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Which Free Online Antivirus Scanner is the Best? [Comparison Test and Results]

There are times when an online or supplementary scanner can be very useful when cleaning up an infected computer or just to get a second opinion on the security of your system. With this purpose in mind, the good folks over at the 7 Tutorials blog decided to do a test using the ten most popular online security scanners to see what worked the best and what did not.

The following scanners were used for the test: Bitdefender QuickScan, BullGuard Online Scanner, Comodo Cloud Scanner, ESET Free Online Scanner, F-Secure Online Scanner, Kaspersky Security Scan, McAfee Security Scan Plus, Norton Security Scan, Panda ActiveScan and Trend Micro HouseCall.

Are there any online or supplementary scanners that you use and depend on? Do you agree or disagree with the results? Let us know in the comments!

Test Comparison – What is the Best Free Online Antivirus Scanner? [7 Tutorials]

Akemi Iwaya (Asian Angel) is our very own Firefox Fangirl who enjoys working with multiple browsers and loves 'old school' role-playing games. Visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 05/30/12

Comments (21)

  1. Irish_IT

    Been using AVAST! for home antivirus. It is free and is one of the best Antivirus/AntiMalware systems I have seen.

  2. BassBastard

    I will second Avast. Been using it on all my home systems for 5 years or more without a single hit.

  3. UUUnicorn

    I tried Panda–oh, maybe three years ago on my MSI Wind U100-432US netbook, which, at the time was running Windows XP Home Edition 32-bit OS (Operating System). My computer had a 160GB internal hard drive.

    At that time, Panda took FOREVER to scan all the way through and finish.

    Since then, I’ve installed a 320GB internal hard drive, and I’m now running Linux Mint 11 Lxde “Katya” on it. MUCH lower maintenance needed now!

  4. Mr. X

    For those promoting AVAST, this is a review of online scanners, not Windows client scanners.

  5. D^Angelo

    AVG Free for Windows XP machine, Microsoft Security Essentials for vista/7

  6. D^Angelo

    oh im sorry, those aren’t online… my bad

  7. Fred

    I personally have never trusted the online scanners. Think they are pointless

  8. thegeekkid

    My favorite is Comodo.

  9. Raul

    You Avast/AVG guys keep me in business, I get paid very well every single week to clean PC’s with those anti-virus programs installed. The reason you never get a “single hit” is because those program(s) miss detection/prevention of many, many viruses/spyware/malware. If you guys do not have any virus it’s because you are smart/carefull users, the average user will get in trouble with them progs. I charge $100 a pop to clean a PC and when I see those programs I see easy money. I’m not ripping people off, those PC’s are infected and…. plus those two free anti-virus programs make most PC’s run slower, sometimes unusable. Depending on those programs to protect you from virus and such is like using a condom with holes in it, a false sense of security.

  10. Jeff Sadowski

    I’ve had pretty good luck with Microsoft Security Essentials for my home windows systems. I pretty much just use windows for gaming, but I browse with it from time to time. I haven’t noticed any viruses for over 3 years now. It is also on my wife’s computer and no noticeable viruses there either.

  11. Mary Lamb

    Raul – I just spent two days cleaning out the tentacles and trouble makers left behind after a troublesome AVG install was removed. I will never, ever use their applications nor recommend them. Interesting to hear AVG is also ineffectual at actually doing what it was supposed to. Ain’t that grand!

  12. LadyFitzgerald

    The comment that Avast free makes computers run slower is pure bull, especially when compared to Symantec products (such as Norton). When used with other anti-malware products, it does as good of a job as any of the paid AVs; the only downside is more user interaction is required (scans and some updates have be run manually). Also, any computer, no matter what AV is used, will get infected if the user goes to questionable sites (Avast free now has a feature to alert one if a site is questionable; WOT works even better–I have both), clicks on questionable links, etc. Email is probably the greatest source of infections, something most, if not all, AVs won’t protect against if the recipient is dumb enough to click on just anything.

    AVG free, on the other hand, has earned the reputation of being a resource hog (there is a rumor the next upgrade will oink).

  13. HolidayJim

    I tried the Kaspersky Scan recommended above and found that, when done, doesn’t remove or fix any found problem. It only refers you to their paid software web site. ESET Online Scan is by far better.

  14. HolidayJim

    Hey people, wake up. This is ONLY for Online Scanning, not regular Anti-Virus programs.

  15. Raul

    Jeff – Your right, Microsoft Security Essentials is much better than Avast/AVG, the majority of PC’s I find with it installed are not infected, Micro$soft actually did a pretty good job with that one

    Mary – You bring up a very valid and common problem with AVG, sometimes it even breaks your network/internet config which can be a big pain to fix, it’s “free” because it installs browser toolbars / “Speed up my PC” (a mean joke program) and other apps with a “standard install”. Advanced users like those here at howtogeek know how to bypass that during the install, but the average user has no idea, next comes a slower PC with very little protection and the toolbar is a spyware app itself. The people I feel really sorry for are the ones who pay for the upgrade/full version, it’s even more bloated with the same lame protection.

