Pros and Cons of Free Online Virus Scan Services

Pros and Cons of Free Online Virus Scan Services

The increasing popularity of free online scanning services urged programmers to make web scanners as user-friendly as possible. In fact, each of these scanners is very easy to use because all it requires is just a few clicks of the mouse.

The marketing war supports proprietary inventions and proprietary algorithms: Online virus scanning is typically operated by the same engine as a standalone antivirus product. Each company tries to implement some peculiar characteristic to differentiate its product from the competition. So figures like detection rate and scan time, ability to remove found infections, option to scan for spyware and rootkits, smaller signature database size, a progress window of Easy-to-use scanning greatly increase the likelihood of becoming popular with end users.

However, we must always remember that online virus scanning differs greatly from any desktop version of the product. It certainly has its advantages, but there are also negative points. The advantages and disadvantages of online scanning services are listed below.

So what can we consider as strengths of almost all online antivirus?

1. They are all free.

2. Whenever you start such a scanner, you can be sure that it will use the latest virus threat database compiled by the vendor’s security labs.

3. Wide variety of virus scanners. While you often can’t install two or more different antivirus solutions on a Windows desktop, when it comes to online scanning, you can pick the one you like best, with no limits here. Therefore, you can switch between multiple scanners whenever you need to.

4. Sometimes it happens that the installed antivirus software is corrupted by malware, so you cannot use the standalone product. You cannot reinstall or repair it because smart virus makers foresee such actions on your part and also corrupt Windows installation routine. In such a case, online virus scanning is often not only the easiest, but the only escape left.

5. No additional files are placed in the Windows registry and in the system folders, so the system settings do not change.

6. Online scanning is a good way to test PC security and verify its protection.

But there are some serious drawbacks typical of online scanners, and you should be aware of them.

1. Of course, it all starts with a stable internet connection. Without it you cannot use the online services.

2. Proactive defense is a unique feature of standalone PC security products. Online virus scanning cannot serve as a security shield. It simply finds the threats and removes them, if possible. When the scan is complete, there is no guarantee that your PC will not become infected the next minute.

3. Sometimes a virus that lives inside the PC can prevent the online scanner from downloading its database files to the hard drive.

4. The types of malware detected by the online scan are usually much smaller than those found by the full-featured standalone antivirus product.

5. Most online scanners require Internet Explorer with ActiveX enabled.

Having said all this, I recommend using an online scanner from time to time, just to be safe. You can supplement the installed antivirus solution and test the security shield. It is free, after all.

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