For most of us, we usually rely on antivirus programs for security purpose of our system. Antivirus programs help us securing our computers by scanning files and programs whenever it comes in action or get found on our computer. Though some antivirus programs has better detection rate, none of antivirus programs is perfect. While some antivirus can detect virus or malware on a file, others may miss it. This is because all antivirus don’t have same malware database, neither they work in similar way.

So you can’t make sure if a file contains virus or not, by scanning with a single antivirus on your system. Also, you cannot install multiple antivirus on your computer. Installing or activating more than one antivirus on a computer might result in damage in system and performance.

So whenever you have a file that you want to make sure has no malware or virus, the best way to determine is to scan the file with multiple antivirus programs. Scanning with multiple antivirus gives you the surety of a file’s cleanness level against any virus. In other way, if you are looking for virus, trojan or malware samples, see where to download virus or malware for education and research purpose.

Scan files with multiple antivirus

Hopefully, there are many free online services that let you scan and check your submitted suspicious file for virus with multiple antivirus engine. All of them has same working logic, where you use the upload button to upload your suspected file to their server, then the file will be queued for scanning. Depending on server load, they will show you the list of results from different antivirus. Here, we’ll use VirusTotal as example. Proceed to see how you can utilize this service in all ways.

Benefits of using online multi antivirus scanning services:

  • Verify a file against virus.
  • Find virus that own antivirus solution may have missed.
  • Verify against any false positives.
  • You don’t have to install or run more than one antivirus on your system.
  • Free, faster and easier procedure.
  • Scan results are publicly shareable with the link to the result page.

Using VirusTotal to scan files with multiple antivirus:

VirusTotal, first launched in June 2004, is an online free multi antivirus scanner service.Then it was acquired by Google back in september 2012. Currently it uses 54 different antivirus products and scan engines to check for viruses.

1. Proceed to VirusTotal home page with your browser of choice. scanner

2. Choose the suspicious file that you want to scan using Choose File button. For me, I selected a real virus that was a USB worm. After choosing the file, click Scan it!

3. Soon after, after the upload, it will start to scan with multiple antivirus engines and depending on server load and speed, it will show you the results. If a file is already scanned previously, you will be asked to see the Last Analysis or you can choose Reanalysis.

Multi Antivirus scan result

Here, as of my scan results, you can see, 7 of 53 antivirus programs didn’t detect any virus or malware on my file while else others confirmed that my file contains virus. So from the detection results below, if you or me happened to use ClamAv or SUPERAntiSpyware or any of those who didn’t detect, we could easily infect our computer with that virus!

Antivirus programs that didn't detect virus

Now you understand the importance of scanning a file with multiple antivirus.

VirusTotal uploader for desktop (Windows and Mac)

VirusTotal desktop uploader

VirusTotal has official tool that you can use to upload any file from your Windows or Mac system right to VirusTotal for scanning. You can download this free tool from VirusTotal’s Windows uploader and Mac Uploader section. In case your USB removable drive is infected virus, you can use this tool in conjunction with my tool USB File Unhider that is made to help unhide hidden files and remove shortcuts on USB stick that is caused by virus, trojan or any kind of malware.

Scan URLs, web pages using VirusTotal

VirusTotal also has URL scanner with which you can scan a web page or any URL with multiple antivirus.

1. On VirusTotal home page, click on URL tab from top.

VIrusTotal URL Scanner

2. Input or Paste the URL you want to scan. Then click Scan It. It won’t take much time to show you scan results of the submitted URL. If you already have a web document or HTML file saved on locally, use file scan section.

URL scan results

VirusTotal browser extension (Firefox and Chrome)

VirusTotal has browser add-ons that lets you scan files before saving to your computer and scan URL’s directly from your browser. They named the tool VTzilla. Here’s VTzilla for Firefox and VTchromizer for Chrome.

VirusTotal for Android

VirusTotal for Android lets you scan your Android applications that are installed on your phone. Note that it doesn’t provide any real time protection.

VirusTotal API

If you want to integrate VirusTotal’s scanning service with your own service or any application, VirusTotal has both public and paid API. They have demonstration with simple python codes. For more details, visit their API documentation page. For your jump start with desktop app sample, there are unofficial open source projects like at GitHub written in VB .net and Virus Total API .NET Wrapper on SourceForgeBasic virus scanner on Github written C#.

Other online free services with multi antivirus engine that let’s you scan files include, etc. If you want comparison among these services, here, has detailed comparison on 7 online multi antivirus scanning services.

The downsides of these services are, they do not work the way like the antivirus program installed on your computer. Your system-installed antivirus program scans your files and system in realtime while these online services need you to submit files manually. Another downsides are they have upload limits and waiting time.


Jaber is a Programmer and Tech Enthusiast Geek from Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is the founder and Chief-Editor of TechGainer. While he is away from his keyboard, either he's fishing or messing with wildlife. In case, you can contact him at rijans[at]techgainer[dot]com.