    The best/fastest way to remove AVG is to use the “remover app” they provide, the links are below, make sure you check “remove everything” or the bloatware/lame/spyware apps will remain.

    32 Bit AVG Remover
    http://download.avg.com/filedir/util/avgrem/avg_remover_stf_x86_2012_2125.exe

    64 Bit AVG Remover
    http://download.avg.com/filedir/util/avgrem/avg_remover_stf_x64_2012_2125.exe

  16. Raul

    LadyFitzgerald – Your comparing AVAST to a Norton product? The king of bloatware and PC aids? I would rather have a virus than a Norton product on my PC, nothing will slow a PC faster than Norton.
    It’s true AVAST will run faster than than AVG if configured correctly (beyond the average user) but… it still has serious problems with doing it’s job…. detect/prevent/remove actual threats, the only thing Avast has is good market penetration due to clever advertisement and the word “free”

    It’s funny to me when people defend “put your favorite program here” with vigorous valor, your “pure bull” comment is classic, are you really going to pump your chest with something as trivial as that? No offense but, Avast has created a solider out of you? Man, that is powerful advertisement…

    Look, I have absolutely nothing to gain here, I’m passing along “real world, hands on, in the trenches” extensive experience with those two programs, I earn an “extra” $300 to $500 a week, every week because of those two apps on the side (I fix three to five PC’s a week from a craigslist ad I run and word of mouth) so please keep using AVAST and preach that to everybody you know, I love the extra cash, but here at howtogeek I felt it was helpful to share my “day to day” “real world” experience with those apps, I have not even mentioned another anti-virus program here as a substitute because I am not promoting anything except for honest good advice, sorry if that offended you, I have been respectful in this entire thread, re-read everything I wrote instead of scanning for “words” and getting all defensive, I can hear the chest pumping from here LOL

  17. LadyFitzgerald

    @ Raul. My, my. Look who’s chest pumping! I do agree all Symantec products (including Norton) are horribly bloated. However, I can’t agree about Avast free not working because my experience (and the experiences of others) has been the opposite. It has worked just fine for me (and others) and that is what I based my decision to keep using it on, not their advertising. MSE also works well, based on actual user reports, but I don’t see any need to switch when Avast free has been working fine. Frankly, you are the first I have seen speak ill of Avast free. It makes me wonder what your true reasons for your comments are, especially with the sarcastic manner you made them.

  18. Sam

    Superantispyware + Malwarebytes free versions work best for me.

  19. Sam

    Spybot search and destroy 1.6 is another good one.

  20. Fred

    Everyone needs to read this! THIS IS ABOUT AN ONLINE SCANNER, NOT AN ANTI VIRUS CLIENT INSTALLED ON YOUR PC!

  21. Raul

    My motivation is simple, just helping some fellow geeks, your talking to a licensed security tech who makes at least $15,000 extra per/year on the side due to those programs not doing their job. Avast is especially useless with rootkits/keyloggers, just because Avast tells you there are no viruses does not mean the machine is not infected. I am basing my claim(s) on the amount of work and income those programs provide me, it’s simple economic math, people bring me their PC’s because they are slow…. I find Avast/AVG on the PC, the first thing I look for is viruses, almost 100% of the time the machine is infected and/or running slow with those poorly written programs, just because something is popular does not mean it is a good solution, it is popular because it is “free” and gives the illusion that it is protecting you from viruses, you yourself may not have any viruses but since you are reading at howtogeek it implies that you are an advanced user, the majority of PC users are average or below average when it comes to computers and those anti-virus programs will get them in trouble, If you want I can send you some viruses zipped up safe and you can see for yourself that both of those programs have no clue they are viruses even after you unzip and install them, I’ll send you the fix too. I keep viruses I clean for that purpose, to test protection software.

    Not True:
    “Also, any computer, no matter what AV is used, will get infected if the user goes to questionable sites”

    Not True:
    “Email is probably the greatest source of infections, something most, if not all, AVs won’t protect against if the recipient is dumb enough to click on just anything”

    Those two examples you provided make my case even stronger, the average user will do all those things you mentioned but with AVG/Avast you will eventually get infected.

    The programs I use protect me and ALL my users from those rouge situations, it’s fool proof if you use the right tools from the box. You should probably do a deep scan on your PC with something more proven in the the commercial/business market if you have done any of those things you listed above. It’s trivial to write a virus to get past those programs, it does not even have to be compiled, I have script files in plain text that fool those programs.

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