The VirusTotal.com Web site offers a free but invaluable
security service. It will scan any Web download, e-mail attachment
or other file you send it with 40-odd different antivirus scanners
to let you know whether it’s safe for your computer. The VirusTotal
Uploader utility makes sending a file to the site a breeze by
adding a new right-click option for any file.
Even the best antivirus product can still miss some malicious
files, but the odds of a baddie sneaking by go way down when you
get 40 different scans, as you do at VirusTotal.com. You might also
see a few false positives, so getting just one or two
generic-looking warnings probably doesn’t mean you have anything to
worry about. And a clean scan doesn’t completely guarantee that a
file is safe–but it’s still a very good assurance.
To upload a file, you can visit VirusTotal.com, click the Browse
button to select a file from your hard drive, and then click the
Send file button. Or you can make it even easier with the also-free
VirusTotal Uploader utility. After installing it, you can simply
right-click any file under 20MB and choose “VirusTotal” from the
Send To menu. The scan results will display in your browser as per
The latest version 2 of the VirusTotal Uploader utility adds a
new program window with some useful extra features. For starters,
you’ll see a list of all the programs currently running on your PC.
To get a VirusTotal scan on any of them, select it and click the
“Upload process executable” button.
Another handy option–and one that’s exclusive to the
uploader–will have VirusTotal fetch and scan an online file
without your even having to download it first. Type in the URL, or
right-click it and choose “Copy link location” to cut and paste it,
and then click the “Get and upload” button. The file will skip
through your computer’s memory, but will never save to your hard
drive. You’ll get the usual list of results and can then decide
whether you want the download.
Since the vast majority of malware infections start with a Web
download or e-mail attachment, VirusTotal’s excellent free service
is a must-have for your security arsenal.