95)
  • Sunbelt Personal Firewall – Free Addition. This product works very well and will not slow down your computer. 2-way firewall will detect malware on your computer that tries to connect out to the internet.


If you see any good reputable sites we've missed in this review please send them to us. If you are in the market for a anti-virus program AV-Comparatives offers excellent independent testing and comparisons of Anti-Virus programs.
  • While you are scanning your computer you should visit Secunia's Software Inspector to inspect your computer and detect insecure versions of applications installed. It will also verify that Windows patches are applied and assist you with finding updates. Runs through your browser so there is nothing to install.

Need more help? Try the following website forums. Each is full of excellent advice, how-tos, and step-by-step removal instructions. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Once you get everything cleaned up install Firefox and surf with it rather than Internet Explorer. A lot of web based malware, virus, and spyware problems can be avoided that way. Especially if you add the NoScript extension below. (again, both are absolutely free with no ads or spyware)
  • First, download Firefox – It is MUCH safer than using Internet Explorer and you won't need any help learning how to use it. Its also faster.
  • Second, install the NoScript Firefox extension (directly from Mozilla). Its very easy to install, just click the link and then click ok. It blocks JavaScript, Java, and other plug-ins unless you approve them (e.g. you're visiting a trusted websiet) and remembers sites you've approved so it doesn't bother you again. We wouldn't be caught surfing without it.




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Posted by NIST.org on Monday 04 May 2009 - 21:16:00 | |printer friendly
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