Free Virus Scan

Symantec provides a free virus scan (you need to click on Free Online Virus and Security Check).

I don't have a clue what "online" means - you must download 6 megabytes of software before it checks for viruses. There are also over 100 new registry values.

Background | Files Downloaded | False Positive | Comments


In 1998, I deleted my virus check software from my home system because it caused my new system to not boot. I have run unprotected ever since.

The last time I got hit with a virus was at work - just opening a web page infected my system. From that, I learned that the best way to protect yourself from these problems was to remove Microsoft email programs from your system (because they run scripts).

I recently saw that I could check the system for free, and presumably by not downloading any software (I figured that this was impossible, but worth trying). Since I download other software all the time, I decided to try this and see what happened.

Files downloaded to your system

I tried this junk because I saw an email that said that you could use this to "virus check" your system without loading any software. Well, when you start the program, it tells you that you have to run ActiveX programs, and I had to ok 3 separate requests to download software. (At least it told me before it started.)

The software was loaded in c:\WINDOWS\Downloaded Program Files - no, there was not an option to load it somewhere else. There were 5 *.dll files (programs), an *.vbx file (another program), numerous *.dat files (presumably virus definitions), and a few others, for a total of 35 files. Of course, in standard Microsoft form, only 2 "files" are shown using Windows Explorer. You must go to a command prompt (a DOS window) to see the rest.

Windows explorer only reports 600 KB, but dir reports close to 6 megabytes! (I no longer intentionally load any software on my c-drive because it is almost full.) This is totally unacceptable.

In addition, there were numerous registry modifications - 108 keys and 121 values.

How do I know this, I ran InCtrl before starting the scan. (I no longer provide links to this because it is no longer free.)

False Positive

Give me a break - the only "virus" found on my system was a known false positive that I've had since 1995. You'd think that after 8 years these guys would get a clue. When I originally downloaded these, the download page warned about false positives. I have used the software and no additional files are infected.

This is one of the reasons that I have such a high opinion of anti-virus software.


So, after 5 years, why don't I have more viruses? (As I said above, that's one of the reasons I tried this software - I figured it would be good to know.) Easy As long as you follow these rules, there is very little chance for the average user to get infected.

(There's nothing wrong with MS Word ... as long as you never open a file written on another system. Same for the other office programs - as long as you create content, there is no problem. You have to open a file from someone else to get infected.)

Author: Robert Clemenzi
URL: http:// / Parasites / free_virus_scan.html