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How to Scan Files for Viruses

Aug 7, 2023

A file virus is a type of computer virus that specifically targets and infects files on a computer. When a file infected with a virus is executed or opened, the virus code is activated, allowing it to spread and cause harm.

File viruses can modify, corrupt, or delete files, and they can also replicate themselves and spread to other files or devices. Some file viruses may also have additional capabilities, such as stealing personal information or launching other malicious activities.Therefore, scanning files for viruses is an essential practice to ensure the security of your computer or network.

When should you scan files for virus

Whenever you download files from the internet, receive them via email, or transfer them from external devices like USB drives, it is crucial to scan the files for viruses before opening or running them. Never download any files from an untrusted source, neither. Doing so will help protect your computer from potential malware or viruses.

Steps to scan for virus before opening files

Step 1. Using the Windows Security app

Windows Defender is a built-in antivirus program comes with Windows. It provides real-time protection against viruses, malware, spyware, and other threats. It scans the files, examines network activity, and monitors web browsing to detect and remove any virus.

  • Click the Start icon on the Taskbar, and type Windows Security in the search box. Click on the matching item to open the Windows Defender app.
  • Then, click on Virus & Threat Protection from the left panel or on the Home page .
  • Click Scan options under Quick scan.
  • Select Custom Scan and click on Scan now.
  • Then you can browse and select the folders contains the files your want to scan on the hard disk, and wait until the scan finishes to view the results or take actions.

Step 2. Using online virus scanning service

If you want to get a second opinion on a file’s safety, or if you’re still suspicious even though Windows Defender didn’t detect any potential threat, VirusTotal can be useful. It is an online service that allows you to scan files for viruses using multiple antivirus engines simultaneously and provide a detailed report. Virustotal also provides additional features such as scanning URLs for potential malicious content and scanning running processes.

To use Virustotal:

  • Click on the Choose file button or drag and drop the file you want to scan onto the page of FILE.
  • Click on the Confirm upload button and wait for the upload and analysis process to complete. This may take a few moments, depending on the file size and your internet speed.
  • Once the scan is finished, VirusTotal will automatically display the results in another page, showing you how many antivirus engines detected the file as malicious.(if there’s any)

While these two helpful tools can quickly evaluate the safety of a file, it is important to note that they can’t replace having antivirus software installed on your computer for real-time protection.